To honor Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in Indy, we're discussing the meaning of Asian heritage in the Circle City with key local leaders. We chatted with Quanbo Xiong, President of the Indianapolis Chinese Community Center, Inc., about his experiences in Indy as we celebrate this May.
What is the mission of ICCCI, and how does it uplift Asian heritage in Indianapolis?
Indianapolis Chinese Community Center, Inc. (ICCCI) is the largest Chinese American Organization in the greater Indianapolis area. Established in 1995, ICCCI is a not-for-profit community organization, solely supported and ran by volunteers. The mission of ICCCI is to provide continuous improvement for the social awareness, health, and well-being of the Chinese community, as well as other citizens of central Indiana who enjoy Chinese culture.
ICCCI provides high quality and inclusive educational, wellness, cultural, and social service programs that contribute to a vibrant, multi-cultural landscape across central Indiana.
We uplift Asian heritage in Indianapolis through two programs: ICCCI Chinese School and ICCCI Culture Activity Group. ICCCI Chinese School offers Chinese language and cultural art classes, currently enrolling over 200 students. These students engage in both language and extracurricular programs, such as drawing, martial arts, children’s choir, chess and instruments. These classes are open to the community at large and serve both adults and school age children.
The ICCCI Activity Group offers classes on the lion and dragon dances, folk dance, choir, Kung Fu, TaiJi, and similar activities. Every year, ICCCI brings many exciting programs to Indianapolis cultural festivals such as Indy 500 Parade, International Festival of Indiana, Indiana Asian Festival, Indy Chinese New Year Gala, Indianapolis Chinese Festival, Carmel International Art Festival, and July 4th Carmel Fest, as well as many college, K-12 school, institution’s culture events.
How did you begin your role at ICCCI?
I was born and raised in a village in central mainland China. While pursuing my dream for a better life through studying science, I moved to the city of Shanghai, then to Japan, and then finally to the United States. I enjoy a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In fact, my colleagues and friends are from various ethnic groups. We respect each other’s culture and tradition.
Twelve years ago, I was recruited into ICCCI dragon team for the Indy 500 parade, just a couple days after I relocated from Texas to Indiana. I was immediately impressed by this group of people who are so kind, generous, hardworking, and dedicated to the community. Their mission of promoting cultural diversity matches my interests very well. I participated in almost all of the ICCCI events, was elected to the ICCCI board the next year, and now I serve as the President.
Any big plans for ICCCI this year?
In the past year, there has been a steep surge in racist violence and hate crimes against people of Asian descent, especially towards the elderly and women. ICCCI organized the “Indiana Stop Asian Hate Rally” in March and participated in “Support Our Asian Community – Gather for Americans” hosted by the Carmel Mayor’s Office in April to raise public awareness.
While continuing make contributions in community culture events whenever possible, we plan to work together with government, media, police, and school districts to enhance Asian history education, appreciation of Asian American’s contribution to this nation, and stop racist hate against any ethnic groups by taking timely and effective precautions.
Any favorite festivals or events in Indy celebrating Chinese heritage?
ICCCI usually hosts an annual Indy Chinese New Year Celebration Gala in February, since it is the biggest traditional holiday in Chinese heritage. The Indy 500 Parade, the International Festival, Asian Festival at the Indiana State Museum, and the Indianapolis Chinese Festival are all major events where ICCCI proudly presents Chinese culture and traditional performing arts to the public.
Where would you take Asian visitors to experience Indy?
There are so many wonderful places you can go to experience the beautiful and vividly growing Indy; it just depends on your interests, how long you’ll stay, and what time of year you visit. I may recommend Children's Museum of Indianapolis – the largest children's museum in the world. I also enjoy downtown Indy, which has diverse art displays, the cultural trail, sports, festivals, unique restaurants and shops, museums, architecture, outdoor concerts, and more. Don’t forget the world-renowned Indy 500, happening in just a few weeks! Also, the Keystone By the Crossing mall is another place for an Asian visitor for shopping and relaxation.
How can an Indy visitor engage with Chinese heritage, or get involved in ICCCI?
Of course! Visitors can check out our website and email us for any questions on Chinese heritage related events, activities, or classes. For example, you can join our Lion-Dragon team as a volunteer to play the lion or dragon dance at an event, as I did in my first year in Indy!
Any favorite Chinese-owned restaurants or local businesses you frequent?
I live in the northside and work in the northwest side of Indy. The Chinese-owned restaurants I most frequently go dinning are Tianfu Bistro, Sichuan Chinese, Loucky Lou Seafood and Dim sum, followed by The Journey and Formosa seafood buffet.
What would be your ideal day in Indy? What would you see, what would you do?
All the seasons here in Indy are clearly separated with their unique characteristics, yet spring and fall are my favorite times of year. During the weekend, if I don’t have a community event or volunteering commitment, I like spending time with family and friends in parks, barbecue, or potluck at someone’s house (where I often get surprised by authentic Chinese food that I never knew before). Playing a little bit of basketball through pick-up games either in a gym or in the neighborhood is a MUST for me to keep me recharged and physically fit. Indy is such a beautiful and safe place that I feel lucky and proud to live and work in this area as a Hoosier!