Ying Wa Friendships in Silicon Valley

Gloria Lee (’88)

It is often said that it becomes harder to develop deep meaningful friendships as one gets older.   While that is generally true in my experience, one clear exception is friends who share connections with Ying Wa.   With YW girls, even though we meet later in life, our friendships spark almost instantaneously.  Let me share a few.

YW @ Church

I met my first Silicon Valley YW friend a few months after relocating to the Valley.  Winnie Mak (’90) and I were both at a joint church event.  We looked at each other and said, “You look familiar. Are you from Hong Kong?”  “Which high school did you go to?”  The rest is history.  Winnie is one of my close friends in the Valley – we would feel comfortable calling each other at 2 a.m. if necessary (thankfully, no such occasion has arisen!)  We have regular gatherings, sometimes also with her husband Simon and son Daniel.  All three of them are extremely handy.  If you come to my house, you can see things they have helped fix in pretty much every corner!

With WInnie Mak's ('90) son Daniel at his Christmas performance

YW @ Yoga

My second Silicon Valley YW friend is Iris Ataee (’85).  We go to the same 5:30 a.m. yoga class every morning.  For years, we were mere acquaintances.  However, as soon as we discovered we are both YW girls, our friendship blossomed.  Iris and I have polar opposite views on most things, and our respectful discussions enrich each other’s understandings.  At times, I even seek out Iris’ opposing views to broaden my horizons.

Iris introduced me to Annick Ma (’85), Rose Yip (’85), and Elisa Yu (’86).  We are like a mini-support group, sharing one another’s laughs and burdens – celebrating milestone birthdays, cheering to career success / recognitions, sharing tips on kids’ college applications, comforting one another at the passing of family members, encouraging one another to exercise, etc.

Getting briefed before a coastal hike to see elephant seals (From left: Gloria Lee (’88), Annick Ma ('85), Rose Yip ('85), Elisa Yu ('86), Iris Ataee ('85)).
Enjoying Christmas Festivities with Annick Ma ('85) and Elisa Yu ('86)


My latest Silicon Valley YW friend is Penny Lee (’90).  Penny and I met during the welcome dinner for Mrs Ruth Lee’s (’72) visit in October 2015.  We happened to sit next to each other, and we hit it off quickly.  Conveniently, we also live very close to each other.  Penny is a kind and generous person.  Last year, upon learning that I was recovering from a major surgery, without me saying a word, she just started bringing me meals and checked on me regularly.  A friend in need is a friend indeed!  I’m forever grateful.

Treating Penny Lee ('90) to a Thai lunch as appreciation for her help during my recovery

I am very thankful to have Winnie, Iris, Annick, Rose, Elisa, and Penny in my life.  Without our YW connections, we may not even have met; or we may have met but stay mere acquaintances, like Iris and I were before we discovered we are YW girls.  Our YW bonds made us comfortable to open up ourselves, which allows our friendships to develop more deeply.  Even though we met later in life, in some way, our friendships started way back when we walked into 76 Robinson Road the very first time.