2014 Asian American Women’s Alliance Awards Banquet

On Friday, May 9, 2014, MVNCI Court Members were once again invited  to attend the Asian American Women’s Alliance (AAWA) Awards Banquet, which was hosted at the Crowne Plaza in Milpitas this year!  The event is annually held to honor outstanding Asian American students and professionals, and to celebrate their achievements by presenting them with scholarship and recognition awards.  Read about the 2013 Court Members’ experience last year here.  Since purple was the event’s theme color this year, we all planned to wear purple/lavender evening gowns to show our support.  Our first duty upon arriving was to greet guests and direct them to the registration tables.  We were more than thrilled to take pictures with guests and to explain about MVNCI to those who were curious!  

Photo c/o of Kim Nguyen; Court Members with AAWA President Dawn Chu and Staff Member Mindy Chu
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Photo c/o Kim Nguyen; Court Members with 2010 MVNCI 1st Princess Kim Nguyen
As the evening program began, we were treated to a variety of entertainment as we ate dinner, such as a modern ballroom dance performance.  Later on in the evening, Court Members were asked to help sell raffle tickets to guests for an opportunity to win special prizes later in the evening.  It was inspiring to see so many guests in attendance show their support for this organization; it speaks volumes to their great contributions to the community.  It was equally inspiring to hear about the accomplished award winners of the night!
Just like the previous year, a cultural fashion show was put on to showcase different Asian cultural outfits.  Countries represented that night included Vietnam, China, Burma, India, South Korea, and Japan.  Court Members were also asked to participate in this entertainment segment for the night.  We didn’t know what country we would be representing until the day of.  It  was decided that Christina, Mandy, and Cindy would represent Vietnam, while I would represent China.  Each of us was teamed up with a partner who also wore a corresponding cultural outfit to walk the stage together.  Coincidentally, all of the Court Members’ cultural outfits happened to share colors of red!
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Photo c/o Kim Nguyen
The most exciting part of the night happened when MVNCI was asked to be interviewed by Vietoday Television, who was there to cover the event.  Mandy was bestowed the honor to speak on behalf of MVNCI about the AAWA event and she rocked it (!!!) as we stood beside her for support.


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Photo c/o of Kim Nguyen
MVNCI Court had a great time at the 2014 AAWA Awards Banquet and were fortunate to have met so many wonderful people that night.  We are grateful for the opportunity to partake in such an honorable event!  AAWA’s mission to support Asian American women through professional and personal growth closely aligns with MVNCI’s own mission, and we are more than pleased to support this event every year.  To learn more about the AAWA organization and their scholarship opportunities, please visit them at http://www.aawalliance.com/.
Posted in MVNCI 2014 Royal Court, MVNCI Events

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


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.


Posted in Mandy Dang, MVNCI 2014 Royal Court Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Pageant Day Experience: Cindy – Miss Social


The night before pageant, I was still running around trying to get everything packed up and ready to go for Sunday, and found out that my steamer wasn’t working; none of my outfits were going to be ready! While trying to review the questions I might get on Pageant day and fixing the steamer at the same time, I didn’t get to sleep until 2am – and next morning I had to wake up at 8am to get my makeup and hair done! While the makeup artist was working on me, I actually fell asleep. My Sunday wasn’t getting off to a great start – I misunderstood the start time and arrived late at the Campbell Heritage Theater - not the way I wanted to start the day, but it made me realize I would have to dig deep inside me to give it my all on stage.

When we got into the theater, we were assigned to our dressing rooms, changed into our white ao dai, and did the first run through of the day. I was nervous – nothing was set up yet, and we had to work as a team to get the correct markers down for where we were to stand on stage for the various parts of the pageant. We did our intro dance and the self-introduction and my heart started pumping fast and I got nervous, spoke very fast and pretty much forgot everything – and this was with nobody in the audience! Rehearsal was over in a flash and we have a little bit time to relax and collect ourselves, eat and steam our gowns before the show. I kept practicing my introduction and questions because public speaking still makes me very nervous. But, I wanted to be a 2014 court member, and knowing that I will have to speak in public, I have to make this an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

After two months of practices, the show goes by really fast; it felt like I blinked and we were at the end of the show. During the show, it felt like a race against time to get changed from one outfit to another. At one point, it felt like everybody was piled into the dressing rooms trying to help my other pageant sisters and I change, but once we step foot onto the stage, our expressions don’t show the craziness but only smiles.

