MIIS at the Olympics: Front Seat to Sports History and High Drama
“At first I had no idea what was going on,” says Charmy Park (MACI ’12) of her experience watching two of the most controversial matches in badminton history, which resulted in four world-class teams from South Korea, China and Indonesia being expelled from the games for purposely losing their matches. Charmy was one of five students chosen to represent MIIS as volunteer interpreters at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
She had been given the task of interpreting for South Korean badminton players and the Olympic Broadcasting Services at short interviews after the matches that resulted in the teams’ expulsion. Needless to say the interviews did not happen, though Charmy had a front seat to badminton history: “The more I watched, the stranger it seemed that the world’s top-ranked players would play like this, and soon the arena was filled with booing and angry comments.” The moment was challenging for everyone. “The crowd missed out on the chance to watch the best players compete and the athletes lost their golden opportunity,” says Charmy who got to speak briefly with the South Korean coach afterwards. The players were apparently trying to secure easier matches in the quarter-finals through their actions.
Overall, the London Olympics were an amazing opportunity for Charmy and her fellow MIIS students, including Lauren Ames (MATI ’13) and Max Falaleyev (MACI ’13). All reported having a “royal” moment—Charmy was only steps away from Princess Anne, Lauren exchanged “hellos” with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and Max was only a few feet away from at least seven heads of state and passed First Lady Michelle Obama in the hall. All agree that they learned a lot from interpreting in such a high-pressure environment and from working with experienced peers.
As always, the Monterey Institute was well represented at the London Olympics with close to 15 professors and alumni—including the former dean of the Translation and Interpretation program—working as official interpreters. The official interpreters covered the medal rounds only, going with the bronze, silver and gold winners to the press tent for press conferences.