2010 Fourth Princess, Carrie Gan


Six months has passed since the day of thrill and excitement—the day of the 2010 Miss LA Chinatown pageant.

I was recently interviewed by LA 18's LA Living and it was a wonderful experience.

This year I had the privilege to China with the rest of the Miss LA Chinatown court to represent the Chinese American community.

I consider myself extremely lucky because, thanks to our sponsor Yihua Company, the ENTIRE Miss Los Angeles court was able to go to China. Usually, only the top two winners get to go, so I feel very fortunate that I had this opportunity. Some of my favorite memories of the trip include practicing Cantonese in Hong Kong, witnessing China’s beauty through the Great Wall and World Expo, as well as learning Kung Fu from the Shaolin monks. However, for me, the one highlight of the China trip that I will always remember is visiting Yihua Company in Shantou. My whole trip to China was made possible by this company, so I really wanted to meet the owners and thank them personally. It was amazing to see how big the company grew in just a matter of years—starting with only a few hundred dollars in the 1980s and now employing over 8,000 employees as an international power brand. Everyone in the city knew about Yihua—the company even has their own song that is available in the local karaoke selection! Despite their presence, the owner and vice president of Yihua still took time to meet with us and make sure our stay was pleasant. They gave us a tour of their many factories, museum, farmland (that they give provide for their employees), lumber yard, as well as their five-story guest vacation villa. As the vice president explained the history and current operations of Yihua, there clearly was a sense of pride in their company and city. Through our bicycle rickshaw rides in the city and attentive meals, I truly felt humbled by Yihua’s warm welcome into their home. Who was I to be granted this experience of a lifetime by such kind individuals?

The entire pageant experience from the application process to the trip to China has truly been about being the best ME. Through meeting amazing individuals such as the owners of Yihua as well as the current Queen and court members, each experience helped me become a better person. I realized this pageant was not about competing with the other girls—there are always girls who will be taller than me, prettier than me, smarter than me, “fill in the blank” than me. When I reflect back on why I decided to compete in the pageant to begin with, I realized it was because it was something that scared me, and something that I had never done before. I was scared of being on stage, of being stereotyped as “one of those beauty queen types,” and of investing so much heart into the pageant only to be disappointed. However, I also realized that the opportunities for personal growth would be greater than all my fears combined. It was the lure of becoming someone of grace and poise, of elegance and confidence, and also of maturity and integrity that drew me to compete with my inner being for a solid four to five months of pageant preparation. From public speaking practice to memorizing dance routines (I’ve never took a formal dance class before) to learning what my views are on every current event topic, I challenged myself to look beyond the skin and the physical events happening around me. The most important part of the pageant would be growing and learning from it.

On the night of the pageant, I got much more than I had hoped for. I had a screaming crowd of over 50 friends, family, and supporters cheering me on. All my fears quickly dissipated with each step I took on stage. My support crowd occupied a good sixth of the room in the back and was waving their “Carrie” posters frantically with fervor and passion. I was awestricken with emotion about how many people came to support me in this competition against… my best self. With so much loving support from friends who believe in whatever I commit to, I knew I had won already. The pageant experience was ultimately about learning lessons of love for my friends, family, and for MYSELF and not about whether or not I had placed high enough. So would I take back any of the precious lessons I have learned? Absolutely not.