Diana Weng became the new Miss Sing Tao last December. She’s half Chinese, half Mexican, and her mixed heritage inspired her to try out for the pageant. A sophomore at San Francisco State University with double major in Spanish and dance, Weng also teaches part-time as a dance instructor at various after school programs in San Mateo.
Born and raised in Cuernavaca, the capital of the state of Morelos, Mexico, Weng took on her mother’s last name after her Taiwanese mother, who came to Mexico to teach Chinese, divorced her Mexican father.
Weng, her younger sister, and her mother experienced discrimination, she said. They were excluded from their community when she was growing up in Cuernavaca, but that relationship changed over time when her mother opened a Chinese restaurant and the family participated in charity work.
“My mother was the very first Chinese person in Cuernavaca. She was verbally bullied and was told to go back to her country. I was also verbally bullied, but that only made me stronger as a person,” Weng recalled. “I also became a protector of those who are in need of my help because I’ve been through times when I needed others’ help.”
“[Eventually] people started getting used to us, and the Chinese restaurant we opened became very well known,” she continued. “People waited for three hours to eat at our restaurant. Everyone knew who we were. The community also donated to the causes we started. Every Christmas we would donate food, toys, and perform dances at Children’s hospitals, orphanages, senior citizens homes and recreation centers. That is why I now have my dance students perform at many charities and community events almost every month.”
Growing up in an interracial family, both Chinese and Mexican cultures have significant influences on Weng. “In 1998, my mother and I were the first Chinese to bring Chinese New Year to our community in Mexico.”
Weng came to the United States eight years ago for better educational opportunities. As she was involved with her community in Mexico, Weng has strong desires to be part of Chinese community here. “Participating in Miss Sing Tao Pageant is a way to get involved with the Chinese community,” Weng said.
Weng will represent Sing Tao Daily at public events throughout 2013. Although the crown of Miss Sing Tao Pageant would only last for a year, Weng emphasized, “I would contribute myself to the Chinese community as much as I possibly can no matter whether I am Miss Sing Tao or not.” With Chinese New Year coming soon in February, Weng said, “I have three dance performances in one month. It is a tight schedule but I’m very excited.” Weng is well-versed in many dancing styles, ranging from jazz to modern to hip hop, not to mention traditional Chinese and Mexican dances.
One of Weng’s goals of being Miss Sing Tao comes from her professional dance skills and her part time job in the school. “As Miss Sing Tao, I expect myself to encourage people to live healthy, such as eating healthy and exercising regularly. I want to promote this idea to all people. I especially love to see my students having that sensibility in early age. After becoming Miss Sing Tao, I also would have more chances to spread this idea to the Chinese community. ”
Another one of her missions is to help charities. “My students and I brought dance performances to the America Cancer Society. Our performances could attract more people to participate with the organization,” Weng said.
The Miss Sing Tao Pageant is one of the biggest events for the Chinese community in San Francisco. Started in 2003, the pageant has been organized by the Sing Tao Daily newspaper based in San Francisco.
Brian Louis, who has volunteered as backstage coordinator of Miss Sing Tao Pageant for the past three years, said he observed that the number of interracial contestants have been on the increase.
There have been three contestants who were of mixed of Chinese and Caucasian ancestry who won titles in past few years, he noted, “including Jasmine Nachtigall, who won Dynamic Angel in 2005; Vicky Hibbert who won the first runner-up in 2009; and Michelle Kay who won the Miss Sing Tao in 2011. As for this year, we have another mixed contestant to win the title.”