KCHS graduate enjoys her Olympic moment
KENNEDYVILLE — Most of us have been there, metaphorically speaking. Our heart beating a little faster, a lump forming in our throat and our eyes tearing up as the American flag is raised during the Olympic medal ceremonies. Jiordan Carter was there. Really. The 20-year-old Kennedyville woman spent two weeks at the Paralympic Winter Games last month in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She witnessed history when Team USA won an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal in men’s sled hockey with its thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over Canada. In what she described as incredibly good fortune, Carter, studying abroad in the George Mason University Korea program, was assigned to “access control” (i.e. checking credentials) at the hockey rink on the night of the gold medal game. She saw the United States score the tying goal with only 37 seconds remaining in regulation and watched the medal ceremony from the second level of the Gangneung Hockey Centre. She was back at her assigned post near the Americans’ locker room as they came off the ice, giving her an up-close-and-personal look at the newly crowned Olympic champions. And yes, Carter said, she felt enormous pride in being an American, especially when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played during the medal ceremony. A 2015 graduate of Kent County High School, where she was a triple-threat athlete and member of the National Honor Society, Carter is a junior with a 3.3 grade point average at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She is enrolled in a five-year program that will allow her to earn a bachelor’s degree in sports management and a master’s degree in international sports management. She spent the fall semester in London earning 12 credits while an intern for the United Kingdom’s largest social sports and fitness program for adults, Go Mammoth. The first week of February, she headed to South Korea, where George Mason has a campus. She returned to the United States at the end of March and was home last weekend to spend Easter with her mother Jana Carter. Jiordan Carter is back in Fairfax, where she is sitting in on a college class on governance and policy of sports, living off-campus and looking for a job that will carry her through the summer. “It’s always nice to come back home ... for like a week,” she said during an interview Friday at her home. “But I want to travel, I want to work abroad, especially after the London experience.” Carter described her time in London as “life altering.” She’d been to California and on a cruise to the Carib- bean islands, but this was the first time she had traveled without family. Now she was a grown-up and on her own, exploring the city of London, navigating public transportation and working full time. She acknowledged being homesick and challenged by the “independence of daily life.” But those feelings faded soon enough. She embraced her newfound freedom, venturing out to Oxford, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. Carter learned about the South Korea opportunity in October while she was in London and, her appetite for travel now whetted, was eager to sign on. George Mason has its own campus near Seoul. All classes are taught in English by George Mason faculty. Carter took a field trip to the Olympics in mid-February, where she watched Norway defeat Slovenia in men’s ice hockey. She returned to Pyeongchang in March, spending two weeks as a volunteer at the Paralympic Winter
Games. Volunteers — including sports management and tourism majors attending George Mason University Korea — were housed in a rented-out mountain resort. That’s because it was about a two-hour drive from the Mason campus to the Winter Games venues. Volunteers were dressed alike: North Face ski pants, parka and book bag — all with the Pyeongchang emblem. Carter modeled her parka during Friday’s interview and showed off the book bag and the international pins she had collected. Carter acknowledged feeling “awkward” for the first week in South Korea — she stood out as an American and a woman of color, she said — but after that “I was fine. I wasn’t uncomfortable.” The three semesters of Korean she had taken as a college freshman and sophomore gave her more than a tourist’s knowledge of the language. She was enamored by the “high-tech” culture and efficiency of mass transportation, but underwhelmed by the cuisine. Carter’s final day as a student in Korea was March 25, and the time passed quickly — maybe too quickly. “I liked Korea. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I needed to get back ... to get more involved in school activities,” she said. It’s cliché, but Carter’s eyes have been opened to the vast world beyond the mid-Atlantic region. She wants to return to Korea. South America and South Africa also are on her list of must-sees. Has Kent County seen the last of Jiordan Carter? “I’ll come back every now and then,” she promised.
Jiordan Carter, a 2015 Kent County High School graduate, models the official Paralympic Winter Games parka she wore as a volunteer last month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.