The question I’ve found myself answering most often here is, “where are you from?” and just saying, “the U.S.A.” does not suffice. Their eyes light up and they want to know where exactly, so I answer, “Michigan” as I proceed to lift up my hand and point to Bay County. I then realize this makes no sense to them, so I explain the hand thing. And of course, the conversation proceeds onto topics about Bay County and what I do, how I like living in the USA – and somehow it always ends up at “I’m actually Miss Bay County.” And once again their eyes light up, “what!?”
I’ve gotten the pleasure of sharing the Miss America Organization and the Miss Bay County Scholarship Program with dozens of people here in Switzerland, people from all over the world. And the response to what I tell them has been overwhelming. Believe me the audience has not always been easy. Most view points start in the same place, not big fans of “beauty pageants” some more drastically than others. But the final response in the end every time has been a new raw appreciation for a program that has the ability, in their own words, “to bring together beauty and brains.”
Everyone here has been so impressed by a system that focuses on a well-rounded woman. They are amazed by the fact that we as titleholders are involved in society and are knowledgeable on important issues. They have been blown away by the value of the off-stage categories of our competition. Overall, they are genuinely impressed.
It has been an awesome experience being able to share these stories over and over again. I quickly got tired of telling my story every time I met someone, but I have not gotten tired of telling people all about this program. Just this past weekend I was able to talk to two visitors from Puerto Rico, and tell them all about what the woman Miss Puerto Rico has to be and what she has had to accomplish to reach her title.
I didn’t think it was possible, but I’m falling even more in love with MAO since I’ve been here.