Exclusive interview with Miss Colorado US International Iman Oubou (Part I)
By Adnane Bennis
Morocco World News
New York, April 12, 2012
It is extremely hard, if not impossible, to define what beauty is or what is beautiful as the notion of beauty and beautiful rests on the eye of the beholder. It is an elusive concept that changes according to time and space, mood and inclination. Beauty is the ecstatic feeling that connects together the threads of body, mind and soul; it leads into a boost of happiness hormones and fuels the emotional thirst, which spontaneously calls for an uncontrolled smile as a gesture of appreciation for God’s creation.
Khalil Gibran, the prominent Lebanese poet and scholar, once said “beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” We usually emphasize on the physical attributes of beauty, while overlooking other abstract characteristics that lay beyond our conventional wisdom. Character, charisma, attitude, talent and knowledge are but a few qualities that are tantamount to fascination and loveliness.
To celebrate beauty and to give it a board scope beyond the physical and simplistic, competitions of beauty pageants have been organized internationally to rejoice the inner and outer beauty, promote goodwill, world peace as well as bond all different cultures based on acceptance and appreciation. This is a contest that honors intelligence, aptitude, originality, leadership not to mention beauty.
In this respect, Morocco is no exception. Either those who live inside or those who reside abroad, Moroccans embrace the international culture of peace and fraternity, rejoice the sweetness of beauty that symbolizes the prominence of a world worth to live in.
Following the footsteps of her fellow Moroccans in other parts of the world, such as Sarah Shafak, Miss Finish 2012, and Sara Moatamid, Miss Morocco 2012, Iman Oubou recently won Miss Colorado US International in January 2012. With her high intellectual qualifications, her outstanding language skills, her humanitarian and philanthropic leanings, the chances that Miss United States International to be Moroccan are great. Should Miss Oubou win this title, Morocco will be represented in Miss International by three candidates.
Morocco World News recently interviewed Iman Oubou from her home in Colorado.
AB: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Iman Oubou: My name is Iman Oubou and I am a proud Moroccan American. I was actually born in Morocco but raised in the US, especially within the beautiful state of Colorado. I come from a very diverse family which allowed me to be exposed to different cultures and appreciate all of them. As far as my education goes, I graduated from Colorado State University in May 2011 with a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. Then I took off to Germany for a three-month long Biomedical Internship. After my internship, I chose to come back home to Colorado to start a masters in Biomedical Engineering and a certificate in Bio-innovation entrepreneurship. So I am currently completing this masters at the Anschutz Medical campus (University of Colorado, Denver) while also being involved in global health.
As the co-president of students for global health, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Dr. Geelhoed (Hall of fame surgeon, Professor of International surgery, medical missionary and author) and talk to him about my long term medical missions goals. In December, I joined him and Mission To Heal for a medical mission to East Africa. It was by far the best experience and the highlight of my medical career. It definitely enhanced my love and passion for global healthcare and taught me more than I ever learned about medicine in class. Ever since, medical missions have definitely become a part of my life goals. With that being said, I am now in the process of organizing a medical mission to remote areas of Morocco that lack healthcare access/training. Mission To Heal team is very excited about this upcoming mission and we are hoping it will turn out successful and very productive! And I would like to take advantage of this interview to invite anyone that might be interested in helping. If you would like to help raise funds for the mission by donating at mission to heal, your assistance would be greatly appreciated.
AB: What does it mean to be Moroccan American?
Iman Oubou: As a Moroccan-American, I have only encountered positive environments here in the US. I have never dealt with any prejudice or discrimination issues. In fact, being a Moroccan-American –emphasizing on intercultural personality- is what opened up many doors and opportunities to me. The combination of the Moroccan and American cultures is (and will always be) the key to my present and future accomplishments and pursuits. It is also my responsibility as a Moroccan residing in the US to take the lead and promote the cultural and historical diversity of my native country and change the stereotypical image of Morocco as being an exotic country with nothing to offer. Given the fact that Morocco was the first country to recognize the US as a sovereign nation, the Moroccan-American friendship has lasted ever since 1777. And I am proud to call both these nations my home.
