by Christine Maxwell, Guest Contributor
Jordan Talbot is a military spouse, mom, former competitive snowboarder and devoted Winter Olympics fan. Instead of being only a fan and spectator of the 2018 Olympic Games, Jordan took full advantage of her accompanied assignment to USAG Yongsan, South Korea, with a once in a lifetime opportunity to work as an Winter Olympics volunteer at Pyeongchang.
After the Closing Ceremony, I had the chance to catch up with Jordan. She dished out how she got this gig, who she met, and how you can get involved in the next Olympic Games!
How did you find out about this volunteer opportunity with the Olympics?
Basically, as soon as I found out that we were headed to South Korea, I was on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s website to see how I could work or volunteer at the Olympics. I used to be a competitive snowboarder and coach (I still teach, when duty station allows) and I’m a big Winter Olympics fan.
Former competitive snowboarder and coach? It sounds like being a Winter Olympics volunteer was a perfect fit for you. Did you have to apply or be interviewed to be a volunteer?
There was an online application followed by a phone interview, very EARLY on a Saturday morning because of the time difference. There was also a background too.
Oh no, the background check is the bane of our military spouse existence…so. many. addresses.
Yes, luckily I had my husband’s most recent SF86 (security clearance questionnaire) for all our addresses!
You and your family are stationed at USAG Yongsan which is in Seoul, but the Olympics were in Pyeongchang. Did you have to commute every day?
I volunteered at the Team Processing Center at a hotel near Incheon Airport, outside of Seoul. It took about two hours of transit each way, using subway, airport express train and the hotel shuttle.
Wow, subways, trains, and shuttle buses, oh my! What was your schedule like?
Our shifts were about eight hours long over eight days. I only worked during the actual processing of athletes but other volunteers also assisted with set up and tear down.
I will also be volunteering for the Paralympic Team Processing in March 2018.
As an Olympic Processing Center Volunteer, what did your duties include?
I worked to get the U.S. delegation outfitted in their Polo Ralph Lauren opening and closing ceremony “looks.”
What about those lovely fringed gloves? Did you help them with their gloves?
Yes! When they came through team processing, we helped to layout everything that they needed to get dressed from the boots, to the bandanas, to those fringed gloves. Along with lots of size swaps and tailoring, we also had to get the OK from the stylists from Polo Ralph Lauren.
Then the athletes have fun trying on all the different extra items while we got them packed up and ready to go. We would wish them well and send them on their way to finish team processing which consisted of some administrative things as well as lots of great swag from Team USA sponsors.
Did you receive any cool perks as a volunteer?
We got a couple of great T-shirts but honestly the best “perk” was just getting to know so many different athletes, particularly from sports that I don’t follow.
Meeting them makes watching the Olympics much more personal.
Any memorable moments with Olympians that you will never forget? We want the scoop!
Well, I can’t name any names (Team Processing Volunteer Code) but one that stands out was an alternate athlete who was so excited to be there, even though he was not guaranteed to compete. He was a lot of fun to be around, he literally left a huge trail of smiles in his wake.
Related: I Feel Like I’m At A Theme Park With People From Around The World, One Military Spouse’s Experience at the 2018 Winter Olympics
I enjoyed seeing some coaches and athletes I knew in my previous life and it was great to be able to tell them good luck in person.
I did meet quite a few famous athletes (and ended up eating lunch with one) but really, they were all great. A few stuck their heads into the warehouse to see what we were doing and thank the volunteers. All of the athletes were gracious and fun to be around.
I hope it wasn’t all work and no play, did you get a chance to see any events? Do you have a favorite event?
I saw halfpipe snowboarding, snowboard cross and hockey. I also had tickets for parallel GS snowboarding and curling. The Snowboard Cross team was a lot of fun when they came through team processing too.
I took my three year old daughter to see the women race because I want her to see what fearless women can do and experience the Olympics!
Did you volunteer with people from other countries or were you pretty much strictly working with other Americans? Any other military spouses?
There were a few volunteers from Korea but generally most volunteers were Americans living in Korea or Americans that travel all over the world to volunteer for the Olympics. One guy was on his 5th games! I met a few people that I know I will stay friends with for a long time.
I also volunteered with a couple of other military spouses, Francis Lukeman also from Yongsan and Ed Torsney from Camp Humphreys.
Any advice to military spouses who want to be volunteers at a future Olympics?
Yes! The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has a ton of volunteer opportunities at games and locally in the United States (and they are headquartered in Colorado Springs). It was a great experience and I would do it again!
Awesome idea. MilSpouses stationed at any of the five military installations in Colorado Springs, Colo., have the unique opportunity to volunteer at the USOC.
The next Olympic Games are in Tokyo in 2020. If you have PCS orders to Japan, find out how to be a Tokyo 2020 volunteer by clicking here.
Christine Maxwell is an Army wife and toddler mom. She works as a Budget Manager in Higher Education and also manages HerMoneyMoves, a blog about personal finances, career and military family life geared toward military spouses and their families.