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Why I'm happy Miss Colombia took home the Miss Universe crown

Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega won the Miss Universe Pageant on Jan.25 held at Florida International University.

It was my first time attending the pageant and I learned how much the crown meant to the fans I encountered.

They brought along flags, donned costumes and cheered every time a pageant contestant from their country graced the stage.  It felt like I was at the Olympics or World Cup. These fans were hard-core.  I grew up watching Miss America, but never cheered on for country.  I just wanted to look like one of those girls.

I laughed at the absurdity.  How could one woman – known more for her beauty than brains – make such an impact on strangers? Was it a Kardashian type phenomenon?

Then I interviewed some of those strangers.  Apparently, the Miss Universe Pageant in some countries is a big deal. 

Now that we know Miss Colombia won the title, I am happy for those strangers, who shouting and waving their yellow, red and blue flag with pride.  I am only part Colombian.  My grandfather was from Bogota and I visited the country once as a young child. 

 \I have several aunts, uncles and cousins. A big extended family I’ve never met.

But  I did meet many Colombians at the pageant and the preliminary round.  They were passionate.  They looked at Miss Colombia like I look at LeBron James: a national hero.

Sure, in America if you say Miss Colombia won, no one will really care.  I think mostly because there’s a certain stereotype among americanos about Colombia that no one cares to address.

It is glorified in movies, rap songs, and even on TV a la “Modern Family” star, Sofia Vergara.   Cocaine, coffee, drug lords, and danger are just some of the words people associate with the South American country.

To me, that’s really a shame, not only for my family, but because all of the Colombian people I’ve ever met – related or not – are honest, hardworking folks.

When Vega won, it was a joyous occasion for the people of her country.  And as comical I find beauty pageants to be, I felt joy for them, too.

 

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