In her West Shore home Brooke Nguyen adjusts her decorations left from Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.
They serve as a reminder of her homeland that she left 30 years ago.
“I am one of the boat people refugees,” says Nguyen. “I was sitting on the boat, my boat was very small with nine people, five adults and four children and it took us four months to get to Hong Kong.”
It was when she first arrived in Canada that Nguyen was encouraged to enter beauty pageants, but the then-teenager wasn’t convinced.
“I was young and [beautiful] and my community they asked me to compete [in pageants] and at that time I was shy and I was scared and so I denied it,” says Nguyen.
Flash forward to 2011 when Nguyen entered and won her first pageant. Since then she has competed internationally and this year Nguyen will represent Vietnam in the Mrs. Universe pageant.
“I tried for Canada because I live in Canada but they said that Canada already had somebody, so that meant I had to go with my background,” says Nguyen.
Entering the competition also meant going through a thorough screening process.
“The application had to be processed and checked carefully and they do have a phone interview too,” she said.
The Mrs. Universe pageant is not just a one-day affair. The women will be judged over the course of 10 days with their every move scrutinized, as well as their history of giving back to their community.
“It’s not like ‘oh yeah I’m prettier than her or she’s prettier than me,’ it’s not about that,” says Nguyen.
“It’s about what you do for the community, what you do for [other] women, what you do for the people that are in need.”
Mrs. Universe runs from Apr. 11 to 23 in Seoul, South Korea.
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