No doubt, the recently concluded Miss International 2012 was not just about the final competition. In fact, during those three weeks that the contestants had spent in Okinawa, friendships were nurtured and endless of lifetime memories were cherished. It is an honor that Missosology is able to share the testimonies of two contestants and roommates about their experiences, their friendship, and their thoughts about the final night and the eventual winner, Japan's Ikumi Yoshimatsu.
Representing Gibraltar was Kerrianne Massetti. She is the first ever Miss International contestant coming from the British overseas territory on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, right at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. Joining this annual pageant did not come as easy for Kerrianne. Being the runner-up at last April's Miss Gibraltar pageant, Kerrianne had to push for their government to acquire the license so she could come to Japan.
Just like Kerrianne, Guam's Chanel Cruz-Jarrett was also as a runner-up in her national pageant. While the winner is going to represent the U.S. island territory in the western Pacific to the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas this December, Channel earned the right to come to Okinawa, and at 18, she was one of the youngest contestants in the pageant.
Can you share to our readers some of the memorable moments that you have had during the Miss International 2012 pageant?
Kerrianne: "Now that I am back on Gibraltar, I have a chance to reminisce about my experience and I can safely say, it exceeded my expectations. Those three weeks seem surreal, and I find it very hard to pin point a favourite part. I loved learning the art of karate, visiting historical sites, learning about the beautiful culture of Okinawa, including the Okinawa samba, eating goya, dressing up in a Yukata while watching the fireworks, being part of the Tug of War, visiting the school children and watching them perform for us, performing my talent in a beautiful resort, kayaking, the ladies forum, and the evening parties!"
Chanel : "The pageant activities were worth waking up early too! I have never been so exhausted in my life, but for those three weeks in Okinawa I learned so much from history, culture, food, and people! I loved my experience there, they made me feel so overwhelmed with everything going on but also made me miss everyday I spent there."
If you were to choose only one event that stood out as the most memorable, which one would it be and why?
Kerrianne: "If I had to choose, it would be the International Parade. I was very excited to parade in my national costume but must admit it was boiling wearing it on the day as the cape was made out of velvet material. It was an honor to stand beside the other 68 girls walking down the street and greeting one of the most welcoming communities I have been too! It was great to see all the girls wearing what they thought was the best interpretation and representation of their culture. When we were waiting at the hotel lobby to be escorted to the bus, I was amazed by the detail of the costumes and even more amazed of how some people got through customs as they were HUGE!"
Did you make a lot of friends? Anything that you want to share about the friendships that you fostered during the course of the competition?
Chanel: "Don't even get me started on the friendships! Lol! In the beginning me and my group were all strangers. The first one I met and became friends with was my roommate (Miss Gibraltar), and I wouldn't trade her for any other roommate! Like she says she is a older version of me! We never fought once, all we did was laugh at every single thing. I miss her already. And when the days kicked in me and my group automatically connected and became so close that we have a plan to go to each of our countries each year on a holiday and experience they're culture history and people!"
Kerrianne: "Miss Guam and I clicked from the start, we had one major thing in common - we're messy! She was the younger version of me, so we became two peas in a pod! The first week is all about opening up as a person and cultural exchange which also made it easier to get to know the girl behind the sash! And by my photos you can see we all bonded fast and I feel lucky to have met so many different, beautiful, ambitious and motivated girls from across the world. You spend so much time together that you develop inside jokes, ... (Peanut tofu, weally instead of really and "That one time in band camp" ... Group B knows what I am talking about!). One person who became one of the girls was my chaperon, Mijo! She's my Japanese mum, and it was sad to say bye! I have decided she must come to my wedding, but she knows I have to find a boyfriend first!!!"
What can you say about the pageant night itself? Is there anything you wish could have been done better?
Kerrianne: "The thrill of being on stage surpassed the exhaustion. I must admit the time management of the lead up to the final was not ideal as we were all so exhausted and had to layer on double concealer to hide the dark circles. It was a tight schedule having to have a dress rehearsal on the morning of the show and also there were not enough time to cater for final make up and hair touches! If I were to change something, it would have been to start the rehearsals early on in the week and then have the dress rehearsal on the Saturday and leave the morning for us to prepare for the show!
Other than that I loved being on stage, and adored the opening song chosen by Steve for our national costumes! When it came to announcing the winner, there were some strong candidates who could have easily taken the title of Miss International."
What can you say about Ikumi's victory? What is your opinion of her?
Chanel: "On pageant night, on stage, when they were about to announce who Miss International 2012 was and (the emcee) said Miss Japan (Ikumi), I was so overjoyed I never felt like that in my life, I never cried so hard and had so many tears of joy. It was just the best feeling I could have for her. I was so happy that when I saw Miss Hong Kong, we both started crying even harder and hugging each other because we knew that it was Ikumi's and her father's dream. I'm just so happy for her. And when it was time for all of us to leave, I cried and I miss them so much!"
Kerrianne: "When they called out Ikumi's name, I screamed as if they had said Gibraltar. I was extremely happy for her! For me she is a very deserving winner, being grouped together with her she shined from the first day. She has elegance and grace and she was ready to take on the role of Miss International. She was always very natural, funny, never fought for attention and had the added pressure of not only being a contestant but a host! I became very close to Ikumi and all I can say is that I am extremely proud of her and Gibraltar supports her all the way!"