Northern Marianas Academy junior Gianna Chantal Camacho was crowned last year as Miss Teen Marianas, running under the platform of culture and diversity. This year, Camacho will soon be launching an event and campaign that will encourage young girls to represent their culture and heritage.
“I would like to encourage not only teens but everyone to have an open mindset, try to think of things in a different way and accept the diversity that we encounter in our everyday lives,” she told Saipan Tribune in an interview.
Culture, she explained, is important in many ways. “ It provides a backbone for one to stand upon, generally accepted and understood values and terms. …Culture also plays a huge part on people’s individuality. Living on Saipan we are surrounded by numerous cultures that can help us stand out and be unique.”
In September, the Marianas Visitors Authority sent Camacho to Japan to represent the islands in the annual JATA tourism expo.
“It was an amazing opportunity where I met many different people and was able to educate them about the Mariana Islands and try to get them to visit to experience our unique culture as well,” she said.
By having more teens engaged in island culture, Camacho hopes to help teens find their true identity.
“Before I joined Miss Teen I was very shy, and it was hard for me to get close to new people. By joining I was able to improve my social skills and speech skills. It also opened up a huge number of other opportunities that I could attend.”
She urges schools to provide extra-curricular activities that enable students to participate in cultural practices.
“I believe supervisors and teachers really need to be passionate about what they’re teaching and encouraging the teens to do so that they can become inspired and stick with the new activities that they try,” she said.