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Q&A Michelle Kwan

The most decorated figure skater in U.S. history was recently appointed the first American Public Diplomacy Envoy

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 goodbye, 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.

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: You're taking classes at the University of Denver. What are you majoring in?

Kwan: Political science with a minor in international studies.

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.

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