I can’t recall even one mention of beauty pageants while I was in journalism school. But throughout the year, I emcee a variety of events (just about every week) including a beauty pageant. The Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce holds a popular Miss Friendship Ambassador Pageant to select a young lady to represent Chicago’s Chinese community. The winner gets to travel to Hong Kong to compete in an international pageant that includes ambassadors from Chinatowns all over the world.
The Chinatown Chamber does great work for the community so I am happy to help out. And I always enjoy working with David Wong who provides the Chinese translation for the ceremony. While my Cantonese is conversational, I cannot translate a lot of technical terms and titles – and there are a lot of people with long titles who want to be mentioned.
Just announcing the list of dignitaries, elected officials and sponsors seems to take over half an hour. There are always more who show up after we’ve received the final scripts. Asians are so respectful, everyone wants just about everyone to have “face”. Names and titles are scribbled into the margins of our scripts which is why I go through it carefully while I’m making the announcements. I always wonder if the average banquet goer pays attention or cares.
As the contestants paraded around in their evening wear, an organizer tells me “Uh, (elected official) says he didn’t hear his name mentioned. He wants us to mention it now.” What?!?! I am certain I mentioned his name. If I said it again, others may wonder why they didn’t get mentioned twice. I think even Miss Friendship Ambassador would agree.