Growing up in a family that works to put food on the table, I sometimes did not allow myself to understand things that my family considered to be extravagant. Beauty pageants were among those. I always had the impression that pageants were a way for people to show off beauty and their superficial appearance. However, recently, I was encouraged to participate in an academic-focused pageant, the Miss Vietnam of Northern California Intercollegiate Pageant. Through MVNCI, I have learned many valuable lessons about myself, my community, and my perspectives.
When I was first asked to participate in the 2016 MVNCI Pageant by my friend, I was hesitant given my lack of understanding and confidence in myself, and I honestly just expected spending hours doing makeup. Little did I know that I would be selected as the 2016 Miss Vietnam of Northern California Intercollegiate. Through participating in MVNCI, I was able to gain immense self-confidence, communication and leadership skills, and a strong support system consisting of the girls who were supposed to be my competitors. Over a span of three months, I made many unforgettable bonds with my pageant sisters, from providing constructive criticism during our weekly practices to sharing the last piece of spring roll. I eventually forgot about my old perception of pageants and focused on developing myself and connecting with my community.
My MVNCI Pageant experience certainly changed the way I have always perceived pageants, and in a way, it taught me many more things about my own perspectives. Ironically, I broke the status quo that I had set for myself. I am thankful for the endless opportunities to give back to my loving and supporting community, and for the opportunity to better my own personal development as well. To me, pageants are no longer something extravagant or superficial, but are a way for me to share my culture to others and build a strong connection with my community. More importantly, I learned to keep an open mind about life and be ready to challenge myself more frequently in the future.
As the new MVNCI Queen, I hope to inspire and encourage other young Asian American women to reconnect with their roots and preserve their cultural heritage.