“I feel that I can make a difference” – Sal’s Story

Salvatore DePalma with some of his ILSC-Melbourne family


  1. Tell us about how you came to be involved with ILSC. How did your story begin?

My story began like most other young adults who come to Australia on a Work and Holiday visa; staring at a computer screen or going door-to-door applying to a variety of positions in hopes to get a job. I made a lot of coffees or phone-calls in odd jobs like barista work, selling ad space to companies, and raising money for fundraisers before I saw something that piqued my curiosity. There was a new school looking for staff that had just opened in the City Centre called ILSC-Melbourne. I was drawn to the experience they provided to students, so I put on my best suit and went for an interview.

ILSC Melbourne has since doubled in size, but when I first entered there was only half a floor occupied and a single staff member, Yuka, there to greet me. Jason, the director, asked me to run a few events as a barista and I happily accepted the offer. Little did I know that this would lead to a job where I could artistically explore all of my interests like making coffee and managing baristas, to public speaking, aiding in corporate and social responsibility, using digital and social media, and meeting people from around the world.

After I finished my first coffee demonstration I was really taken aback by the community at the school. There were people from all around the world talking and having fun, and I didn’t want to leave. Jason asked me how I found the demonstration, and I said: “I had a lot of fun!” After that, I became the Activities and Local Communications Coordinator.


  1. What is your most proud contribution to ILSC-Melbourne?

I’d say my biggest contribution was finding Adonai! He’s a student alumnus whose goal was to raise $3,500 for cancer research by riding his bicycle from Melbourne to Sydney. I didn’t push a pedal, but all of our schools collaborated and donated money to help Adonai achieve his goal (in just one week!) I’m very happy to have set that in motion for two reasons: one, we raised money for cancer research; and two, I was able to help Adonai achieve a dream.


  1. How would you describe the ILSC-Melbourne? The students, staff, atmosphere, and culture?

I love the people at ILSC. Melbourne has a very relaxed feel and the people are great, but the international group within ILSC is like a family to me. I was fortunate enough to work with both the administration team and a variety of teachers. When I first arrived I met two people and I immediately had a good impression of the school. Now there are over 60 people including staff and teachers, and everyone is great!

I’ll also miss the people that I spent the better part of two years with. It’s rare to work in a place where, when you wake up you look forward to going to work, but I was pleasantly surprised to have had that at ILSC Melbourne. The people I worked with were a big part of that – and so were the students! Being able to meet such a diverse group of people from around the world is cool. The students at ILSC are open-minded and a lot of fun. We have doctors, lawyers, and psychologists and so much more from around the globe, so it’s eye-opening to hear their perspective on the world. We even had an Olympic athlete study on campus (why didn’t I get an autograph?!)


4. What are some of your favorite memories of working with ILSC?

We did an internal project to promote our school by competing with all of the other ILSC locations. A few staff members (myself included) and students dressed up, acted, and recorded a video – I was an old man reflecting on all of my amazing memories of ILSC, which were some of the achievements the school made in its first year, like when ILSC Melbourne began and introducing the Biggest Morning Tea. Seeing the final project was very wholesome for me, especially, because of the sheer number of people who participated in our community and hopefully had a transformative experience.


  1. What will you miss most about Melbourne?

I’ll miss the tasty espresso cafes, the quaint hidden bars, and the diversity of the city. There’s such a variety of international food and a lot of friendly people making it. I love the museums here, and especially the street art that you can find hidden all around the city. The fashion is unique, and it’s great to see a unique blend of hipsters, “dread heads,” and businessmen. Not to mention Melbourne has been voted the most livable city in the world time and time again!


  1. ILSC’s mission is to provide “transformative experiences” for its staff and students. How do you think you’ve been changed by the experience?

After working at ILSC I feel that I personally can make a difference. No matter what job you have, it matters and every interaction can positively affect another person. At ILSC I was able to see the outcome of those interactions. A few students have expressed how happy they were to study at ILSC, and how they had a great experience.


  1. What are you moving on to do next?

Being able to teach at such an upbeat place like ILSC was a very great experience, and it has renewed my passion for teaching. I will be living in Korea with my partner in the near future and intend on teaching again. I’ll also be studying Korean, hopefully, I can find a school like ILSC.


To learn more about stories just like this, follow the ILSC journey here!



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