Always drawn to pageants and probably seeing herself in the beautiful women with the tiaras perched on their heads the recently crowned Miss Guyana Talented Teen has quickly accepted her role as a queen and vows to use her new role effectively.
“I accept the fact that I am queen and I’m proud of being Miss Guyana Talented Teen 2016,” were the words of the gorgeous Aliya Wong during an interview with The Scene.
Her recent walk on the national stage was not the first in this arena. In 2011, the new queen and her mother competed in Mother and Daughter Pageant and copped the second place position. Since then she has been drawn to pageantry and recalls sitting in front of the television with family members cheering on her favourite contestants for the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants. And so it came naturally when her sister encouraged her to enter the Miss Guyana Talented Teen pageant.
“She [her sister] actually said ‘you’re beautiful and talented and you have the ability to go far and even be queen’,” Aliya recalled.
Not one to hesitate and since she already had the seed planted in her heart, Aliya quickly sent in her application and was chosen. Immediately after, months of pageant training began. But even though she was being trained to compete in a pageant the new queen said that it never felt as if she was in a competition.
“Miss Guyana Talented Teen [organisation] is like a home. From the time I got there I found acceptance and hard work. They [Wasim Khan and his committee] treated us like their children,” Aliya said.
The experience, she insisted, has been an enriching one that has prepared her and the other contestants for every “walk in life”. The experience also, she added, was one she will never forget. “I made new friends; the girls and I became so close they could tell if something was bothering you the minute you stepped in. It was pure love and fun. Now we’re always hitting each other up on WhatsApp or Facebook. It helped us to be more confident in ourselves,” she reflected.
The contestants were also given the opportunity to talk about their platforms that dealt with social issues and what they were most passionate about. For the beauty it is not just friends she has gained but sisters. In fact she can’t ever recall the girls having problems with each other or bickering among themselves.
And through their platforms the contestants addressed social situations that resonated with them on the night of the pageant. The new queen addressed bullying during the talent segment with a dramatic poem written by Antonio Paul titled “Stop Bullying.” Here she implied that she would kick bullying to the curb using karate to better demonstrate.
She told The Scene that she wanted to aid in raising awareness about what bullying does and how to minimise this. Digging deeper, it was learnt that Aliya herself was a victim of bullying while she was a primary school pupil. Though it was only verbal she said it was enough to make her feel degraded. Consequently, bullying is the queen’s biggest pet-peeve.
And not only was she able put the spotlight on the issue on the night of the pageant but prior to pageant night the contestants were each given the opportunity to work in an area where their passion lies. “….I chose the Blessed Children Home Orphanage which is [situated] in Industry on the East Coast. In the past where I’ve worked with kids I worked mostly with the fifth graders helping them with their English. We did other stuff too. With the girls we did a lot of dressing up; hair and nails, talked and made headbands from T-shirts. I was trying to show them how to be creative with the little they have. With the boys, we played cricket,” Aliya said. Though she hasn’t been back since, she is expected to make a visit tomorrow and is anxious to meet with the girls and boys.
“Seeing kids without parents makes me appreciate the family I have. It saddens me that they have to grow up without parents although they consider themselves to be one big extended family. The smallest child is six and the eldest, seventeen,” she said of the children.
A challenge faced by the queen that many other teenagers can relate to is peer pressure. The values, she said, taught to her by her parents help her to deal with this and being a Christian she prays to stand up to this form of pressure. “I give a lot of credit to my parents. I don’t feed negativity with negativity; I feed it with positivity. If you come to me with fire, expect cold water,” the queen posited.
Prior to the competition Aliya attended the New Guyana School but she now attends West Demerara Secondary since she lives on the West side and it is more convenient. “Everybody there [at West Demerara Secondary] is just welcoming and fun. What was even more fun was being able to participate in the sports,” she said, which was welcoming since her previous school hadn’t included sports in its extra-curricular activities. At the recent sports she took part in the 200m race and the relays.
And this is not the end of pageantry for Aliya. However, right now she’s trying to stay focused academically and keeping up with her karate classes. She is a third degree black belt karateka/student at the Guyana Karate College. She also was and is the National, Regional, Pan- American, South American and World Champion (in Toronto, Canada) for all the levels where she competed. Currently she’s also training for the international leg of the pageant.
And for Aliya, her best quality is being strong and charitable and this comes as no surprise since she copped the Miss Congeniality Award at the recently concluded pageant.
One of her best and all-time favourite role models is Oprah Winfrey. “She used her circumstances to build her and didn’t let negativity hold her down; now being the richest black woman in the world,” Aliya gushed.
She hopes to someday follow in the footsteps of her parents and become an entrepreneur and maybe open her own 5-star hotel one day to boost tourism in Guyana.
The new queen’s hobbies range from: reading (romance and teen fiction), outdoor sports, playing video games, volunteering, travelling, socializing, hiking and taking adventures.
Narrowed down to a few after some mentally stiff reasoning, since she loves food, her favourite dishes are: seafood (prawns with broccoli, prawns curry and lobster), Chinese food and cheese cake.
Aliya also attended Genesis Early Childhood Education Centre (Nursery and Primary).
When asked what her favourite colour is she couldn’t just choose one and listed four with good reasons why. “My favourite colours are gold, green, blue and maroon. When I think of maroon, I think of a lot of elegance. When I think of green, I think of nature being that I am a nature-lover. When I think of blue, I think of the sky and that, that isn’t my limit and when I think of gold, I think of all my achievements being the World, South American, Pan-American, Caribbean and National Champion for almost ten years and now being Miss Guyana Talented Teen 2016. I also think of my future goals. That is why those are my favourite colours; they all signify something special,” the queen said.
“I’m pretty confident about bringing home the crown. When everybody is bringing their ‘A’ game, I’m bringing my ‘AAA’ game.”
“To Guyana, as I step forward to be an ambassador for you, I will not let you down. Expect me to be the very best that I can possible be. I will represent you to the best of my ability as a true Guyanese and will always be your Miss Guyana Talented Teen 2016,” she further said.
Aliya will be representing Guyana in St Kitts on December 30.