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Education Intersects Culture


Part of what makes Kalamazoo such a great place to live, work, and play are the various cultures that intersect within our community. The Kalamazoo Chinese Academy (KCA) is a local non-profit which has shared Chinese culture locally for nearly five decades!

In 1972, Grace Li founded the KCA to teach Chinese language and culture. Although her first class consisted of only eight children and met in her basement, the nonprofit has expanded to teach students from all cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds and now meets on Western Michigan University’s (WMU) campus.

“We have a lot of families who have adopted Chinese children in our community,” Elaine Lui, KCA’s principal, explained. “These parents want to provide that cultural background for their children. Families who simply have an interest in Chinese culture can participate as well.”

Existing outside of traditional schooling, KCA’s classes typically take place on nights and weekends.

“The KCA offers K-12 classes that include language, culture, dance, and Yo-Yo Club,” Vice Principal Mei Lin shared. “We also prepare high school students for AP Chinese exams.”

Yo-Yo Club

In addition to teaching, the KCA participates in a variety of other activities and services.

“During Chinese New Year, we usually decorate the Epic Center, host events, and serve Chinese food on the Kalamazoo Mall,” Lin said. “We want visitors to know they do not have to travel to Chicago for an authentic experience.”

Chinese New Year

“Another way the KCA stays involved is by working with community libraries,” Lui added. “When the Portage District Library received a family donation to set up a Chinese book section, we provided recommendations and donated books.”

Throughout the years, the KCA has joined forces with various community partners that have helped expand its audience and message. WMU is one such affiliate.

“We work very closely with WMU for adult classes and cultural events,” Lin revealed. “The university also provides us with Chinese-trained teachers and brings our high schoolers on trips to China.”


Kalamazoo certainly is lucky to have a group of educators that is so dedicated to sharing Chinese culture to future generations. We hope that the KCA continues to grow and are excited to see what is next!

The KCA is always interested in welcoming new students. To learn more about enrollment and registration information, and to register for the STARTALK summer program, visit For the latest news, be sure to like the KCA’s Facebook page.

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