The last 5 months have been an amazing journey, full of new places, people and experiences.
In September I was lucky to be selected as a finalist in Miss Universe New Zealand. Not only was this exciting in itself, but all of the top twenty finalists were taken on a world-class retreat in Thailand. This fortunately fell in university holidays and I got to experience elephant polo (yes, teams riding on elephants!), horse riding and of course lots of photo shoots. The final was televised on Juice TV and held at SkyCity in Auckland where I was so happy to be named second runner up.
I spent November and December in Shanghai, China, which was unlike any other city I had visited - everything seemed bigger and busier. I was part of an advertisement shoot for Canon Inc., which will be used in 19 countries and I even had time to travel North to visit the Great Wall.
At the start of 2014 I represented New Zealand at the 26th World Miss University Competition held in Hwacheon, Korea. The theme of the pageant was 'World Peace' - I originally found this amusing as it seemed so stereotypically "beauty pageant". However, the trip was hugely powerful - there is nothing like visiting a country divided by war to understand its impact. We visited the Seoul National Cemetery where the remains of 165,000 victims of the Korean War are laid and the Memorial Tower where there are memorial tablets for 104,000 soldiers who died but whose bodies were never found. We also spent a day at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea and spoke with the soldiers who are conscripted. It was a wonderful experience meeting 41 other contestants from around the globe who were hugely diverse in terms of culture, look and interests. This diversity made the experience really rich and everyone was beautiful in their own way. As a part of the competition we had to speak at an International Forum and share our ideas on peace and the environment. Through this, on the final night, I won the award for best speaker which was a really nice surprise.
I am looking forwards to what 2014 will bring!
- Deborah Lambie
Finalist Miss Universe New Zealand