Time to announce top 7, I was the 2nd to last to be called. I was nervous and I was told later that my friends and family were even more nervous then I. When I was called, my body just felt a little lighter but my nervousness never went away because I’m facing what I feel was the most challenging aspect of pageant;  the on stage interview. I was so nervous and I didn’t deliver the answer to my question as I had wanted to or even rehearsed. Top 5 got called and I didn’t make it, but I smiled and exited the stage. While I was packing up my things and changing back into my color ao dai, my friends and family tried to cheer me up by texting me, and saying how proud they were of all my hard work – that support definitely helped ease my sadness for my bobble onstage with my response.

The final time for us to come back on stage again, I didn’t expect to win anything, I was ready to walk off stage without a crown. I was shock when I got called to win the title of Miss Social! I was surprised and delighted while walking to center stage to receive my sash, crown and flowers. I felt like I didn’t let my family, friends and sponsor down after all! I was very happy with that accomplishment.

I want  to say  ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has been there for me and always believed in me. Being in this pageant has built up my confidence more than I can imagine – I can’t wait to share my court experiences with you, and give back to my community.

Posted in Cindy Nguyen, MVNCI 2014 Royal Court Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Pageant Day Experience: Quy Hoa – Miss Photogenic


On March 30th, 2014, at 12:00 AM, I woke up from a two hours nap from a long and tiring practice from the day before. I tried to fall back asleep, but the thought of dancing, walking, and talking on stage kept me turning and twisting. I then decided to get up and prepare myself for the big day ahead of me. I wrote down a list of things to do such as ironing my dresses and continue to keep myself busy to avoid falling asleep. Finally, the clock stroke 5:00 AM, and I silently left my house when it was still dark and rainy outside.

On my way to my makeup’s artist house, Kevin Truong, I made a quick stop at a friend’s house to drop off his ticket.Honestly, I was terrified of driving on the street while most people were still asleep. Before I arrived at Kevin’s house, I stopped at McDonald’s and Yum Yum donut shop to pick up some breakfasts. At exactly 6:02 AM, I arrived at Kevin’s house and was ready to get my hair and makeup done.

At 10 AM, we all presented at Heritage Theater in Campbell to have one last run through before the actual show. To be honest, I was hungry, tired, nervous, but very excited. Although I was as stressed out as other contestants, I remained very calm and quiet to keep myself focus. Once the executive director, Jodie, announced to stand by, my heart dropped and it was difficult for me to stand. I constantly sat down and hugged my peers to prevent myself from collapsing.

The best part that I was looking forward to was presenting my beautiful ao dai designed by Kevin Truong. It was an honor for me to be wearing an ao dai from Kevin Truong because I have been admiring him and his work since 2012. It was a dream come true to not only have met him, but had the chance to work closely with him. I felt so proud and beautiful when I walked out to show the judges and audience what I was wearing.

The scariest part of the show that other contestants could relate to was answering the mystery question. Although I got the question that I had the most difficult time with, but I was very proud of my answer. It was a relief when I saw a few judges nodding their heads as I was answering my question, which gave me more confident about myself.

During crowning moment, I was so surprised when my number was called for Miss. Photogenic. As I stepped forward to receive my crown and sash,  I asked myself, “How was that possible?” I was extremely grateful and couldn’t stop smiling. Right when I walked out into the lobby, the crowd walked up to congratulate me. Compliments that I will forever remember are “I was rooting for you”, “You were the sweetest girl on stage”, and “You were my favorite because you were so honest and acted yourself.” I felt like the biggest winner of the night from receiving all the loves and compliments from people who I met for the very first time. With or without a crown, I am the luckiest girl. I have never felt so much love and support from friends, families, and strangers.

Now, I look forward to put hand together with my court to work on projects that we can be really proud of. I hope to make an impact in the community by reaching out to others with what I do and who I am. I am so thankful for this one in a life time opportunity.

