Russian around

If a Russian athlete has a special diet and can't get the right food in the Olympic Village, it's Maria Lunk's job to find the fare. As the envoy to the Russian national team, Lunk, a senior lecturer in Emory's Russian studies program, will be working as a volunteer with the team's chef de mission, the person appointed by the U.S. Olympic Committee to be responsible for the team while they are in the Olympic Village. "I'm the liaison between the Russian team and ACOG," Lunk says. "Basically, [the associate envoys and I] are the support team and the troubleshooters."

What kind of trouble will they shoot? "Everything," Lunk says. "It will run the gamut from lost luggage to lost athletes. We'll be scheduling drivers and making sure athletes are on the right bus on their way to an event." As the team's envoy, Lunk reports to ACOG, and the team's nine associate envoys report to her.

Lunk began training for her duties in July 1994. "It's an enormous commitment," she says. "We started off with the history of the Olympic movement and the managerial structure of ACOG, and now we're down to how many bars of soap and pieces of furniture are in a room in the Olympic Village." For six weeks, beginning July 1, her job will become full-time. "I'll be there from the minute the chef de mission arrives until the last athlete leaves and the village closes."

Lunk's background in Russian language and culture--her Ph.D. degree is in Russian folklore--tailor-made her for the job. When ACOG began recruiting envoys and associate envoys for the teams from Russia and the former Soviet republics, they turned to Emory's Soviet, Post-Soviet, and East European Studies program. Oksana Foltyn, part-time Emory instructor in Russian studies, is the envoy for the team from the Ukraine, and Associate Professor of Russian Studies Alan Cienki is an associate envoy for the Russian team.

"It's very hard to imagine what those weeks are going to be like," Lunk says with a laugh. "Reality isn't going to hit until the Georgia Tech campus is transformed into the Olympic Village and all of a sudden we have hundreds of Russians on our hands."

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