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U.S. Olympic Committee Kicks Off "Thank You, PyeongChang" Initiative With Shibutani Siblings And Jinbu Middle School Students In South Korea

By United States Olympic Committee | Aug. 21, 2017, 10:09 a.m. (ET)

Students at Jinbu Middle School pose with a video of Maia and Alex Shibutani on Aug. 21, 2017 in PyeongChang, South Korea.


On the first day of Jinbu Middle School in PyeongChang, 2014 Olympic figure skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani shared a special video message with students announcing a mentorship program with the school.

The program is part of the United States Olympic Committee’s “Thank You, PyeongChang” initiative in partnership with the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG).

In the months leading up to Games, Maia and Alex will hosts a series of virtual lessons with the students about Olympic values, health and nutrition, and what it takes to become Olympians. In turn, Jinbu Middle School students will teach Maia and Alex about South Korean culture and what to expect in PyeongChang.

“We are so excited to be mentors to students who could be the next generation of Olympians in South Korea,” Alex said. “We’re very passionate about the Olympic Movement and the Olympic values, and we believe in their power to inspire and unite younger generations throughout the world. To be able to share this passion with the students of Jinbu Middle School is a huge honor.”

In February, the program will culminate with Maia and Alex hosting an in-person event at the PyeongChang Organizing Committee’s PyeongChang House, where students will meet their mentors face-to-face for a Q&A session to hear about their Olympic experience, and what lessons from the students they put to use in South Korea. 

The students will not only have the opportunity to learn from Olympic athletes over the course of the program, but also get to share their tips about South Korean culture, including what traditional Korean foods athletes should taste, Korean words they should know and places to sightsee in order to experience PyeongChang.

The lessons Maia and Alex learn from the students of Jinbu Middle School will be incorporated into the Team USA Ambassador Program, athlete training sessions that all members of the 2018 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team will attend prior to the Games.

“To be able to learn about Korean culture and connect with the children of PyeongChang is very special,” Maia said. “We can’t wait to get to know them and share what we learn with our Team USA teammates, as well as share our experiences as Olympians and Team USA’s excitement to be in PyeongChang.”

The “Thank You, PyeongChang” initiative aims to contribute to the positive legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, and share Team USA’s support and gratitude to the people of South Korea for hosting the world this February and March.


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Alex Shibutani

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