AB: Tell us about your experience in the US as an expatriate of Moroccan origin and particularly about your experience in the Miss Colorado US International.
Iman Oubou: The US consistently provides me with the right settings and opportunities to consolidate my background and chase after my dreams. I never felt out of place just because of my Moroccan origins. My experiences keep on getting better by the day and I could not be more thankful and grateful for being part of this amazing country. Now that I have the title of Miss Colorado US International, I have had the pleasure to meet some exceptional and inspiring people, support many charities, become the ambassador of a Children Advocacy Center, and receive great recognition for my efforts in global healthcare and humanitarian work. So far, it has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have always had big dreams of improving global healthcare (or at least try to) and I feel that my title, my responsibilities and my involvement with Mission To Heal are putting me a step closer to achieving those dreams.
MWN: What does Miss Colorado US International mean to you? Is it a responsibility, an honor, a privilege?
Iman Oubou: To me, this title is a responsibility, an honor and more of an opportunity than anything else to make this world a better place and become an inspiring role model. As a titleholder, it is my responsibility to be as much involved with my community as possible. I have to demonstrate my leadership in the sense of taking the lead to care for my home state, Colorado. My responsibilities include attending and supporting local charities events, spending time with the young Coloradans while inspiring them to follow their dreams, giving occasional speeches at schools, and mainly raising awareness about different social and medical topics. It is an honor to fill in this position and show Colorado and the rest of the world that I will be the best representative of my state and that my abilities to take action will contribute in improving my community. This title also represents an opportunity for me to emphasize and showcase my qualities, my intentions and my hard work in the hopes of someday becoming a great role model for women across the world.
AB: What are you passionate about? Is it fame, success, education, philanthropy, world peace?
Iman Oubou: I am definitely passionate about success, education and philanthropy. In fact, I think they are in a way related. I believe that in order for us to be successful, we need to consistently be educating ourselves in various topics. Learning has always been my number one priority and in today’s society, I think it is important to sustain a high education level, as it is the main key to all our career goals. As far as I am concerned, I was never raised to measure success by how much money I have in the bank account or by the kind of house or car I have. To me, success is measured by the impact my work and efforts will have on improving the community (especially in healthcare) and on inspiring the upcoming generation of young women to be great leaders. Being on the right path to achieve my dreams is already a success for me. And to give my success a meaning, I am also passionate about philanthropy because success wouldn’t mean much if I don’t use it in the sense of caring for humanity.
AB: Some people claim that beauty pageants do not really represent the true beauty of women and that they are looked at as super model fantasies who do not exist in reality. They also claim that these contests are diminishing to women who have been fighting for so long to be recognized as equal with their male counterpart. Do you agree with these claims? If not, how can you explain the mission and objective of beauty pageants?
Iman Oubou: I am aware that not everyone supports beauty pageants. However, I can say that this lack of support and their misconception about these contests come from a lack of research and knowledge about what beauty pageants really are about. Coming from experience, beauty pageants are a lot harder than what people think. It takes a lot of courage, strength and self-confidence to compete. Also preparing for them is even tougher than the actual competition itself because when the big day comes, you want to go up there and know that you have given it 150% and done everything you could to win it. Without preparation comes lack of self-confidence and without self-confidence, your chances of winning become very low. But is it all worth it you may ask? Absolutely! The objective of beauty pageants is to push you into working harder towards becoming the best version of yourself.
They force you to train everyday physically, mentally and psychologically to become an inspiration to others and become that leader you always saw yourself becoming. Beauty pageants give you the opportunity to prove to yourself and to the whole world that your inner and outer beauties will turn you into an amazing ambassador. I do not think that the concept of beauty pageants is degrading or diminishing to women whatsoever. I believe that these contests are a mean for women to achieve their dreams, be recognized for their hard work and efforts and most importantly to reinforce their self-confidence, public speaking skills, poise, stage presence and personality.
To Be Continued…
Adnane Bennis is co-founder and managing editor of Morocco World News. You can follow him on twitter @BennisAdnane
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