Q&A: Michelle Kwan
Posted: Thursday February 22, 2007 3:04PM; Updated: Thursday February 22, 2007 3:04PM
Last week SI writer Richard Deitsch interviewed Michelle Kwan for the magazine's Q&A. The most decorated figure skater in U.S. history was recently appointed the first American Public Diplomacy Envoy. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation:
SI: Your job as an envoy came about after you talked to Condoleezza Rice at a White House state luncheon for Chinese President Hu Jintao last April. What happened?
Kwan: As we said our goodbyes, I mentioned to Secretary Rice that she should get in touch with me if the State Department ever needed my assistance. She told me to e-mail her. Then I was like, How do I e-mail the Secretary of State?
SI: So did you e-mail her?
Kwan: Other people eventually got us together.
SI: Do you consider yourself a political person?
SI: What does your unpaid position entail?
Kwan: On my trip to Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong in January, I spoke to students and young people about my personal experience. Hopefully, what I talked about -- working hard, dedication, family values -- they can apply to their lives.
SI: Are you a Democrat or a Republican?
Kwan: I'm an athlete (laughs). That's a good one to use when someone asks you that question: I just skate.
SI: Could you do this job without sharing the views of the Administration?
Kwan: That's why this position is so great: It's not my personal or political views. It's just about my experiences. That's what I'm going to talk about. Questions about what's going on in Iraq or U.S.-China relations -- you know what? I have no right to comment on that.
SI: Tell me someone who you consider a political role model?
Kwan: I'm going to give you an answer that's very much like a politician (laughs). When you have a role model, you don't want to become that person. Kids say they want to be Yao Ming or Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky. They don't exactly want to become that person. They want to take the good qualities because they also have to put their own spin on it. There are certain things I admire about Secretary Rice and President Bush. The whole idea is to represent the people so if you have that in mind than everything else will fall into place.
SI: Is your skating career over?
Kwan: I often get asked that. I have nothing planned right now. My priorities have changed and shifted. I feel like I have to ride this wave wherever it takes me. I haven't said I'm retired or I'm turning professional. All the fans who write to me want an answer, but I can't give them one. I just don't know what I want to do yet.
SI: You're taking classes at the University of Denver. What are you majoring in?
Kwan: Political science with a minor in international studies. International studies has been interesting. You realize the world is becoming a smaller place.
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