The 2020 Olympic Games will come to a close this Sunday, Aug. 8. But for Boise State student, Brenna McNeil, in Tokyo it’s an Olympics she’ll never forget.
“It has been a crazy experience,” McNeil said.
Since the Tokyo Olympics started she has been serving as a German-English translator for the German teams at the Games.
“Whether it be in the mixed zones or if they need medical assistance and they need interpretation during that or during doping control if they need an interpreter to help throughout that process, I go wherever they need me to go,” she said.
From social media to Tokyo
An opportunity she randomly found on Facebook one day has turned into the experience of a lifetime.
“The first day I started it actually hit me that this was all happening and I think my absolute favorite part has been being one of the very few people to see this happening in person,” McNeil said. “Also being an interpreter I get to work with the athletes one on one which has been so awesome and so I get to stand right there next to them when they are going through their interviews and it has just been really amazing.”
She grew up in Germany and started speaking both German and English from a young age.
“It has been really nice being able to use that at the Olympics and being able to talk to others in German has been really fun,” McNeil said. “And at the moment I am studying German secondary education at Boise State University so it has been really cool to use that at the Olympics as well.”
But, since her family is part of the military they’ve had to move, and have called Japan home for the past 11 years. Each day McNeil puts on her volunteer uniform, takes an hour and a half train ride to Tokyo from her family’s home in Kamakura, and starts her work.
“It is cool to think that this is happening pretty much in my backyard,” she said.
Summer to remember
McNeil is gearing up to head back to Boise for the new school year, but from meeting Lester Holt to working with the athletes, this summer is one she’ll never forget.
“One of the German women’s team, Laura Ludwig and Margareta Kozuch, they were just knocked out a couple of days ago and after their interviews, I went up to them. As volunteers every time we check-in for our rotation, we get pins, so I had two of the same pins and they were gold pins,” McNeil said. “I went up to them and handed them the pins and was like in my heart you’ve already won gold, so that was a really sweet moment. They were so nice and they said ‘Thank you so much for your support and everything,’ so I was really happy about that.”
She hopes to apply for the 2024 Paris Olympics and encourages anyone else that is interested to do the same. You do not have to live in the country where the Olympics are taking place to be a volunteer.
For now, McNeil is looking forward to continuing her studies at Boise State, serving as a community assistant for the Living Learning Program on campus, and continuing her role as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for her sorority Alpha Omicron Pi.