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An immersion 6th grader takes a family trip to China

August 9, 2015

Florence boy finds practical use for his classroom lessons at Chinese Immersion Charter School


Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
(Published in print: Thursday, May 21, 2015)

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NORTHAMPTON — When 12-year-old Hunter Palm visited China for two weeks in April with his mother and grandmother, the locals, hearing him speak Chinese, asked: “How long have you been living in China?”

“Hunter was our interpreter, thank goodness,” his grandmother, Jody O’Brien, said at her grandson’s home on Maple Ridge Road in Florence. “If we hadn’t had Hunter, we wouldn’t have been able to ride the bus or order food.”

For O’Brien, 79, a nurse from East Longmeadow, the trip was her sixth assignment with Global Volunteers, a service organization that sends volunteers abroad. On previous trips, she has volunteered as a nurse in a public health clinic in Mexico and worked with children with disabilities in an orphanage in Romania. She has also worked in schools in St. Lucia, the Cook Islands, and the Chinese city Kunming.

This time, her daughter Kelly Palm and grandson, a sixth-grader at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley, came with her. The three generations taught English to students at the Xi’an Biomedical Technical College, in Xi’an — a city of over 8 million in central China’s Shaanxi province.

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