Miss Deaf America 1998-2000
|Amy Wenchuan Wong, Miss Deaf America 1998-2000, is majoring in Fine Arts/Animation at CSUN. She was the subject of DEAF LIFE's October 1998 cover story.
As the first AsianAmerican Miss Deaf America, Amy is a groundbreaker and a stereotype-buster. She comes from a close, loving, supportive family that valued education. She attended schools in Indonesia, Canada, and the U.S. She's now a junior at CSUN, and a top student. She competed on the CSUN team in the Deaf College Bowl, and loves to read. She also enjoys ballet, opera, horseback riding, and (of course) art.
She told us: "I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. I moved to Québec, Canada, at the age of 11. At the age of 14, I moved to California. I've been a resident of Los Angeles since. My family is hearing, but my grandmother was deaf. I never met her; she died before I was born. When my parents found out about my deafness, they did not know what to do, since educational opportunities for the deaf in Indonesia are limited. But they saw me as a person capable of learning just like everyone else, so they enrolled me in a good mainstreamed school [the Jakarta International School]. It was extremely hard to get services, so I mainly relied on lip-reading in classes. It was difficult to find an ASL teacher in Indonesia, but my mother was lucky; she tracked down an ASL tutor and had us visiting her home for weekly lessons. I also learned, besides English and ASL, the beauty of the Indonesian language.
"I have a brother, Randy, who is hearing. He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and now lives in Los Angeles; he's a financial analyst.
"I was born deaf. The cause is unknown, but some audiologists suspect it's hereditary. I am severely-to-profoundly deaf, and I wear a hearing aid."
She proudly identifies herself as Deaf. Her favorite method of communication is sign language. "It makes me feel at ease--knowing I don't have to rely on lip-reading where so much guesswork is involved.
"CSUN has excellent support services for deaf students, which include interpreting, note-taking, and real-time captioning. I love to live close to my family--they mean the world to me and they live in Los Angeles."
One of Amy's greatest mentors and friends is Barbara Boyd, her English teacher and College Bowl coach at CSUN. She, too, is Deaf. Says Amy: "She has so much wisdom and a wonderful sense of humor. I love the way she perceives the world--we've discussed many literary works and she has this uncanny ability to view the world in a poetic way! She's touched a million hearts out there, and mine is just one of them."
Her career goal: "I hope to pursue a career in the Art field, whether it's related to movie productions or book illustrations."
Her MDA Pageant platform was Literacy. For her talent routine, she did a ballet performance with an ASL rendition of Maya Angelou's poem, "Phenomenal Woman."
Was she surprised to be chosen MDA? "Yes, I was stunned . . . I hadn't expected to win."
On being MDA: "I meet people every day who need to know more about our culture, our heritage, our language, and our pride. It's nice when people see Miss Deaf America and remember that I am part of a huge population of Deaf Americans. I want to make a difference in the lives of people I meet!"
One of her favorite quotes is from John Milton's epic poem, "Paradise Lost":
"The mind is its own place and in itself Can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n."
"I strongly believe that--we choose our existence. We can choose misery, joy, anger, remorse, and so forth. The choice is up to us. The mind paints and creates a world in which each of us live."
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