USOC Announces Korean Youth Mentorship Program Ahead of PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Olympians Maia and Alex Shibutani will mentor students from Jinbu Middle School in PyeongChang and learn about Korean culture.

The United States Olympic Committee today launched a Korean youth mentorship program in partnership with the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) and Jinbu Middle School as part of the USOC’s "Thank you, PyeongChang" initiative, a goodwill campaign aimed to contribute to the positive legacy of the PyeongChang Games, to say thank you to the people of South Korea for hosting the world this February and March, and to make an impact on the global community through the spirit of Olympism.

Three-time world championship medalists (2011 bronze, 2016 silver, 2017 bronze) and 2014 Olympic figure skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani will mentor students of Jinbu Middle School through virtual lessons leading up to the Games, culminating in an on-site visit with students in February. In turn, Jinbu Middle School students will teach Maia and Alex about Korean culture and what athletes and supporters can expect when the PyeongChang Games open in February. Learnings that the students share 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.

"Maia and Alex personify the spirit of the Olympic Movement and are excellent ambassadors to represent Team USA in this youth mentorship exchange with the students of Jinbu Middle School," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "We are grateful for the partnership of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee’s Education Team in facilitating this connection with the school. Team USA is thrilled to be working with and learning from a middle school that is at the heart and soul of PyeongChang."

Starting in September, Maia and Alex will host a series of monthly mentorship sessions with students via video chat.

"We are so excited to be mentors to students who could be the next generation of Olympians in 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."

To assist with the delivery of the program, the POCOG Education team will be providing support including the facilitation and coordination of the video chat sessions, proving guidance on the lesson plans, and promoting the mentor program across all relevant education channels locally.

POCOG President Mr. LEE Hee-Beom said, "The USOC’s initiative around mentorship of local students is a wonderful addition to the work we are doing with schools across the country in the lead up to the Games. This is an amazing opportunity for the pupils of Jinbu Middle School to interact, learn from and then meet Olympic athletes from the United States, and we hope that this will inspire many of them to take up winter sports and also give them a better understanding of Olympic values."

To kick off the program, the Shibutanis released a video for the students today – the first day of the 2017-18 school year – expressing their excitement to teach them about topics such as the Olympic values, health and nutrition, and what it takes to be Olympians, as well as to learn about Korean culture as they prepare to compete in the host country.

"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."

Jinbu Middle School is a historic establishment located in the heart of the Olympic action. Founded in 1952, the public middle school currently has 214 students enrolled, ranging in age from 13-15. The school upholds a history of excellence in student education, winning various accolades for its programs and administration. For over 65 years, the staff of Jinbu Middle School has provided students with the inspiration and motivation to become future leaders generation after generation.

"We are honored Jinbu Middle School was chosen for the "Thank you, PyeongChang" program, and we look forward to our students learning from Olympians Maia and Alex Shibutani as well as teaching them about Korea," said Jong-beom, Lee, Principle, Jinbu Middle School.

Maia and Alex, a brother-and-sister duo, are often referred to as the "Shib Sibs." They have medaled at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships for 13 consecutive years, at every level and every year they have competed. Most recently, they are the two-time reigning U.S. champions. They competed at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and are considered medal contenders in PyeongChang. Maia, 23, and Alex, 26, live in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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