Unification News for January, 1997

A Russian In Tokyo

by Katya Puhova-St. Petersburg, Russia

Katya Puhova won the title of "Miss University." in the Mister & Miss University Pageant.

It was not until I was on the airplane flying over Siberia toward Japan that I fully realized, "I am the participant of 19th Beauty Pageant "Mister & Miss University"!" Of course I had prepared, and part of the reason that I didn't fully realize the opportunity that lay before me was because I had been so busy preparing that I was exhausted, plus it was a busy time at my university add to that all my volunteer activities and you can understand why my final readiness came to me only as my plane descended to the runway.

I exited the plane determined to be a good representative of Russia. Finally I could feel a sense of higher purpose and I felt proud to be a participant in the Mister & Miss University Pageant, which was intended by it's founders, Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, to promote international understanding and moral values before the people of the world, most especially youth. I felt God's purpose.

On the first day all 32 participants from 16 countries gathered together in their native costumes: China, Taiwan, Croatia, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Romania, Russia CIS, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Venezuela, and USA. It was beautiful.

I could feel that each person, not only I, was having an extraordinary experience. One of the first people I met was Erdenehorloo Jamianolory from Mongolia. Wow! What a long name! Fortunately I have a memory for long names. Russian names can also be rather long. And fortunately we have nicknames. I, "Katya" (short for Ekaterina) had a talk with "Erka". At first it wasn't easy since she was limited in her English, yet I could see that Erka is very interesting and loving person. She wanted to know as much as possible about others and was terribly frustrated by her limitation of language. Finally we realized that we both knew Russian. She was so happy. All the Russian she had studied in school (when Mongolia was part of the USSR) came back to her. We instantly became as old friends. We didn't feel that we were representatives of two nations which had almost destroyed each other. We were getting to know each other. I realized in many different relationships we had that language difference is not a problem if you really want to know a person. The is a language of heart can transcend all barriers.

I became very good friends with Lanissa Strait from USA. When people saw us together it was natural for them to joke about how the great powers came together proving the viability of world peace. By the very first evening we were talking, laughing, asking questions, looking into each other's eyes and listening intently, and each second we are simultaneously getting to know the whole national culture which existed always right with each person.

Each nation was represented by both a young man and young woman ("Mister and Miss"). Interestingly, they often had similar personalities. For example, from Venezuela, both they were very free, not at all reserved. From Kenya both were very expressive and sociable. Both Americans were open. The Chinese seemed to surpass in friendliness. (Later Ke Fei We from China won the "Mister Friendship Award"). And then I asked myself? Katya, don't you realize? Each person is looking to you to see what the true Russia is. Am I truly a good representative? One of the goals of the Pageant is to solve national resentments that still exist. That's why I felt I have to give my heart to everyone, symbolically restoring mistakes of my country and the misunderstandings we have had with nations. In the beginning of the last century Russia was not very influential, but since then we became one of the top two major powers. We didn't always use that power for goodness as we should have. As the precious days of the Pageant passed by it was easy for me to realize that each person is a whole world within their selves. Each person has their own unique way of thinking and habits, and when all those different worlds came together, that is world family. While I was having these beautiful self-realizations, I could see that the other participants were also. Shin In Choi from Korea said: "It's a wonderful we can came together, people from different parts of the world, and we feel that we are brothers and sisters, because we realize that we have one parent-our Heavenly Father as our True Parent. As a small group, 32 people representing 16 diverse nations, we could each know that peace and harmony is indeed possible on the world level, and it will be very joyful."

Soon we were competing again. This time each of us gave a two minute speech. We expressed sincerely whatever we thought was interesting, what we were thinking about, but what was actually happened was serendipitous and beyond my expectation. For example, Miss Hungary- Marianna Pavel-told us about the car accident which nearly claimed her l only a month previous. Because of that, she said, she could understand the value and meaning of life. We all started to re-think why we are here. We were competing. It was true. And yet much more than our individual desires to present ourselves before the audiences, and before each other, was a greater desire to let the audiences, and those who sat in judgment of us, to know how great we felt in our new realizations of unity of heart. Just before the final performance, before the large audience packed into the hall, I searched backstage for Miss Hungary, Marianna, to wish her my hope for her success, but before I could express my heart she said, "You know, I feel it is a great sadness, that only one of us (women) shall win. But still it's a competition, so somebody has to gain an award, but now I feel it doesn't matter who."

I know the judges had a really hard time because everybody was very talented and each had a beauty which emanated their beings from inside out. Judges said that this 1996 pageant was indicative of the trend that the pageants, year after year, has been the that artistic quality is becoming more and more "high level". One very impressive performance was given by Mister Kenya. He performs Christian rap songs with a Christian message. In represent, words are important. His music has a good influence on young people, and he makes his rap songs into population "hits" with young people so they can also contemplate the words which carry deep moral for making our lives better.

When I won, my first words were: "But, really everybody was so great!" I shared with some of the participants and they agreed that all the awards should be given to our Japanese brothers and sisters who made it all happen. We were especially grateful to our coordinator, "Sam" (Mr. Ippei Somma). The Japanese staff labored in a very intense schedule, almost without sleep, yet they always had a bright, enthusiastic attitude, and effusive sense of humor. Once it was very late and I was sewing a button on my costume. I though I was the only one awake. I went to the staff room and was surprised to find the whole staff still up and working. They were looking to sense our situations and supported each person through their personal difficulties. They helped us to feel that we are friends and one family. They showed to us the beautiful qualities of Japanese people: hospitality, diligence and warmth of heart.

I became very good friends with Atsushi Yamada. He took us sight- seeing around Tokyo. He had come to my city, St. Petersburg, in 1994, when he participated in the International Student Leadership Conference for World Peace. He said, "this pageant has been a breakthrough for world peace and the culturally understanding, just

like the St. Petersburg conference was. Then we could meet students from North Korea for the firs time." Thanks to Atsushi I could see not only the external views that a tourist enjoys, but also I could understand their national character.

I was really inspired by their sincere desire to try to fulfill God's ideal of One World Family as if we all had one set of Parents. 

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