For centuries, Nha Trang was nothing more than a home for Vietnam’s exotic wildlife. Tigers roamed the area freely, as small villages came and went as the years passed. But as the world modernized and the small Pacific Asian nation looked to draw attention to its pristine beaches and transcending culture, Nha Trang was transformed into a tourism hot spot. Hot enough that the entire world took notice on July 14 when the city hosted the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant.
Contestants from 80 countries and territories competed to capture this year’s title, as the locale of Nha Trang served as a historic first for the pageant, in that it was the first time it had ever been held in a contemporary Communist state. But that’s the symbolic power and essence of the Miss Universe Pageant—it brings these women, their countries and their countrymen together. It’s the antithesis of divisiveness, instead combining beauty and dedication with education and cultural preservation.
Hosted by television icon and host of America’s Got Talent Jerry Springer and Melanie “Scary Spice” Brown, of Spice Girls fame and host of TLC’s The Singing Office, the 57th Miss Universe Pageant was a celebration of nationality and a collection of global patriotism. In addition to an esteemed panel of celebrity and professionally notable judges, the pageant featured a performance by pop sensation Lady GaGa, who energized the crowd with her hit single, “Just Dance.”