US classmates 'did not welcome me': beauty queen

By Phong Kieu   November 28, 2023 | 11:08 pm PT
Miss Earth Vietnam 2023 Do Thi Lan Anh said she was initially not welcomed by her classmates in the U.S. due to her lack of English skills.
Miss Earth Vietnam 2023 Do Thi Lan Anh. Photo courtesy of Anh

Miss Earth Vietnam 2023 Do Thi Lan Anh. Photo courtesy of Anh

"I did not know an English word when I first moved to the U.S. [with my family]," the beauty contest winner said. "I suffered from confusion and culture shock back then, and my classmates did not welcome me either because of my inability to communicate."

Anh said she was fortunate to have her teachers supporting her in blending in with her classmates. At the same time, her mother motivated her to be confident in her distinct characteristics, and her English ability gradually improved.

"It took me two years to have friends," she said. "I started to feel the place [the U.S.] was my home after that, though I wish I could return to Vietnam sometimes as I missed my grandparents and cousins."

The beauty pageant winner said she then had a joyful school time with her friends. Going to the cinemas or camping on the weekends, and inviting her friends over to her family’s place to enjoy Vietnamese food like pho were among her and her friends’ favorite bonding activities.

Looking back, Anh said she felt lucky to enjoy an international background like that.

"I think I have more knowledge about various cultures, especially Asian cultures, which can help me bring distinct values compared to my peers," Anh said.

"I see myself as a woman with good communicative skills and always knows how to express herself, so I did not have any problem working in the U.S. anymore."

This varied background and experience are what motivated her to compete in the 2023 Miss Earth Vietnam pageant, she said.

"Returning to Vietnam last July, I aimed to find ways to improve myself and learn about Vietnamese culture and society," she said. "And I thought the Miss Earth Vietnam pageant was a perfect chance for me to do this."

Eventually becoming the pageant’s title winner does not mean the beauty queen did not encounter any struggles on the way. Anh said she felt like she had to leave her settled life in the U.S. behind and start over again in Vietnam.

"I had to find friends again here," she said. "It’s almost like I had to start everything over again."

"But instead of regrets, I just feel excited. I want to pursue every choice I make with all my heart."

Anh, 26, graduated from California State University. She is set to represent Vietnam at the 2023 Miss Earth contest, which is scheduled to take place in Ho Chi Minh City from Nov. 28 to Dec. 21.

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