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November Community Service – UVSA 10th Annual Summit

Written by: Quan Huynh, MVNCI 2016 Queen

On Saturday November 19, Alex, Jullianne, and I hosted the “Boba & Chill” funshop for the 10th Annual Summit – Foundations: Identity to Action held by United Vietnamese Student Association of Northern California. This funshop was hosted for students currently enrolled in Northern California institutions, mainly members of the Vietnamese Student Associations.
We arrived at the University of the Pacific at 2:00PM. To start off our funshop, our 2016 Miss Social Jullianne, shared her networking tips that she learned from the pageant process with the funshop participants. Jullianne went above and beyond and even shared her personal Networking To-do’s checklist. Then, I led an icebreaker to encourage teamwork; as teamwork is extremely essential in order to accomplish the output quality.
After the icebreaker, our own MVNCI boba expert, Alex, was finally ready to teach participants how to make their own boba! Due to time constraints, Alex had already pre-cooked the pearls before leaving for Summit. However, Alex had prepared a detailed, well-written Powerpoint to show participants how to make the delicious boba milk tea step-by-step!
As Alex was wrapping up her Powerpoint, Jullianne and I began serving cups of milk tea of each of the students. We also brought grass jelly and rainbow jello as additional toppings–these all disappeared as quickly as the boba! This was also Jullianne and I’s first time tasting Alex’s boba tea and we have to say, it was delicious! Overall, we had a great time attending the 10th Annual Summit as funshop leaders with these students who are current leaders in their respective school’s Vietnamese Student Association in the Bay Area.
If you are interested in getting involved with UVSA or would like to attend Summit next year, please visit: http://norcaluvsa.org/

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/norcaluvsa

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A Union of Golden Hearts

Written by: Quan Huynh, MVNCI 2016 Queen

Photo Credits: Triphoto Tran


On Sunday, September 18th, the 2016 MVNCI Court had the honor of attending and participating at Golden Hearts’ annual fundraising dinner at Dynasty Restaurant in San Jose. Golden Hearts is a non-profit organization co-founded by Jessica Tran and Kieuxuan Nguyen. The organization puts in countless hours and effort to raise money for the school-aged children in Vietnam. They believe that every child should have a chance at a quality education. Every summer, Golden Hearts travels to Vietnam to donate and assist people in need. MVNCI has been a proud supporter of Jessica and her team for many years.

This year, on top of attending the event, the 2016 MVNCI Court also participated in the fashion shows! Court members had a chance to walk in beautiful spring dresses sponsored by Vindyco by Cindy Vo and showcase our own áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress). We were all very grateful for the opportunity to showcase beautiful outfits while supporting a wonderful cause.
On behalf of MVNCI, we would like to congratulate Jessica Tran and her team for another successful fundraising event! If you are interested in donating towards this cause, please visit http://aunionofgoldenhearts.org/ or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/aunionofgoldenhearts/

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Pageant Experience: Quan Huynh- MVNCI Queen


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.

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Congratulations to our new 2014 Court Members!

Introducing our 2014 Miss Vietnam of Northern California-Intercollegiate Court:


Photos by: Hoang Le at www.HoangLePhotography.com and Bill Grayson at www.WSGPhotography.com

Queen: Christina Truong
1st Princess: Crystal Bui
2nd Princess: Cathy Nguyen
Miss Ao Dai: Mandy Dang
Miss Social: Cindy Nguyen
Miss Photogenic: Quy Hoa Le
Miss Talent: Crystal Bui
Miss Entrepreneur: Mandy Dang
Miss Congeniality: Crystal Bui

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Becoming Queen of MVNCI 2013

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Photos courtesy of Moses Sison, Kim Nguyen, Todd Fong Photography, David L. Pham, Vu Cong Hien, and Vinh Tran.

Miss Vietnam of Northern California Intercollegiate 2013 was the very first pageant I ever attended, let alone participate in.  On pageant day, the Campbell Heritage theater was abuzz with activity.  Stage crew and other performers were scattered in the hallways and at the wings of the stage, dressing rooms had clothes and heels tossed about, helpers assisted with wardrobe changes, and thirteen other beautiful young ladies hurriedly fixed each other’s makeup and hair, ate whenever there was a break, or sat quietly reflecting on possible interview questions.  These are the snapshot images from pageant day that I will remember.  Moreover, I will not forget the journey of months of practices, the support of my family, friends, and sponsors, the time and commitment from staff, and the friendships created with my pageant sisters.

Surprisingly, on the day of pageant I was most nervous about the traditional dance performance and not the on-stage interview questions.  During dance practices, I was confident with my dancing—that was until the contestants were given a larger, and for me a more flimsy, fan to dance with.  My first opportunity to dance with the larger fan was the day before pageant; the weekend before I was in Southern California for an unexpected family event.  After my return, I felt that my dancing wasn’t quite the same and my fear was that I would drop the fan to the ground.  My pageant sisters Giang and Stephenie were so helpful to review the dance movements with me, and another pageant sister, Tien, would act goofy at the wings of the stage to ease my tension.  In the end, I was able to complete the dance choreography without dropping the fan and I was secretly ecstatic.

Following the dance performance was the ao dai segment where the contestants showcased their Vietnamese traditional dress.  I was amazed by the colors, trains, materials, and embellishments that composed each ao dai.  For me, I was very excited for this segment because I was wearing a khan dong headpiece that I designed and embellished myself.  I was also wearing the earrings and bracelets that my mom had handmade.

After that was the evening gown segment.  I was worried about the loose fitting of my dress; however, this worry was quickly replaced by feeling distress for Hally, who had experienced a dress mishap.  In spite of this, Hally remained composed and calm despite the backstage chaos of staff trying to assist her.  I admire her for being so strong and showing the audience her poise regardless of what she may have felt inside.

The question I received most often from my family and friends while I was competing was, “Do you think you’ll get to be the Queen?”  To be honest, I couldn’t have anticipated it.  I felt that I might have a shot at Top 8 based on my hard work, preparedness, and punctuality at practices from December through March, and being overall quite happy with my pre-pageant interview with the judges.  However, I was uncertain whether I would be selected for Top 5, and I could only wish to be selected as one of the Top 3.  When all the titles were crowned except for Queen, I truthfully did not know who might be called.

Then the words came, “The lucky winner for tonight is Contestant Number… 12!”  I was humbled to be selected, a bit teary eyed, and quietly overjoyed.  I was given a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a scepter, and a dazzling crown.

Since then, as Queen I have participated in various events and activities with the MVNCI Court.  Our adventures so far have included educating the community about human trafficking and Hepatitis B, encouraging participation in sports, showcasing the fashion designs of Asian American designers, celebrating the contributions of Asian Americans in film and new media, and assisting at charity fundraisers.

What I look forward to most during my reign as Queen is spearheading community service projects.  This month, the Court members and I will be volunteering our time with Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to grow our national parks through seed collection, propagation, transplanting, and pruning plants.  Next month, we will be volunteering with Brides Against Breast Cancer by helping brides find their dream wedding gowns; the gown sales will go toward funding programs that are free to cancer patients and their families.  Lastly, I look forward to combining my law school education and experience working at pro bono legal clinics to provide legal outreach to Vietnamese Americans in the Sacramento area.

I am truly excited about this upcoming year.  I encourage you to continue following our blog to read about our events and activities.  I hope you will continue to follow our adventures via our Facebook Page, where you can view our photos and receive our latest updates. Thank you for supporting the 2013 MVNCI Court and joining us on our exciting journey.

See you soon!
Queen Yolanda Vo



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