Posted in MVNCI 2014 Royal Court, Quy Hoa Le Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Pageant Day Experience: Cathy – 2nd Princess


According to my past experiences, the final days leading up to pageant felt a lot like waiting in line for a roller coaster ride, or waiting to be called into the surgery room get your wisdom teeth extracted using only local anesthesia.  There have been times in instances like these in which I have been tempted to back out (and believe me, I have escaped from the oral surgeon’s waiting room before; long story, but it explains why I still have 2 wisdom teeth left!).  This time, I knew I was in line for one of those moments in life in which I knew I would absolutely dread the wait leading up to it, constantly have to answer to myself as to why I’m doing it, have mixed emotions while going through it, and be so relieved when it’s finally over. Yet, I also realized that when I completed it, I would be so glad to have done it.  My pageant experience was no different.

On the day of pageant, I started my day too-too-early-for-a-Sunday by heading over to my super nice make-up artist’s studio.  Luckily we had planned to meet up 15 minutes earlier than scheduled, because I arrived to the theater with only several minutes to spare!  Practice took place shortly afterwards and I immediately felt comfortable with the cute size of the stage and the not-so-intimidating amount of theater seating.  I practiced scanning the audience for the seats in which I knew my family and friends would be sitting in, so that I could make sure to share enough eye contact love between them and the judges during the show.  After the dry practice run was over, we returned to our dressing rooms to wait for the cue to showtime.  I took my mind off the wait by practicing my walks and timing the minutes as to when I should begin doing touch-ups to my hair and makeup as taught by my awesome makeup artist.  Right before the show began, the pageant Executive Director and one of the advisors shared final words with the contestants before we were quickly ushered out to the wings of the stage.

Hearing the restlessness of the audience through the stage curtains, and catching glimpses of guests who sat in the far right seats from behind stage was the moment in which I had a reality check: Oh darn, I was actually going to give everyone sitting out there and possibly all future generations 3 hours worth of material to judge me, and form their impressions of me, on… willingly!  Not knowing whether it would turn out to be good, bad, in-between, or one of the extremes was something I tried not to think or care too much about.  The entire show happened exactly how it was previously described to us: too fast.  In between being on stage and rushing to the dressing rooms to get changed, we were all constantly kept moving.  I honestly did not know which ao dai or evening gown I would choose to wear until it was time to get dressed since I had brought 2 of everything, with the reasons being slightly out of preparedness, but mostly out of indecisiveness!

For me, the most nerve-wracking part of the whole pageant was my decision to participate in the talent portion.  I knew that after I passed this portion, everything else would come easy for me in comparison.  I didn’t give a flawless performance, but I learned that I should never doubt my finger memory.  Yes, maybe I was embarrassed, but I didn’t exactly die from it either!  Considering that life inevitably guarantees us this kind of moment at some point in our lifetime… I have to truly appreciate what happened because before this day, I honestly can’t pinpoint any other experience in which I would have considered it to be.  Since I had already dealt with all of my nerves for the talent portion, I no longer knew how to be nervous during the Top 7, Top 5, or crowning moments.  These moments simply entered my mindset as “it is what it is”.

I am so proud of all of the contestants for presenting ourselves on stage in front of our friends, families, and supporters, and those of the other contestants, past court members, and pageant staff.  It’s not so easy to do.  I was aware that regardless of what happened that day, we would have won in our own ways in terms of what we gained from pageant.  The experience has definitely changed us all whether it be noticeable, or not.  For me, I learned that it’s not so bad to share myself with others. From the very beginning, I was intent on not letting too many people know that I decided to participate in a pageant other than my closest friends and immediate family.  However, throughout the course of pageant, I ended up telling more people about it than I had ever thought that I would.  I was honestly surprised by the amount of support I received because I never realized that my past friends, acquaintances, or colleagues would maybe care as to what I was currently doing in my life.  This was my biggest (and best) realization that I learned due to being apart of pageant.  I’m so thankful for everyone’s support!!!  In addition, I’m glad to have met so many wonderful people throughout this experience and to know that we’ll still be able to keep in touch long after pageant.  For the upcoming year as part of the 2014 Court, I hope that I can serve the community and represent MVNCI to the best of my ability, and to use this opportunity to hopefully inspire others positively in some way whether it be big or small.

Posted in Cathy Nguyen, MVNCI 2014 Royal Court Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |