Saturday, September 30, 2017

"The Great Minnesota Get Together”by Devika Narayan





Receiving the request to be a part of the State Fair parade was an invitation I wasn’t truly prepared for. Ever since I was little, I had always anxiously waited for the time of year when I could go experience all the fun and excitement the fair had to offer. Being invited to be a part of that experience brought a whole new level of excitement I had never felt before.

All four of the International queens were invited and we were able to join other state queens on the float!! It was so fun to see and hear about the experiences of other queens across the state and to hear about their accomplishments and goals for their reigns.

Other than the incredible other women that stood with me on the float, the experience of seeing what “The Great Minnesota Get Together”  really meant was unforgettable. To see someone’s face light up or even smile made me realize how prestigious this title really can be.




Other than my amazing experience on the float, I was able to represent my title as Miss Teen MN International at the Alzheimer’s Association booth. As it is my platform, the Alzheimer’s Association asked if I would like to volunteer and represent my cause at the fair, which excited me beyond words! By using the simplistic game of plinko, I was able to invite individuals to come, play, and learn of the effects of Alzheimer’s. It was really humbling on my part to be able to talk about Alzheimer’s in such a way to not only represent the association, but also to help spread the importance of prevention and my mission to find a cure. By participating in such fun appearances, I know I have fulfilled my duties as a queen.


Friday, September 29, 2017

"Queen’s Parade" by Stephanie Welter

 


    When I received the email request to appear in the State Fair parade, I nearly jumped out of my high heels! The great Minnesota Get Together is visited by record breaking numbers each year. This year alone over 1.9 people attended, and my family and I were among them only this year I got a very special seat.
    As a state titleholder with the International system, myself and my sister queens (the Miss, the Teen and the pre-teen) were all invited to ride the Queen’s float! It was thirty minutes of smiles, waves and laughter as we watched the crowd mirror back to us the official “royal wave.” We were surprised and delighted to see how familiar this royal hand-swaying gesture really is and we had to admit that many in the crowd had it mastered even better than we did!


 
    As we arrived on the grounds, our float awaited us like a chariot waiting to enter a royal processional. As the other minnesota royalty arrived, we each took our place on benches and platforms to prepare for the 40 minute ride. The girls, all in their beautiful sparkling gowns, banners and crowns, I was the least “formal” as my family and I had plans to visit the animal barns at enjoy at least one tub of the fair’s famous “Martha’s Cookies!”
    There’s truly nothing like watching thousands of strangers display smiles and waves of kindness, knowing that you represent their community and state with pride and grace.
Several times as we moved along the streets of the parade grounds, I heard my name yelled from the crowd and would look up with delight to see a familiar friend! One familiar voice especially caught my attention (the voice of my husband) and as I heard my name being called I frantically searched the sea of faces to find his. It took me several seconds but at least I saw my husband and our line of kids all along the curb smiling and waving with pride. My heart skipped a beat as I saw their faces, especially my son Benjamin for whom if it were not for his brave journey through what we know as “autism” I wouldn’t be up there as a representative not only of our beautiful state, but also of our precious and invaluable neuro-diverse community. I swallowed back a tear, blew them a kiss and proceeded to scan the crowd for new and excited little faces.
    After the parade my family and I enjoyed touring Minnesota’s businesses at the grand stand, marveling at record breaking, award winning livestock, and indeed indulging in funnel cakes, cookies and pronto pups!
    I have never been so proud to be a Minnesotan, and to represent the title of Mrs. Minnesota International than on that day among hundreds of thousands of friends and neighbors on a picture perfect August day!

'My Current Hometown" by Devika Narayan





The City of Plymouth, my current hometown, is the third largest suburb in Minnesota and one of the most simplistic yet incredible places yet. It’s easy for anyone to say that their hometown is fun for a various list of reasons, but Plymouth is definitively one of the best places to live, besides, we’ve won the best place to live in Minnesota for a countless amount of years. Now living here, I may be a bit biased in my opinion, but there are a ton of reasons to love Plymouth.



