Cindy Cha, a student at Sonoma State University, recently became the newest winner of the Miss Hmong California Pageant.
This competition, hosted over Thanksgiving weekend by Sacramento Hmong New Year, Inc., was the organization’s 12th annual pageant thus far, according to its website.
Cha was one of 10 contestants at this year’s pageant. She described the competition as a way to help women get out of their comfort zones, stand up for what they believe in and make a change.
According to Cha, the purpose of the Miss Hmong California Pageant is to empower women and help them be confident in who they are as individuals.
Cha said that her mentality prior to the competition was to not win the title. She doesn’t speak much Hmong and doesn’t have many traditional Hmong talents, but decided to join so she could voice her opinion.
Through her participation, Cha said she aimed to show both men and women that it’s okay to be a Hmong American, whether or not one speaks the language or has any specific talents.
Fear comes with any competition, and Cha’s experience was no exception. She said she was scared to voice her opinion because she did not know what her family and the Hmong community, who have many more traditional beliefs than her, would think.
Cha also said she thought that people would automatically disagree with her speech since she didn’t speak Hmong.
According to Cha, soon after she was announced as Miss Hmong California 2018, she was speechless because the judges accepted her for who she is.
“Since the judges chose me as this year’s Miss Hmong California 2018, it showed me that our Hmong community is slowly progressing, and that has been the biggest change I’ve seen in years,” Cha said.
Cha believes that her people are becoming more Americanized every day. She said that next to a good education, this is the only way to survive in the United States.
As soon as Cha began speaking English, she said she was reminded of her own worth and her fears slowlywent away.
Even though Cha is more fluent in English than Hmong, she still respects her culture and tries her best to keep up with the Hmong language.
Cha said she knows it’s an honor that she took home the title of Miss Hmong California 2018.
“Joining this pageant has been such a great experience, because not only did I get to meet such talented and beautiful young women, but I learned something very important, which is sisterhood,” Cha said.