What’s Kevin DiPalma doing in China?

Here’s your answer, via the Zhanjiang Daily, which on May 25 published a story about the foreign teacher (and Villa St. Jean graduate, class of ’67) at No. 15 Middle School. Kevin is also the founding father of the original Villa reunion site, www.villastjean.com.

Here’s an English transation of the Zhanjiang Daily story, done by Ko Kung Mei (English name: Venice), a senior student at No 15 middle school.


An American, who came to Zhanjiang No. 15 Middle High School as an ordinary foreign teacher, has contributed 48,000 Yuan, that’s all the salary he made for these two years, to his Chinese students.
In Zhanjiang No. 15 High School, when you mention Kevin, everybody know and feels proud of him. To the teachers and students of this school, Kevin, who not only doesn’t understand Chinese, but also doesn’t understand Cantonese, is a very hard-working at work and quite friendly to his students. What’s more admirable, he contributed his whole salary he got here to the students who couldn’t afford the tuition.

To understand more about Kevin, the journalists went into No. 15 High School, to interview him and some of the teachers and students in this school.

 Kevin Di PalmaKevin, who comes from New Mexico, the USA, is already 58 years old now.  On September 1, 2005, he was sent to Zhanjiang No. 15 High School to be the Oral English teacher by Maryknoll at that time the contract for his staying there was one year.  After a year, he said the students’ Oral English had improved very fast and they needed more help, so he applied to Maryknoll that he wanted to teach here for one more year. During his teaching here for two years, his salary was only 2,000 a month.

“The pay isn’t much, and the teaching condition is very difficult. Especially if you don’t even understand a word of Cantonese, then why did you choose to come to Zhanjiang, and stay here for two years?” the journalists asked him.  To our surprise, he only said,” The students need me!  Moreover, I like Zhanjiang.”

Six years ago Kevin has been to China with his oldest daughter for the first time. Then he has been to Beijing, Xianghai, Daliang, etc. He told the journalists that the first time he was in China he lost his heart to it. “China is a great country and is developing very fast.”  Therefore, when he got the chance to teach in Zhanjiang, he flied to Zhanjiang — this strange city — after he got some news from his friends by the Internet.

Through these two years, the headmaster thought highly of him. He said, “We all appreciate him very much, during these two years. Kevin works very hard, he aims at improving the students Oral English as his first task. He has already overcome many problems here, such as communicating with the students. He tries to give students every lively class and never feels tired. He not only finishes his teaching task excellently, but also spends his break time to hold more Oral Classes for his students every week. A foreign teacher like him is very hard to find.”

To talk about his working attitude, the English teacher – Lin Zheque knows well. Miss Lin said, “As there are many classes in school, Kevin has to go to many classes. Each time I see him, he is always in a rush, his spirits makes me moved. The students feel very thankful for him, so they all try their best to cooperate with Kevin and study English as hard as possible.”

Since there are too many students in the Oral English class, he also invited two students majoring in English from Zhanjiang Normal College for help.

At work, he never feels tired. What’s more, he often uses his own money to buy movies, books, radios and other tools to hep his students to study English better. However, his life is simply and economy.
Kevin said his hobby was dancing and reading and lived in a quiet life.  He didn’t care much about his living condition. According to Miss. Lin, Kevin once worked in a Government Department and a University in the USA, his family isn’t very rich, but they live happily.

Although Kevin’s salary isn’t high, he is willing to help his students. When he knew that one of his students, Li Xiao Lo (Chocolate) would drop out because of pressure for the schooling, he said he would pay for her. Who could imagine that he keeps helping the poor students from then on? During these two years he contributed over 48,000 Yuan to 11 students in this school.

Looking at the list with the students’ names he helped Kevin said, “I feel sorry for them. Now I hope they can keep on studying!  The students here just like my own children. I only want to try my best to help them ”

It’s said that Li Xialo Lo has entered the University last year. When she heard that Kevin would come back in September again, she, who was still studying at school, said “I’ll go to visit Kevin as soon as I have time. he is the greatest benefactor if my life.”

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About villastjean

Villa St. Jean was a Marianist school in Fribourg, Switzerland, from 1903-1970. This blog site is intended as a forum for Villa alumni to share memories, pictures and connections.
This entry was posted in 170.00 Villa, 170.10 Alumni/Ancien, 170.30 Where are/Catch up. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What’s Kevin DiPalma doing in China?

  1. Judith says:

    Which came first, the problem or the soiloutn? Luckily it doesn’t matter.

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