In April of 2018, Club International’s “Miss Universe” pageant will return as “Miss Plattsburgh International”. President of Club International Kendall Joseph played a large role in making PSUC’s first cultural pageant a reality.
“We didn’t really have a big event that was our own as a club” Joseph said. Other international clubs, such as Club Caribbean and African Unity, have hosted different types of pageants in past years, according to Joseph. “This is one that everyone could be a part of, so we just thought it would be fun to showcase all culture around the world.”
Multiple countries such as China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Spain and Taiwan were represented in last year’s pageant. Interested students signed up if they wanted to participate and were then interviewed about which country they wanted to represent and what talent they wanted to showcase for the audience. Joseph emphasized that the pageant was not based on beauty.
“[It’s about] how best you can represent your country,” Joseph said. “As long as the person is passionate about their country, that’s the [most important] requirement.”
Due to a late start getting the pageant off the ground last semester, Club International wanted to get the word out sooner in order to give interested contestants time to prepare their performance. Posting in PSUC’s student digest email server allowed the club to tell the rest of campus about the pageant’s return.
The renamed pageant will likely follow the same procedures as last year. Round one will be a “walk” of each contestant on the stage. Round two will be a talent portion of the competition where the contestants will perform a cultural routine.
When the top five countries are chosen, each contestant will be asked a question about social issues specific to their country, “to see how much they know and how strong their nationality is,” according to Joseph.
Representing Haiti, winner Kira Paulemon was honored to be PSUC’s first Miss International Plattsburgh. As an international student and political science and Latin American studies major, she’s also very involved in student clubs and organizations around campus.
Home during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Paulemon feels she has a deep personal connection to her home country and studies political science to get involved and make an impact.
“All of my life-changing events happened in Haiti and I think that this makes it even more special of a place to me,” Paulemon said. “If I could say that a piece of land can be a soulmate, I think I would.”
Singing and dancing to a traditional Haitian song as a testimony to Haitian culture and heritage, she stresses the importance of acclimating to western culture, but not forgetting where one comes from.
“Although the country is not rich, it’s taught me all that I know in terms of my values such as generosity, empathy, compassion, how to be greatful, how to be happy and how to appreciate what I have for what it is,” Paulemon said.
Paulemon won’t be participating in this year’s pageant, but said she will work with Club International to mentor new girls and share pride for their country and a unique idea of beauty for other international students.
Miss Puerto Rico, Janelle Burgos, was also happy to showcase her culture in last year’s pageant.
“It was a great experience,” Burgos said. “I had an amazing time researching, expressing and sharing my culture with everyone who came.”
Burgos rehearsed and performed the Puerto Rican national anthem on violin for her talent portion of the competition. In addition to being a biology and adolescent education major, Burgos is a second generation Puerto Rican woman and thought performing in the pageant would help her connect more to her family’s culture. “I grew up in the culture, but the pageant gave me a way to find a deeper connection with my roots in the history,” Burgos said.
After seeing the results and positive feedback from last year’s pageant, Joseph felt like a “proud father” and he strongly advocates for country representation at PSUC. “We had a really good turn-out,” Joseph said. “At first, I didn’t really see the great possibilities of [hosting] the pageant, but after going through the process, it made me realize just how important it is to showcase all these different cultures.”
Joseph and Club International hope to introduce new faces and countries to the Miss International Plattsburgh pageant next semester with a goal to crown a new international princess.
Email Emma Vallelunga at firstname.lastname@example.org