Young people take over Chinese American Council of Colorado’s annual fuddy-duddy fundraiser, talk about identity

The Chinese American Council of Colorado usually hosts an annual year-end banquet in December, at which the umbrella organization notes the accomplishments of its many subsidiary community groups and projects, from the Chinese Language School to the annual Double 10 Celebration (to mark the founding of the Republic of China, currently in Taiwan), and recruiting volunteers for the annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival to hosting free health screenings for the community. They even sponsor the Rocky Mountain Chinese Society of Science and Engineering.

The CACC’s year-end banquet usually is held at Palace Seafood restaurant, the place where 90% of Asian community banquets are held, and they’re usually the typical, staid events where everyone gets dressed up and claps politely at the awards and speeches.

Last year’s CACC banquet raised the issue of inspiring the next generation of leaders, and the organizations has taken that advice to heart.

This weekend, the CACC eschewed the usual banquet format for a more informal afternoon event at a ballroom at the Colorado Free University in the old Lowry Air Force Base complex, with food donated by several local Chinese restaurants. And instead of a stuffy affair run by the grownups, the event was organized and hosted by the Chinese Youth Foundation, highlighted by a pretty interesting panel of young Chinese Americans speaking out about their often conflicted identities.
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The challenge for Asian community organizations: Will the same old banquets grab the next generation of AAPI leaders?

Nai-Li Yee receives a Lifetime Service award from the Chinese American Council of Colorado, and flowers and hugs from some former students from her Colorado Chinese School, which she founded over 20 years ago.

Erin and I attend a lot of banquets. That’s what happens when you’re involved in the local Asian community. I don’t know what it’s like in places like LA or San Francisco, where there are a lot more Asian Americans and a lot more organizations, but there are something 30 Asian community groups in the Denver area, and we end up at banquets, fundraisers and events all year round for a handful of them. Many of the dinners are held at Palace restaurant, the spacious eatery owned by Johnny Hsu, who supports the community and welcomes their members.

That’s where we found ourselves last night, attending the 12th Anniversary Celebration dinner of the Chinese American Council of Colorado. It’s an umbrella organization of Chinese community groups that serves as a funnel between the community and the larger Asian American community, and offers services as varied as free income tax filing, health fairs, and volunteers at the annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival.

The food at Palace was great, as usual: an eight-course feast that included Xi Hu Beef Soup, Wok Fried Pepper Shrimp, Whole Fish with Salt Ginger Chef Sauce, Nan King Pork Loin and Golden Fried Chicken. Continue reading