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The story of a man who paid for a poor student’s education then ceased contact is similar to the concept of ‘pay it forward’, which was turned into a 2000 Hollywood movie of the same name. Photo: SCMP artwork

Mystery Good Samaritan pays student’s education fees for 7 years up till university then cuts all contact

  • The student met the benefactor while travelling seven years ago when the latter learned of his economic plight
  • The student sought media help tracking down the man known only as ‘Brother Ice’ to thank him personally for his kindness

A poor university student whose education was financed by a pilot for the last seven years has had all ties with his benefactor cut after the pilot sent a final message saying he did not need to repay him and requested no further contact.

Xie Yang, not his real name, is a fourth-year student at the Southwest Minzu University in Chengdu, Sichuan, southwestern China. He is seeking help from the media to find his benefactor whom he knew only as “Brother Ice”.

The Good Samaritan who lives in Zhejiang province, eastern China, ceased Weixin - the mainland version of WeChat - communication with Xie after sending him a final payment of 6,000 yuan (US$941) and a parting message last week, the Qianjiang Evening News reported.

“Having financially aided your education, I don’t need any returns from you. It’s only because I saw my childhood in you and it was too cruel for me to turn a blind eye,” Brother Ice wrote in the message.

A student from Renmin University of China holds a flag as he takes a selfie after his graduation ceremony at the school. Photo: Getty

“I am happy that you will graduate soon and start working. My task has finished. But I hope you remember that maybe in the future there won’t be someone offering you help. You have to fight on your own. When you graduate from university, forget that you have been helped by someone. Protect yourself and take care of yourself.”

Xie told Brother Ice that he and his family wanted to thank him in person, but the offer was refused. Later, Xie found he could not reach Brother Ice through Weixin any more.

“How can I forget his kindness?” Xie told the newspaper. “I want the public to know that there is a hero in Zhejiang. He is a hero in my heart.”

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Xie, a native of southern Guizhou province, said he first met with Brother Ice seven years ago near his hometown where Brother Ice was backpacking.

Brother Ice decided to fund Xie’s education after learning about the difficulties of his family. Xie’s father is a migrant worker in another province while his mother is a farmer. Xie also has a younger sister.

The newspaper managed to track down Brother Ice, whose real name is Lin Zhenbing. It turned out that what Lin did is a real-life version of the 2000 American movie Pay It Forward where characters repay kindness given to them to others in the future.

Lin, 32, was himself born into a poor family in Fujian, southeast China. He also received financial help from a good-hearted man for his schooling, said Lin.

After some years, the man severed contact with Lin after telling him that he hoped Lin can help others when he has the capacity to do so.


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China’s new family education law bars parents from putting heavy academic pressure on children

Inspired by this anonymous patron, Lin has so far funded eight students. He would usually cut ties with them as they were about to graduate from university.

“No one has contacted me since. He [Xie] is the first one,” Lin said.

Lin said he hoped Xie would help others in the future.