Cleft lip Atayal girl to sing at Universiade opening

2017/08/08 19:50:36
Angel Tseng (center), with her parents

Angel Tseng (center), with her parents

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Atayal singer Angel Tseng (曾宇辰), who was born with a cleft lip and palate and craniofacial deformity and who was called "devil" due to her appearance during her childhood, will sing the theme song of the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei during its Aug. 19 opening ceremony.

Tseng will sing "Embrace the World" along with her six-member band, "I-Want," which beat a total of 264 groups in a tough Universiade theme song competition last November.

Prior to that, the 26-year-old Tseng won the heart of the audience and judges of Taiwanese reality talent TV show Million Star (星光大道) with her "angel-like singing" in 2015.

With the story of her journey to conquer discrimination because of her unusual appearance, Tseng appeared in the company of her parents in Taipei Monday to promote the "Don't Tag Me!" exhibition organized by the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation-Taiwan.

In press interviews, she has talked about her congenital cleft lip and palate and craniofacial deformity, and about how she underwent her first craniofacial surgery at the age of 4 months.

As of this year, she has had more than 20 facial reconstruction operations, including one that had her left eye replaced with an artificial one because of dysplasia, Tseng said. "Luckily, my mom and dad have never seen me as peculiar."

Under her parent's careful protection, Tseng recalled that she had never noticed that she was "different" until she attended kindergarten and went grocery shopping with her mother at a local market.

A child on the road suddenly pointed at her, saying out loud: "That person looks like a devil!"

The word shocked her, Tseng said, and plunged her into deep sorrow. But her parents have always told her that she is as normal as other people, and that she should stand in front of people with confidence because she has done nothing wrong.

"Why flinch?" her parents used to say to her, she recalled.

Shunned by her classmates, mocked, and given bad nicknames was part of her daily life during her school years, Tseng said, but "my mother told me not to call people names in response, but instead to give them a big smile."

Because she loves to sing, she would often sing with her father in Karaoke places, she said. However, her father was opposed to her decision to make singing a career.

Also, due to her appearance, she could not even get the chance to sing because she was always ruled out during the preliminary interviews for singing contests.

Tseng's father told the press that he used to fear that she would suffering more discrimination and frustration than she did in childhood if she were to stand on the big stage.

But watching her becoming more and more brave and fearless each time she suffered a setback, he changed his mind, and became more and more supportive of his girl's dream, he said.

Knowing that his baby daughter is going to stand on the grand stage of the Taipei Universiade, Tseng's father said he never dreamed that there would be so many people supporting her.

"She is braver than me," he concluded.

The "Don't Tag Me!" exhibition features virtual reality that tells the story of exclusion by peers and the feelings of isolation experienced by people with craniofacial disorders. The protagonist is Tseng herself, who was tearful after the video was played at Monday's press conference.

The exhibition is being held at Warehouse No. 4 of the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei with free admission. It will run through Aug. 12.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Elizabeth Hsu)
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