Alumnus vies for Olympic torch honor

    Celebrities, athletes, a laser beam, a camel and the Concorde — all of these have carried the Olympic torch from it’s starting point in Athens, Greece to the Olympic site. Matt Scranton ’06 applied to join their ranks.

    p. Scranton has served in the Peace Corps in Chongqing, China for the last six months. After graduating with a B.A. in history and a minor in geology, he went to China in July 2006 to teach as part of the English faculty at Chongqing Jiaotong University. “I mainly teach spoken English to freshman English majors, but have also taught tourism English,” he said.

    p. Scranton saw advertisements for the Olympic torch relay on the internet. “It was publicized pretty heavily around many Chinese internet sites and blogs I read,” he said. “China Daily, China’s only daily English newspaper, sponsored the contest and I also read about it on there.”

    p. Eight expatriates were chosen to carry the Olympic torch on its way through China. The torch is traditionally lit in Greece, where the Olympics originated. From there it is carried to wherever the Olympics are held. The Summer Olympics will feature the longest torch-relay ever. With the theme “Journey of Harmony,” the torch will travel 85,100 miles from Olympia, Greece to Beijing, China.

    p. Scranton felt he stood out from other competitors. “Many of the other foreigners who were competing for the prize were here in China doing business and I felt I had something special to add as I am here as a volunteer serving and doing my best to increase the English capacity of the students at my university,” he said.

    p. Political elements played into his application as well. “I also think that there are many misunderstandings between China and the U.S.,” Scranton said. “I thought it a good thing for someone to carry the torch in the name of good relations between our two countries, so I decided to apply.”

    p. From over 400 applicants, Scranton was selected as one of the 100 finalists. From there he publicized his efforts and tried to get more support. “A big factor in the decision was the amount of votes you received in the competition,” Scranton said.

    p. Friends and family were key in the process of getting votes. The Times Chronicle, a newspaper in Philadelphia, wrote a feature story on Scranton’s efforts. Scranton printed flyers, which he handed out at CJU and even created a Facebook group.

    p. Though Scranton was not among the eight chosen torchbearers, he is happy he applied. “In the big scheme of things, I’m not disappointed, and am actually thankful for the occasion as it has brought me back into contact with many old friends who have sent me messages of support,” he said.

    p. “What’s that people say? ‘The joy is in the journey, not the result,’ right? That’s how this feels. I was very happy with the effort and have no regrets about not being able to carry the torch.”


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