GB Gets to Know: Ariska Putri Pertiwi, Miss Grand International 2016
Ariska Putri Pertiwi became the first woman from Indonesia to win a Grand Slam Pageant when she was crowned Miss Grand International 2016 on October 25th, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. As the fourth holder of this title, which is rapidly growing in prestige, she became an ambassador for the organization's Stop the War and Violence campaign. Earlier this week, Global Beauties officially presented her with her Miss Grand Slam 2016 trophy and, with less than 5 days left as Miss Grand International, we got the chance to sit down with her for an exclusive interview to learn more about this remarkable young woman.
GB: Ariska, you have been a very popular Miss Grand International. We are delighted to have a chance to catch up with you. Take us back to that moment last year in Las Vegas when you became Indonesia’s first Grand Slam winner. Did you expect your name to be called out as Miss Grand International 2016?
Ariska: (laughs) Of course not! I thought I might make it to the top 20 and I would have been happy with just that. It started when the host called my country as the winner of Best in National Costume. Then it was top 20 and the swimsuit round. Then I became one of the top 10. Of course I was a little bit nervous. There were so many people and it was my first international beauty pageant and I had to do my speech in English even though it's not my mother language. At that moment, I just told myself that I could do it and I did! The host started announcing the names of the top 5 and when they announced USA, Thailand, Puerto Rico and Philippines, I saw that there were two girls from Asia in the top 5 already, so I totally did not expect to hear 'INDONESIA'. I was speechless.
GB: Was it easy to handle the final question - it was a controversial one.
Ariska: No, it was a tough one, right? It was quite a sensitive topic, having to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It was so hard but I knew I had to do it, so I just gave it my best shot... and... well... (laughs)
GB: What went through your mind the moment you won? How did it feel?
Ariska: (gasps) I don't know. I can't tell you. You can look at my face in the crowning moment. I think I was in total shock and for 5 minutes I think I stayed like that. Eventually it started to sink in that it was the first time that my country had won a major international beauty pageant, a Grand Slam Pageant.
GB: How did your English become so good?
Ariska: (laughs) You think it's good? (laughs again) I guess it's OK. I had private English lessons before, but I never really got the chance to practice. My mom speaks to me in Bahasa (my mother language) and my dad speaks to me in Bahasa. So I didn't know who I could practice my English with. When I had to move to Bangkok after winning, I had lots of people to speak English to... I had Teresa, I had Mr. Nawat, I had the staff... so i can talk a little bit now.
GB: You had a busy reign. Tell us a bit about your year as Miss Grand International. Is there a particular highlight that you will remember for the rest of your life?
Ariska: I got the chance to travel around the world. I went to Laos first, then Indonesia, China... I think 11 countries... the Netherlands, Ukraine and Jordan. For me, the highlight was meeting the people. You know, when we visited the refugees in Jordan, it meant a lot that we could do small things for them, like give them donations and give them things they need in their daily lives. Miss Grand International's mission is "Stop the War" but we are also involved in many other projects. I visited many provinces of Thailand to do a lot of charity work with Miss Grand Thailand.
GB: The end of a reign usually goes hand in hand with some self-reflection. What have you learned this year?
Ariska: Wow, I think I learned a lot. I had to learn to live by myself and do everything by myself... in another country. As Miss Grand International, I also learned a lot. I had to learn how to speak in front of lots of people. I don't think I am a good speaker, like Lees (Miss Grand International 2014) and Claire (Miss Grand International 2015) but I always want to learn. I always want to be better. I always asked Lees for advice, so I could learn faster.
GB: You have spent a great deal of your time as Miss Grand International in Thailand. Do you consider it to be your second home now?
Ariska: Of course! I want to go back soon... SOON! If I have free time, I want to go! Maybe for Miss Grand Thailand next year. I can go back for a holiday now... I can stay with my other mom, Teresa (Chaivisut - Miss Grand International Vice President). My best memories in Thailand are all the moments I shared with my Miss Grand International family. I love Thai food... I love pad thai, I love papaya salad. And the people... like Indonesian people, they are also very friendly. I found many similarities between Indonesia and Thailand. It's really like a home to me now. It's only a two hour flight from where I am, so it will be easy for me to go back.
GB: As Miss Grand International, you have worked tirelessly for the Stop the War campaign. What impact has working for this cause had on your life?
Ariska: Well, we know that it's a hard mission, you know... countries, presidents, governments are not able to make wars stop. But I believe with my heart in promoting the message of peace. Sharing a message of hope and peace with young children can make a change. I can help them understand the importance of living in peace. We can do something, we can make a difference.
GB: If there were to be one piece of advice that you could share with the next Miss Grand International, what would it be?
Ariska: Prepare yourself and be ready for this challenge. The organization and Mr. Nawat have high expectations. It is important for Miss Grand International to be easy-going. She must be ready to work hard, of course. Sometimes you will hear that you are leaving for a new place in 24 hours.
GB: Now that you are famous in Indonesia, you can go into entertainment - do you think you will do that? Or will you continue with your studies? What's next for you?
Ariska: (Laughs) I don't think I am famous! Who knows if I will? I don't want to say I don't want to join the entertainment industry as a movie star or presenter, you know... But my dad told me that when I finish my reign, I must go straight back to university to finish my medical studies. And I agree with that. Education is very important, especially for me, as a woman. An educated woman can achieve great things. That's why I believe I have to continue my studies and after that... who knows? Maybe I will be in the entertainment industry but I also want to specialize in plastic surgery.
GB: While we have been here at the pageant, we have been talking about women, education and family. Do you think it's important for a woman to stop working when she has children to focus on raising them so that they can grow into happy adults? Or can a woman combine working with raising children?
Ariska: I think I want to work but I also want to raise my children. In this life, children need their mother to make them understand life... to make them feel safe.... to make them feel comfortable. In the world we live in now, children need more love. They need to learn family values. It is important so that they can grow up to be good people.
GB: We also want to congratulate you in person for being named Global Beauties’ Miss Grand Slam 2016. What was your reaction when you heard that you our queen of all queens?
Ariska: (exclaims) The first ever! I got this title of Miss Grand International and I was the first for my country Indonesia to get it. And I did it again for Indonesia and also for Miss Grand International, so I feel very happy and grateful for this opportunity. It's the best moment for me that I can also represent Miss Grand International. Thank you for choosing me.
GB: You have received incredible support from you country and around the world. Your fans have been fantastic. Do you have a message for them?
Ariska: I think I just want to say thank you. From the beginning, before I even had a national or international title, I already had a long journey to this moment. So I want to say thank you very much for everything. Thank you for every piece of advice, for every critique... my country, especially, has supported me so, so, so much. I am very grateful and I hope I have been a good title holder.
Global Beauties would like to thank Miss Grand International and Miss Grand Slam 2016, Ariska Putri Pertiwi for giving us the opportunity to get to know her better. We are proud to have you as our Miss Grand Slam and we wish you all the best for the future.
Special thanks also to the Miss Grand International Organization for giving us the opportunity to interview Ariska and Ms. Teresa Chaivisut for joining us during the interview.
Interview: Henrique Fontes
Written by: Andre Sleigh
Photos: Miss Grand International Organization