Kalamazoo Chinese Academy (KCA) is a 501c(3) non-profit educational organization dedicated to providing Chinese language and cultural experiences to youth from all cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds in the greater Kalamazoo area.
The curriculum has been well-designed for students to develop both their oral and written communication skills in the Chinese language. In addition to language instruction, our school offers many opportunities to participate in Chinese cultural programs. This includes cultural classes in our school and participation in various festivals in our community.
To provide Chinese language and cultural experiences to K-12 students from all cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds in the greater Kalamazoo community.
To bridge the culture gap and enhance the community's understanding of Chinese culture. To prepare students for meaningful and successful participation in the global environment.
In addition to offering heritage and non-heritage Chinese language classes for various proficiency levels, KCA also offers cultural enrichment programs and activities that are engaging, entertaining, enlightening, and educational. Chinese dance classes are offered for multiple age groups with or without prior dance experience. Classes include Chinese folk, ballet, and creative movements, and are a beautiful fusion of various dance styles and techniques. The Chinese YoYo Club, also known as diabolo, provides an opportunity for youth to come together to play this ancient spinning game that provides endless levels of skill development, challenge, and entertainment. Students gather to learn challenging new tricks while perfecting dazzling routines, with more experienced students helping novice students learn how to spin, toss, and perform various other tricks.
KCA supports local businesses and nonprofits by collaborating with local organizations and participating in local events, such as the China Festival hosted by WMU, Chinese New Year Gala hosted by the Chinese Association of Greater Kalamazoo (CAGK), Art Hop hosted by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, the building of a Chinese language book section at Portage District Library, etc. At some of these events, KCA dance students and YoYo club members get the opportunity to perform and show off their talents, serve as cultural ambassadors, and celebrate their rising confidence and pride as Chinese Americans and/or as performers.
As the world grows more diverse each day, it becomes more and more important for our youth to develop an appreciation toward other languages and cultures and to be globally competent. KCA provides youth access to a unique opportunity to develop global competence that would otherwise not be available in the greater Kalamazoo community. Non-heritage youth have the opportunity to learn another language at a younger age, when language acquisition is often faster and easier. Additionally, KCA creates an environment where heritage youth can appreciate, embrace, and celebrate their Chinese heritage and develop their identity as Asian Americans. Together, students and families from both heritage and non-heritage backgrounds come together to build community and work together to achieve common goals. When our youth are globally aware and feel a sense of belonging and a connection to their community, they are more likely to participate in and contribute to their community, and the civic engagement of our new generation is critical to our democracy.
The idea of starting a Chinese language school to teach the young Chinese children came to my mind in the late spring of 1972 when my daughter, who was a second-grader then, began to speak to me in English after school. The concept became stronger when I saw more young Chinese children losing their Mandarin-speaking ability as they started elementary school. I eventually started the first class of the Kalamazoo Chinese School in 1972 on a Sunday afternoon in the basement of my house. There were eight students, ages 5 through 8. The goals for the students of the school were:
I am very happy to see that the Chinese school has continued to grow and serve families after 48 years. It is meaningful to help our children to become aware of their Chinese heritage background, and also to help non-Chinese families understand Chinese culture.