A new Miss Samoa 2017/2018 will be crowned tonight at Gym 1 Tuanaimato.
The event is the finale of the 27th Teuila Festival and one that reigning Miss Samoa, Priscilla Paleagaese Olano, has mixed feelings about. She is excited and sad at the same time.
While the pressure of being the face of Samoa will finally lift when she presents the crown, she will also miss the fun that came with the role.
“My experience in this one year has been an incredible journey,” she told the Weekend Observer.
“I know I’m not the same person I was last year when I ran for Miss Samoa. I was really shy and hardly would speak to people. I was very nervous to speak in front of crowds to the point I would cry.
“But I think one year later, I’m all confident. I know who I am, I know what I want, I know what to say and I can now say that with confidence and with the new girl that will be crowned; I am excited.”
Ms. Olano has been with the nine contestants throughout the week.
“I know Samoa is very excited to see who the next Miss Samoa will be,” she said.
“And I really think that as the years go by, Miss Samoa will just get better and better and I believe the next Miss Samoa will be even better than I did.”
Ms. Olano said she has so many memorable moments.
“I think one of the best ones was a recent trip that I went on with the Samoa Tourism dance group to Astana Kazakhstan,” she recalls.
“We were there for the World expo in Astana and we had the chance to showcase Samoan culture.
“We had a booth with everything about Samoa and we even had a Samoa National Day where we performed and got to talk about Samoa so that was exciting because in Astana they’ve never heard of Samoa.
“So seeing us perform and seeing what our culture is like, it really sparked an interest and you can really see a contrast in cultures and just opportunities to talk about where you’re from.
“That was very exciting and definitely the most memorable one.”
Nothing in this life is without a challenge but it takes a brave heart to fight until the end.
Ms. Olano said there were challenges along the way but those challenges she had turned into life lessons.
“I guess it comes with any opportunity; you know there’s always the good and always the bad,” she said.
“I can’t really pinpoint any challenges but I guess it’s living up to expectations whereas Miss Samoa is after all, considered a national icon.
“And to live up to that standard and you know there are times that it does get challenging but it does help you grow in a way. So after the one year and then you’re done and then you realize ‘oh I did that,’ and it’s something you carry for the rest of your life.”
She has fulfilled her duty to the Samoan community and now she is ready to go back to work.
“Next year I do have a planned project. We are planning to set up a dance center, hopefully next year. I do have some interest so I’m really working on getting that center up.”
In the meantime, she acknowledges all the people of Samoa who have supported her in her journey.“To the new Miss Samoa, my advice to you is; keep your head, your heels and your standards high. It’s going to be a challenging year but it will be an exciting year and remember God is with you all the way.
“He’s your strength and once you know that, you know who’s on your team, you can do anything.
Lastly, she said: “To Samoa, to all of you who have supported me over this year, from the bottom of my heart; I say thank you.
“There’s no words that can describe how grateful and how appreciative I am of your support because it has really helped to lift me up in a lot of dark times.
“To the Miss Samoa, thank you for giving me this opportunity, this honor to represent you for this one year and I look forward to what lies ahead and again please show that same support for the next Miss Samoa. Continue to keep her in your prayers and God bless you Samoa and thank you very much.”