By Annie Guo | Asian Avenue magazine
Mai Choua Lee took the stage at the Colorado Hmong New Year Celebration on December 1 to reflect on her two years as Miss Hmong Colorado and give her farewell.
She shares, “What was most rewarding about being the first Miss Hmong Colorado was that I was able to help the Hmong community in ways I never thought I could.”
“When I was first crowned in 2011, the only thing I could think of to help the Hmong community was to host a fundraising event, but in the end, I ended doing so much more such as putting together a Hmong Idol competition, putting together a Hmong classroom to teach the Hmong youth how to read and write in Hmong, along with learning about the Hmong culture as well.”
Lee also assisted the 2013-2014 New Year Committee in organizing the Singing and Dance Competition for this year’s New Year Celebration.
While the Miss Hmong Colorado title is for one year, Lee served two years since a pageant was not hosted in 2012. From her two-year experience, she has learned that being Miss Hmong Colorado is not an easy task. She said there were days that she wanted to give up, but then she would remember all of the people who supported and believed in her.
“The feeling of wanting to do your best overcomes that feeling of giving up.”
She shares, in the words of Harvey Mackay, “No one said it’d be easy, they just promised it’d be worth it.” And for Lee, in the end, all of the hard work was worth it.
With the crowning of Sanakee Xiong, the new Miss Hmong Colorado, Lee looks forward to seeing how Xiong will bring together the Hmong community.
Lee will serve as a guide and mentor for Xiong in the new year. “Because the Miss Hmong Colorado Pageant is still so new to the Colorado Hmong community, I plan to still be a part of the committee and help out in any way that I am needed.”
She hopes that Xiong will not only grow the Hmong community, but also grow herself. “For me, my Hmong language was not great at the time I was crowned, but throughout the years volunteering and assisting the Hmong community, my Hmong language has gotten better.”
Lee hopes to help Xiong with this area because “communication is key, especially with the elders.” She also plans to encourage more members of the Hmong community to get involved and participate in more events.
Lee is a Business and Communications student at the University of Colorado Denver and anticipates to graduate Spring 2015.