By Emanuela Bringi

On August 24th 2013 I had the most amazing opportunity of competing in my very first pageant, Miss Africanada. This pageant was not like any other pageant that we see on television, the main focus was drive to create change in our communities here in Canada and potentially back home in our chosen country.

My vision and platform was focused on youth and enhancing opportunities in any way possible. Many of the time we say education is the key, but the term can be broadened just as easy. I believe education has many different streams, whether it is education in a school system, education about our local environment, education about opportunities or education about the self.

I feel that we as leaders must instill vision, strength and resilience in our future leaders of tomorrow. With vision there is drive, with strength there is the ability to motivate and with resilience there is the power of never backing down and with all of that we have education.
 
The thing that grasped me is that in learning about the pageant it did not come across as a materialistic beauty pageant; it was titled African Heritage Pageant and the beauty of it comes from the love that you have for your continent, country and background. This pageant very much relates to the Voices against Violence project in the sense that we as young African leaders were all using our voices to speak against the violence that has digressed most of our countries and communities and now we have used our voice and our stories to create change.
 
I got to learn so much about myself during the months of the pageant. I learned how to network, I learned that as long as I am putting myself out there that good things will come. I have met many people who are on board to support me through my journey, I have met great friends with the same passion as myself and I have finally learned what it means to be proud of yourself.  Even though we may beat ourselves up at times, once you feel true accomplishment there is nothing better than smiling and loving yourself.  I have much more knowledge, strength and power than I did before coming into this competition. I gained amazing networks and supporters. I learned my strengths and sustained them and my weaknesses I am working on them and I am surly defeating them. In all I earned the position of 1st Runner Up. I also got the award for Best Traditional and Most Dedicated. I am extremely proud of myself and I am looking forward on more opportunities to come. Work Hard Play Hard.

About the Author:

Emanuela Bringi is a founding member of the Voices against Violence National Youth Board, and a former co-researcher in the project's first London-based research group.

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