Interview with Sirena Wang – 2006 Miss Chinese New York Pageant

Contestant #13: Sirena Wang

Age: 20
Born: Jilin, China
Resides: Birmingham, Ala.
Occupation: Senior at Birmingham Southern College

Meniscus: What brought you from China to Alabama?

Sirena: I came here with my parents, and my dad was doing his doctorate degree in American literature. That’s the reason I came here in the first place. I came here, went to high school for three years.

I was always interested in pageants because I just want to do my best in everything. I can do piano, I can do voice. I just want to get close to the Chinese community a little bit because, living down in Alabama, there are not many Chinese down there, and I feel like I’ve been missing a lot in the past six years.

At my school, I’m the only “full” Chinese because the other two students, they grew up here and no one can speak Chinese; I’m the only person. So I thought by coming here, I can get some more culture which I have been missing the past six years. So that’s my main interest.

That’s kind of a unique thing that sets the Miss New York Chinese Pageant [apart] – it’s open to a pretty wide geographical region. [Note: The pageant is open to applicants between the ages of 17 and 25 who “have resided in the United States.”]

That’s right.

What are you studying?

I’m doing international business and music.

Would you like to stay down in Alabama or do you want to move?

It depends on where I’ll get in for graduate school. Right now I’m doing international business and I want to get into the finance area…it also depends on [which schools] offer me scholarships. So I don’t really mind staying in Alabama…or here, or the West Coast.

Have you entered a pageant before?

I entered one at my school. It’s called Miss Southern Diversity, and people who are in this little competition are either Indian, or Native American, or just black and Asian. I got first runner-up at that competition, which is nothing big compared to this because there were only 10 competitors. We had a talent part, a self-introduction, and questions onstage.

How familiar were you with Miss New York Chinese and Miss Chinese International?

Not at all. I e-mailed one person in Georgia – they have Miss [Atlanta] Chinatown. I felt that was the closest [location] for me to go. I contacted them last summer and they told me that they were doing that every other year, and they gave me this Web site [for Miss New York Chinese]. They were like, ‘Oh, check this out, this is one that [is held] every year.’ So I went to the Web site, and I checked it out and thought, ‘Ooh, this is interesting – I would love to enter that! You know, why not?’

What do you think of the competition so far now that most of the contestants have gone up on stage and introduced themselves?

Well, it’s good. At first I was little nervous – very nervous. But when I get on stage, it’s nothing. I’m used to performing; I’m a pianist. So I get on stage a lot, quite frequently. This is different because I’m not used to it, but still, the onstage performance, I’ve had before.