Former first prefect makes television debut on ‘Amazing Race: China Rush’

Noa Yadidi

Alumnus Charlie Melvoin ’05 is competing on the Emmy-winning reality show “The Amazing Race,” which began airing on Aug. 26 in China. The season was filmed throughout April of this year.

Teams with pre-existing relationships compete to win a grand prize of a trip around the world worth $60,000 in the “The Amazing Race: China Rush.”

These teams compete in different challenges throughout the race to earn clues that take them to their next destination.

Melvoin raced with his freshman year roommate from Harvard University, Ryan Burke. Melvoin said they were dubbed “the Harvard boys” by their fellow competitors.

Melvoin moved to China in August 2011, after completing a one-year Masters’ Degree in development studies at Cambridge University.

Burke, who was already living in Shanghai, jokingly sent Melvoin an email saying they would make a great team. Melvoin chanced upon the email a day before “China Rush” applications were due.They submitted a written application that discussed their friendship, how well they knew each other and their fears.

After three rounds of auditions and interviews, “the Harvard boys” made the cut along with 10 other teams.

“I was excited to experience firsthand what it’s like to compete under those kinds of conditions,” Melvoin said. “The experience did not disappoint, exceeding my expectations with the way that it designed both fun and challenging tasks that caused the true colors of each team to shine through.”

Melvoin traces his interest in Chinese language and culture back to a trip he took as an eighth grader at Harvard-Westlake, chaperoned by Chinese teacher Qinru Zhou.

He studied Chinese for four years during high school, the maximum offered at the time.

“The best part was getting the opportunity to see parts of China that I’d never otherwise have the chance to experience,” Melvoin said. “The show relies on the local cultures as much as the various challenges, and so for a big China nerd like me, the chance to visit obscure parts of the country and partake in bizarre activities while utilizing my many years of Mandarin was a real thrill.”