The first group of Miss Laowai China Beauty Pageant contestants gathered for an orientation last Saturday at the Park Plaza West Hotel in Haidian district. The highlight was the photo shoot of the 13 contestants, showing off their beauty and energy, which elicited camera flashes from the hotel lobby to the gym, then to the restaurant and bar.
"I'm quite satisfied [with the program]. I've seen a lot of character in the girls and their enthusiasm," said Msafiri D. Sinkala, an organizer of the Miss Laowai China Beauty Pageant.
"Now they understand the theme behind Miss Laowai about helping out with the breast cancer awareness campaign and female-related issues."
Fariba Laliberte, a contestant who is half Persian and French Canadian, broke down in tears during the orientation after learning the theme of the pageant, as her mother died of breast cancer.
The contestants also had a good time during the photo shoot.
"I think it was fun! Everyone was really creative and there's a good energy here," said Bo-yee Poon, a contestant from Vermont, US. "I don't have any professional training in modeling…our host had music on his MP3 playing at the background and that got me going."
"I am hoping to share with everybody the life of a female laowai in China. Bring some light to their lives and see how we live differently here and what we gain from living in this beautiful country," she said.
According to the Miss Laowai China Organization, the pageant was developed to bring cultural exchange through the promotion of health, beauty and talent.
The contest is only open to foreign passport holders, and all female foreigners who are above 18 years old and will be in China during the period of August are eligible. The pageant is intended to lay the foundations for the formal recognition of foreign women's support particularly for the breast research and awareness campaign in China.
In addition to training in cosmetics and fashion, the contestants will also receive training in health issues.
"We're still arranging charity projects, for instance, helping out in an orphanage and other places in the community," said Sinkala. "We're also thinking about taking the contestants to Shanghai and Shenzhen for promotional activities."
"Everyone is abroad now and trying to feel good that they can bring their awareness to raise funds for breast cancer research. It is quite encouraging for us as organizers to see that we're doing something that is going to be a change, not only for the group, but also to bring awareness to the community around."
For further information on Miss Laowai China, go to www.misslaowaichina.org. The application deadline has been extended to April 2010.