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Waianae Elementary teacher steps out of comfort zone to compete in Narcissus Queen Pageant

"Being in Narcissus has made me more confident and has helped me make connections with different members of the community."

Deanna Choy is a second-grade teacher at Waianae Elementary.

In January, she took on another role: 3rd Princess on the 70th Narcissus Court.

The Narcissus Queen Pageant is part of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii's annual Narcissus Festival. Participants are exposed to a variety of classes designed to cultivate an intimate understanding of Chinese culture.

In her own words, Choy explains why she decided to enter the Narcissus Queen Pageant and what she gained from the experience:

"Running in the Narcissus Queen Pageant was something I never thought I would do, but I decided to take a step out of my comfort zone to learn about my Chinese culture.

I lacked a strong connection to my Chinese culture because my popo (grandmother) passed away when I was in elementary school and my other grandmother has Alzheimer's disease.

I want to be able to share my Chinese culture with my family, and the Narcissus Queen Pageant has allowed me to do that. I've learned so much about myself and my identity through the culture classes offered by the pageant. We had different classes, like tea drinking, calligraphy, kung fu, lion dancing, cooking, knotting, paper cutting, history, herbal medicine and acupuncture.

 
 

For her talent, Choy played "Flight of the Bumblebee" and "Mo Li Hua," a Chinese folk song, on the marimba.

The staff and students at Waianae Elementary were very supportive of me. When I returned to school after the pageant, I came back to my classroom to find a vase of roses and poster that said, 'Ms. Choy is our Queen.' Even though I'm not Queen, they all support me and are very interested to see what I do as a Princess.

The Narcissus Court was able to come to one of our Ohana Nights and help teach families about Chinese New Year. We had activities like lantern making and calligraphy for families to do. The kids loved it, and I loved bringing the Chinese culture to Waianae Elementary.

Being in Narcissus has made me more confident and has helped me make connections with different members of the community. It's fun to meet new people and get to know their story and what they do.

Fortunately, many of the appearances and functions are on the weekend or in the evening so I don't need to take off work. Managing being a teacher and a princess takes a lot of work and keeps me busy, but it's definitely worth it!"

Choy continues to make public appearances with the 70th Narcissus Queen and Court and, in June, will be traveling to China on a goodwill tour as a cultural ambassador.

Click here for more on the Narcissus Festival and Queen Pageant.

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