Eddie Han ′09
Hometown: Germantown, TN
Awesome: Former US Olympic swim team coach Don Gambril has been Eddie’s lifetime mentor.
How did your internship at the Beijing Olympics come about?
Don Gambril called me on my birthday last year and suggested that I apply. It also helped that I was the team translator for the 2006 FINA World Swimming Championships in Shanghai, where I videotaped all three days of the meet and gave each participant a DVD. I heard from one of them recently who told me he still watches it.
So this is not your first trip to China?
No, it’s my ninth. Most of my parents’ family lives in Shanghai so we visit when we can. The first time we went I was eight years old, and I hated it. There were no McDonald’s or KFC’s, and the Chinese food there isn’t like the Chinese food here. The next time we went, though, there was American food everywhere. I’ve loved it ever since. Shanghai is fascinating and beautiful. There seems to be a new skyscraper built every day.
How did your parents decide to come to this country?
Don recruited my dad to coach with him at the University of Alabama. After that he came here to Memphis to be the head coach at the Jewish Community Center. Now he works for the city of Memphis as aquatic manager.
So swimming is in your blood?
Absolutely. In 1972 my dad was ranked number one in the nation in the 100m back. He was definitely headed for the Olympics, but China boycotted them that year. My mom ran track and field and trained at the same base, so I got athletics from her as well. I was on a swim team when I was three, and by the time I was 14 I was nationally ranked.
How did you decide to come to Rhodes?
I was really more interested in Alabama and UC Davis until the swim coach invited me to Rhodes. The program was new then, and he said he needed someone to carry it. That was very appealing to me. Besides, the Princeton Review convinced me that Rhodes is one of the best colleges in the nation.
So has swimming dominated your time here?
Not really. It’s been important, but academics is the center of everything here. My first year I struggled a little bit with the transition from high school but then I learned to plan ahead and stay ahead.
How did you decide to major in biology?
Part of it was a trip to Namibia with Professor Cappellato which was awesome and a wonderful experience. We went skydiving and got to see wildlife in the wild. I’m still close to the others who went on the trip. And before leaving from Beijing, China, I had a wonderful experience traveling to Honduras to study Coral Reef Ecology with Professor Kesler.
What did you do at the Olympics?
I worked in the USA House and Business Center and the Beijing Normal University, which means I got to assist some of the top officials. The House served as a hospitality area for all the athletes and sponsors. And the BNU served as a training facility at for all of the US Olympians.
What amazing experiences can you share from your time at the Olympics?
Two days before the opening ceremony, I attended the flag-raising ceremony. It was such an honor to know that I, along with other United States Olympic Committee members, was chosen to represent our country. Also, I met several amazing past Olympians. 9-time Gold Medalist, Carl Lewis, and figure-skater Michelle Kwan were the most down-to-earth and friendly. The 2008 Olympics itself was the most memorable experience I’ve ever had, and I’m so grateful for all of the people that I’ve met.