We have so many fun places to eat, like Honey and Mackie’s (my favorite place), a family-owned restaurant with the ABSOLUTE best ice-cream and fries. The food there is obviously really great, but the atmosphere is what really makes the place amazing. From the moment you step in you almost immediately feel welcomed. For me, that’s what makes it so memorable and keeps bringing me back. Other than all the amazing places to eat, there’s also so much to see!




The Plymouth Millennium Garden has to be one of the places I think back to when I think of a “fairytale garden”. The thousands of flowers and fountains in the garden make it the perfect place for any occasion, ranging from the weddings that have taken place there, to my various Girl Scout bridging ceremonies!! At the end of the day, it’s a city with so many special things to see and do, but I’ll just end this blog with that so you come visit me and see for yourself ;)!!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

" Project 427" by Stephanie Welter




    When Casey Schutrop of Wow Ministries first messaged me on Facebook to ask me to be a part of her Project I had no idea how it would change the world as I know it.
    Casey has organized local events for, a national effort called Project 427 that intercepts kids caught up in human trafficking, and help provide legal, housing and life development programs for them.
  
 
   I was shocked to learn that the project took it’s name after a set up statistics. Every hour, 42 children are trafficked 7 days a week. As an advocate of the Autism Community, I am also troubled to learn that special needs and vulnerable individuals are targets to trafficking.
    The 427 Project is both a coalition and a platform for a public awareness and education campaign before, during and after the Super Bowl 52 which happens in the Twin Cities in February 2018. What rocked me to my core, is when Casey explained to me that the children trafficked each year in the US would fill the 66,655 seats in the U.S. Bank stadium FIVE TIMES. She also told me that for cities that host a major event (like a super bowl) trafficking rates skyrocket in that city, and unfortunately, they do not come back down much in the months and years following.
  

 
 
  I was invited to two fundraising and awareness events, and when Casey does a thing….she does it right! I arrived on the beautiful grounds of the HighView stables to a summer celebration of BBQ chicken and other great food (including the best S’mores I’ve ever had) along with great drawing prizes, games and a live 11 piece musical ensemble!
  
 
  The most memorable thing however, was meeting the “behind the scenes” and “in the field” individuals who make intervention and prevention possible. From police sergeants to educators to therapists and a team of volunteers, it truly take a village of heartfelt, compassionate persevering individuals to help end and heal the devastation of human trafficking.
 
    I was awestruck to hear from those who were victimized by trafficking and what their lives had been reduced too. As Casey spoke, she mentioned that although we were in a beautiful area in a beautiful wealthy suburb in the Twin Cities, a brothel was in operation just 1.5 miles from our gathering.
    I was an am honored to partner with Project 427 to raise awareness, money and anything else needed to help set captives free from the every growing travesty that is human trafficking.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"My most memorable experience" by Serena Schreifels





So far, one of my most memorable experiences as Miss Minnesota International, has been the Miss International Pageant.  It was a week filled with not only the glitz and glamour of the pageant world, but volunteering and giving back. I met so many new and wonderful people and had experiences I will carry through the rest of my life.

 

Miss International was held in Charleston West Virginia.  I love the east coast and West Virginia has some of the most beautiful sceneries in the U.S. Orientation day, we met the Mayor of Charleston. He was so excited and humbled to have us there and the sense of community we all felt was tremendous. My favorite service project was interacting with the kids at the local boys and girls club. We colored, played games, and chatted about basketball and movies. It was so amazing to catch a glimpse of life through their eyes. 

 

Although I didn’t make top ten on finals night, I’m still proud of my performance. I know I did the best that I could and tried to make Minnesota proud as well.  I am so honored to have such amazing support here at home and this pageant only made me realize how much I love this state.  All the friends I made and the people who influenced me pageant week have left an imprint on my heart.  I can’t wait to see what’s coming next because of the experiences I had at Miss International.