Pageant winner reflects on international triumph
Relishing the opportunity to represent the United States, University of Washington student and winner of the Miss India Worldwide contest Shree Saini said the experience exceeded her expectations in many ways.
For starters, the contestants, which included women from more than a dozen countries, were “high-caliber girls,” Saini wrote in an email.
“They were not only very talented and well-spoken but community leaders,” she wrote.
Then, there’s the old USA. She wrote that representing her country made her say “Wow!”
Saini wrote she wanted to do her best in representing her country and spreading goodwill.
“I wanted to make every single person I meet, from contestants to those who served us food, feel so loved.”
During the week prior to the event, from Dec. 8-14, 10-12 hour rehearsals were the norm, and that was just part of the schedule. She toured New York City and visited the United Nations headquarters, as well as gave interviews with TV Asia, a New Jersey-based news network.
During the contest itself, on Dec. 14, she had to compete in a talent section and evening gown section and an ethnic wear section, after which, the judges picked the top 10 contestants. After that, Saini wrote, “we re-did our talent in front of a new set of judges, from which the top five were announced.”
The top five contestants competed in an on-stage question portion, and then the top three winners were announced. Saini took first, Sakshi Sinha of Australia took first runner-up, and the United Kingdom’s Anusha Sareen took second runner-up.
“My relationship with the other contestants was so fun-loving,” she wrote. “Some contestants like to stay in their competitive zone and remain quiet, but I like to be fully present, enjoy each moment and uplift as many people I can with each interaction.”
She added, “I look forward to staying in touch with many of the girls.”
As Miss India Worldwide, Saini won $8,000 to be used for school, and a year of paid trips to five countries and around the U.S.
She will also travel to India next year to pass on her crown to Miss India Worldwide 2019, in Mumbai.
“Indians are huge with pageantry, so I’m excited to see this excitement in India when all the countries come to compete,” she wrote.
Along with the perks come some responsibilities.
“I have to be the best version of myself moment to moment,” she wrote. “The best version of myself as a student, a friend and not just when I am in a crown or sash.”
All these trips and responsibilities will require a great deal of time management, particularly when dealing with her class schedule at UW. She is a journalism major who spent a lot of time in airports and airplanes studying for her classes.
“I believe I get the best study breaks, so it inspires me to study more and finish my assignments earlier,” she wrote.
She is not done with pageants, although she may be done competing in them, she added.
“Right now, I just began my reign as Miss India Worldwide, so I want to focus on being the best world titleholder,” she wrote. “In the future I do see a lifetime relationship with pageantry and I do see coming back as a mentor and judge.
Pageants, she wrote, give opportunities to thousands of girls and help them transform their lives by helping them gain many life skills like high self-esteem, confidence, stage presence, public speaking, fundraising, networking and community outreach.
“I started my non-profit organization at age 15 because I truly want to lead a life of service and this motivated me to be a part of pageantry,” she wrote. “I truly believe your legacy is defined by how you make others feel and the positive difference you make in your lifetime.”
By Sebastian Moraga, email@example.com