Pageant Day Experience: Mandy – Miss Ao Dai, Miss Entreprenuer

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As soon as I came back home, I threw myself in bed and closed my eyes, sinking into a deep sleep after a restless day.

March 30, 2014 had then ended.

The next morning, I woke up feeling surreal as I saw the two sparking crowns sitting on my desk. I am Miss Entrepreneur and Miss Ao Dai. Really? And slowly, I recalled all the flashbacks from yesterday.

It was 5:00AM in the morning that my alarm went off, waking my from a deep sleep. My hand reached out to switch it off as my eyes refused to open. Suddenly, I realized it was March 30 – Pageant day, the day that all of us from staff to contestants had been anticipating. I tried to sleep in for another 10 minutes then got up and got ready for the day. Julia was so kind that she gave me a ride to my makeup artist’s place, while hers is all the way to Fremont. We left the house at 6AM, bringing with us the delicious sandwiches prepared for us by her mom.

All of our contestants showed up gorgeous and charming with their makeup and hair done at the theater. I secretly got excited to see everyone in their beautiful Ao Dai and evening gowns of different colors, considering I had only seen them in black outfits for the last two months of practices. We were later assigned in two dressing rooms, and I was lucky to have be in room B with 5 other sisters. As we unpacked, we all knew that we needed help from each other, as changing time was short while all the gowns were complicated. Six of us took turn to do hair for each other and steam the Ao Dai’s. It was heartwarming to see our friendship had grown to be sisterhood after such a short time.

The show started promptly at 2 o’clock. After an introduction slideshow, 11 contestants lined up with their faces covered by Non La to start the opening dance. Our choreography, Mary, was such a sweet and talented dancer. Not only was she patient enough to correct all our mistakes, she also manages to have each movement incorporated in the dance showcase our gracefulness in Ao Dai at various angles. Because I was an amateur dancer in my high school for three years, the dance portion was not a challenge for me.

However, everything else was.

Our two MC Trami and Jet made a perfect duo. Jet had a great sense of humor that when paired up the Trami’s professionalism and elegance, they made the show much more interesting and lively than it would have been without them. With their handling transitions of performances cleverly, the self-introduction, Ao Dai, and evening gown portions went by in a blink of an eye. It was hard to imagine how we changed our dresses in just a few minutes. I remember running on and off stage in heels, and all the pains that my feet previously felt were magically gone. By the time I had time to take my first gulp of water, it was already intermission.

After intermission, some talented contestants went on to showcase their musical talents, including dancing, singing, and playing piano. The following was the most nerve-wracking portion: Top 7. As I lined up with 10 other beautiful contestants on stage, the stage lighting hit me. My head began to spin, while my lips continued putting on a nice upward curve.

“Contestant number 9!”

It was my number. I did it. I did it! If anyone had held me at that time, he or she would have felt that my hands shivering and my legs shaking. I secretly thanked my three-year of dancing experience in high school, which allowed me to maintain a confident look on stage, regardless of how nervous I truly felt. Filled with joy and anxiety simultaneously, my mind decided to go blank. The next thing I knew was Mr. Jet read the question for me, and all I heard was the second half of the question. I tried to keep my voice from trembling, giving the best answer I possibly could, and returned they microphone to Mr. Jet immediately. I knew that if I had continued, my nervousness would have fully shown. At the same time, I knew that my answer was too short to be any convincing or appealing.

After we were excused from the stage, my fear started to grow bigger. I was almost certain that I would not make it to Top 5. Seeming to see tears threatening to roll down my face, Christina came to hold me close and said, “Don’t worry. You will be fine.” Although that small act did not completely calm me down, it managed to somewhat console my disappointment at that time. Christina with her caring personality and intelligence really deserved to become the Queen of MVNCI 2014.

There was nothing more frightening than not being called name after four spots out of top five were already taken. Nevertheless, I soon stopped worrying and started feeling thankful for the experience I had had, thinking that was the furthest I could go in the pageant. All of sudden, my name was called. I could not believe what was happening, until the cheering and applause woke me, urging me to step forward to join 4 other girls.

Top 5 question and answers went by fast. I no longer panicked as getting to Top 5 was a great achievement for me already. The last moment, also the most anticipated one, finally came: the crowning moment.

The first announced title Miss Entrepreneur surprisingly went to me. I still remember my worry when told about sponsorship project. As much as I loved to help other people, I always refrained from asking people for favor, as I did not want to create trouble for them. Vincent Ma, the inspiring speaker that trained us on how to raise funds for sponsorship, saw through my problem. He taught me some convincing ways to approach potential sponsors, and also encouraged me greatly by assuring me that true friends would help me no matter what. There I was, crowned for the title that appeared to be the most challenging and out of reach. I was more than happy to know my belief that hard work would always pay off was once again reinforced. And the moment my name was called again for Miss Ao Dai was also the moment I knew that I did not make in in Top 3. However, the joy and pride rising in me totally outweighed any potential disappointment. There was no words to describe how honored I felt to win double crowns. Looking at the audience, I saw my parents’ loving eyes and my friends’ widening smiles. I hope I had made them proud.

The sparkles from the two crowns on my desk disturbed my thoughts and brought me back to reality. Unconscious of the smile on my face, I felt like I was just awakened from a wonderful dream.

The pageant has been a phenomenal experience for me, and as soon as the previous journey was over, I am now in a new adventure as a MVNCI court member. I believe the coming year is going to be filled with new experience. I can’t wait to start assisting our Queen with her philanthropy project, which is to help Vietnamese orphans have a better life.

Last but not least, I would like to congratulate Christina on becoming the Queen of MVNCI 2014, Crystal on being the first contestant to win triple crowns, Miss Congeniality, Miss Talent and First Princess, in the history of MVNCI, Cathy on becoming the Second Princess, and Cindy on being Miss Social. You girls were all so beautiful and accomplished that you definitely deserved your titles. I am proud to have you all by my side through thick and thin before and during the pageant. And I truly wish that we would still be good sisters after the pageant is over, and even after our reign.


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