Miss Samoa Last Stop: Kazakhstan
It’s been a busy and eye-opening year for the current Miss Samoa Priscilla Olano. And she doesn’t regret it one bit.
To top off her amazing year, the stunning 26-year-old has recently returned from a country many people have never heard of – Kazakhstan.
Located in central Asia, Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world and shares borders with neighbouring countries China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.
Priscilla was part of a Samoan contingent that attended the Expo 2017 in the nation’s capital of Astana last month.
Expo ’17 is five billion dollar Future Energy forum designed to inform, inspire and foster participation and exchange with other countries and to create a global platform for a future of renewable energy.
The Expo which is currently in full swing at present and has already attracted over 2.5 million visitors.
“Our little team of ten was actually there to promote Samoa via our Samoa Tourism dance troupe,” she says. “And to explore and learn more about projects and technology that are energy-efficient and to bring these ideas back to Samoa.”
Other attendees to the Expo ’17 included high-level government representatives, international agencies, leading scientists and academics, NGOs, visionaries and leaders, innovators in industry and engineering, and other key players and stakeholders in the energy sector
Priscilla says although it was a whirlwind three-day trip, Samoa certainly made an impression with spectators.
“For our Samoa National Day showcase, the costumes and performances drew a lot of attention – and a large following. We had a parade around the expo venue, and people were following us around and even dancing along with the group,” she laughs.
“It was as almost as if we were contagious! The security guards that were escorting us were trying to learn the fa’ataupati and forgot that they were supposed to keep the crowd under control. But even more special were little girls pointing at my friend Joanna and shouting, ‘Moana! Moana!’ because of the tuiga she wore. It was very neat to see.”
Priscilla says the visit was definitely worth the 20 hour flight to Astana. In awe of the amazing architecture at the expo, she says it was like ‘something out of a sci-fi movie.’
“My favorite site at the expo venue was the spherical building. It has eight floors, and each floor displayed projects and technology of a specific energy source. For example one floor was dedicated to solar energy, one to wind energy and my personal favorite – space energy.
“The building itself is about 75% powered by renewable energy with solar panels all around it and it took about four years to build it. At night it would light up with beautiful graphics. We also got to see Akon perform live. That was my first concert ever!”
As she prepares to hand over the Miss Samoa crown this weekend to her successor, Priscilla reflects on the ‘blessings’ during her reign. Although the opportunity to travel to Kazakhstan came as an official invitation directly from the organizers of the World Expo in Astana, she believes the visibility of being a Miss Samoa can lead to unique opportunities.
“I am indeed grateful and honored for this opportunity. At first I was a bit skeptical because based on the research I did, I came across a lot of bad reports of the country and I was a bit concerned for the safety of our group. But Astana was beautiful! Getting to see the various projects and rapidly advancing technology was definitely beyond anything I had ever imagined.
“Here I was in a foreign country – the only beauty pageant queen from the Pacific and representing Samoa to a whole different audience. Talking about my Samoa and sharing our Fa’aSāmoa with people who have never even heard of Samoa was a humbling experience. You never really appreciate where you’re from until you are far away from home, in a foreign place and have a foreigner tell you that your home is paradise.”