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Miss USA Cheslie Kryst says her title forces her 'to be more open-minded' in a divided political climate

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Catriona Gray is getting ready to crown a new Miss Universe 2020 at the upcoming competition this Sunday. But before her reign comes to an end, the former Miss Philippines is sharing her biggest takeaway from the role.

“I’m constantly opening up my ears and my mind to what other people believe,” Gray tells Yahoo Lifestyle on the BUILD Series stage. “Although I might not necessarily agree personally, I always feel that it’s important to understand where people are coming from because if there’s not an ongoing dialogue, no matter what country you come from when are we ever going to progress?”

The lesson is one that she learned through her international travels as Miss Universe and a piece of advice she offered to this year’s Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst, who will be vying for the Miss Universe title on Sunday. Kryst, who earned the coveted title of Miss USA on May 2, says she experienced a similar transformation.

“It forces you to be more open-minded and really genuinely consider somebody’s feelings and experiences,” Kryst, who is roommates with Gray, says of her title. “You do have to make sure that you’re understanding the perspectives of others. Which I think is a great learning experience for me because I don’t think that’s something that everybody always considers.”

Gray added that the nature of how news is both written and consumed is likely a part of the problem because it enables a culture where people jump to conclusions without doing much research.

“We’re so quick to draw an opinion,” Gray explains. “Being in a position where I’m constantly asking questions and constantly trying to understand, I feel like if I could impart and inspire other people to approach issues in that way, I think we’d create a better culture of understanding and comprehension and being able to understand each other better, no matter what country you come from.”

The two women also explain that the desire to connect to and understand so many different people and perspectives stems from the culture of pageants where they’ve learned to be “multifaceted.”

“Through the pageant, we’re showing that yes, you can have a degree and you can feel confident on stage and you can be a great speaker, and you can be all these things,” Gray says. “You can be multi-faceted and you could have so much dimension to you as one person. And I think that’s amazing and so, so inspiring for people to look up to.”

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