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Nai Li Yee

Former Principal and Teacher at Colorado Chinese Language School and Former Chair of Chinese American Council of Colorado

Yee (right) with MaYing-jeou, President of Republic of China

Yee volunteers for canned food drive

Nai Li Yee with her husband John Yee, 2010 Asian American Hero - Lifetime Achievement Award

Yee recognized as former Chinese American Council of Colorado Chair


May 2014 | Cover Story

Although Nai Li W. Yee has committed nearly 40 years to the Colorado community, she doesn’t consider the time she’s served as giving back. “I believe one should try to live a life that helps to improve tolerance among people and help those who are less fortunate and in need of assistance,” says Yee, who helped found the Colorado Chinese Language School in 1974 and has taught at the school for 35 years. Political unrest drove Yee and her parents to move from Chongqing, Sichuan Province in China to Taiwan in the late 1940s. There, she received a formal education and teacher’s training, obtained a teaching certificate and worked as a teacher for three years. Shortly after, Yee traveled to the U.S. to settle in Denver and became acquainted with Chinese community. Yee served as principal of the Colorado Chinese Language School for eight years and has also worked for the State of Colorado for 29 years. In 2008, she received the Lifetime Community Service Award from the Chinese American Council of Colorado. “Since that time, many of those students who I taught have grown up to hold good jobs and positions in society,” Yee says. “In turn, many of them have sent their children to study Chinese at Colorado Chinese Language School.” Additionally, she has given her time to organizations as Asian Pacific Development Center of Colorado, Denver Chinese Culture Center of Colorado, Aurora Asian/Pacific Community Partnership, The Kindred Spirits of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Double Tenth Celebration Committee of Colorado, Chinese American Council of Colorado and Denver Public Schools Cultural Speakers Service. “Nai Li has devoted a lot of time to serving the Chinese and Asian communities,” says Christina Guo, a friend who nominated Yee for the 2014 Asian American Hero Award. “While she doesn’t have children of her own, she has taught at the Colorado Chinese Language School for 35 years. She has become a role model to many, many young people and is highly respected by all of the Chinese community.” Making a different and promoting understanding and good will among people of different cultures in the community are Yee’s greatest achievements. “I have endeavored to bring more understanding and good will, especially between people of East Asian and Western cultures,” she says. “In 2011, I received ‘A Teacher’s Award’ from the Overseas Community Affairs Council, Republic of China in Taiwan, for teaching for 35 years at Colorado Chinese Language School.” Yee’s advice to young people is to pursue knowledge with diligence. “Try to follow in the path of men of wisdom of the past and present,” she says. “Combine the Science of the West, with the Wisdom of the East.”

Many people have been inspired by Nai Li and have become volunteers too. She has recruited young people to get involved in the community and encouraged Asian American second generation youth to keep their culture.

Asian Avenue magazine - May 2014  

Cover: Asian American Heroes of Colorado