The Story of ICCCI - How it all started…
In 1994, Mr. Kit Yong, an immigrant from Singapore, was searching for a Chinese School in Indianapolis for his children to learn Simplified Chinese using Hanyu Pinyin. When his search was unsuccessful, Mr. Yong decided to set up a Chinese School with the help of Ms. Suju Li, an immigrant from China. With a total of three families and four students, Mr. Yong approached Forest Glen Elementary School, an international magnet school in Lawrence Township for permission to use its facilities. Forest Glen Elementary School graciously agreed to loan its classrooms to conduct Chinese classes on Friday evenings. Advertising the opening of the Chinese School was done via fliers in the local libraries, Asian grocery stores and Chinese restaurants.
"Forest Glen Chinese Class", as it was originally named, started its first semester on January 20, 1995 with nine students in two classes. Mr. Yong assumed the role of principal while Ms. Li, an experienced teacher in China, became the curriculum director and teacher of one of the classes. The other class was conducted by another parent, Ms. Su Dong. The first batch of students came from families who were from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States. The first textbooks used were ordered from Singapore, the only country outside China that used simplified Chinese characters and Hanyu Pinyin at that time. Parent volunteers helped to make photocopies of the text books for both the students and the teachers for every lesson. On February 3, 1995, the school held its first Chinese New Year celebration in one of the classrooms. With the full support and active participation of all the eight families in the running of the school, Forest Glen Chinese Class successfully completed its first semester.
On October 23, 1995, ICCCI was incorporated as a non-profit organization with parent volunteers forming the board. Ms. Suju Li was appointed as the Director of Education. Mr. Kit Yong became the first president of ICCCI, followed by Dr. Tony Zhang, Dr. Francis Wai, Mr. John He, Mr. Yiting Yang and Dr. Steven He. While the initial motivation is to teach Chinese language to children of Chinese Immigrants, ICCCI's mission was soon expanded to include teaching Chinese to non Chinese-speaking families and promoting Chinese culture and heritage in Indianapolis. Because of its dual mission, Chinese New Year has been an important festival to ICCCI since its early days. The festival provides an opportunity for students to experience the Chinese culture and tradition, and allow Chinese families to celebrate this auspicious festival with their non-Chinese friends. ICCCI also actively contributed to Forest Glen Elementary School's diversity by participating in its annual international festival.
Today, ICCCI is still run by parent volunteers distinguished by their desire to contribute to the greater community, sharing one common objective - establishing ICCCI as a unique center to provide community services in Central Indiana and to promote Chinese culture through language arts and cultural activities. What started as a pioneering spirit has transformed a small dream into a huge reality due to one man's vision…
"The growing market in China in recent years has further underscored the significance of the importance of the Chinese language." -- Kit Yong, 1995, Founder, President and Principal (1995-1997).
(Wrote by Elaine Yeo)
1995 - 2001 Forest Glen Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana (Credit to Kit Yong)
2001 - 2002 McKenzie Career Center (Credit to Elaine Yeo)
2002 - 2005 Lawrance North High School (Credit to Elaine Yeo)
2005 - Now: Carmel High School, Carmel, Indiana (Credit to Solomom Li)