Pitzer Spotlights

2007-2008 Spotlight Archives

Yuki Lin ’08: A Bridge Between Nations

Yuki Lin ’08
Yuki Lin ’08 (photo courtesy of NBA/Getty Images)

When world-class athletes, foreign leaders or business officials convene, it is often the translator who has the most difficult task. Needing to think quickly and logically, a translator serves as the bridge between nations. Only months after graduating from Pitzer College, Yuki Lin ’08 is travelling throughout China to translate for Olympic athletes and former NBA players and coaches, and in September he will head to Japan to work as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR).

A true polyglot—he speaks English, Japanese and Chinese fluently—Lin has been selected for this prestigious position with the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) program. As a CIR his duties will include translating and interpreting for government officials.

“I’m a bit nervous to be working with such powerful people,” Lin said. “But I am definitely up for the challenge.”

Lin began his career as a translator in middle school when his community service-based basketball team called Shinzen (which means “goodwill” in Japanese) traveled to Kobe, Japan, after the devastating earthquake in 1995. The program was started to help foster relationships with players and their families, who had either lost their homes or loved ones during the catastrophe.

“I was the only member of the team who spoke Japanese,” Lin said. “That experience was a key moment for me because it was my first real exposure to international relations and bringing people together.”

Yuki Lin ’08 and three-time NBA all-star Glen Rice lead drills at one of the NBA’s promotional camps in China.
Yuki Lin ’08 and three-time NBA all-star Glen Rice lead drills at one of the NBA’s promotional camps in China. (photo courtesy of NBA/Getty Images)

More recently, Lin accepted a position with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to travel throughout China promoting the sport. This summer, he will act as translator for former NBA players and coaches at a number of promotional camps in various cities, in addition to coaching the young players himself. He will also travel to Shanghai to help escort and interpret for the USA Men’s Olympic basketball team during their preliminary games.

“Experiences like my job this summer are diplomacy at a grassroots level,” Lin said. “Since my trip to Kobe, I haven’t been able to do much translating. I have really missed it.”

An economics major with a minor in Chinese, Lin’s original goal was to attend business school after graduating. Having spent all his college summers studying Mandarin intensively at universities in Taipei and Beijing, Lin has changed his future plans. Now, he aspires to a career in international relations.

“My father’s advice served as the real turning point,” Lin said. “He told me that my area of greatest strength was in talking to people. I have taken his advice to heart, and decided that my dream is to become an ambassador either to Japan or China—the two countries that comprise my heritage.”

—Liz Hedrick ’09