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Living and working on the water

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-08 07:34
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Theodore Ribbons is hosting a Chinese culture forum at Majetsic Princess in late June.[Photo by Yang Feiyue/China Daily]

A US entertainer shares what life is like as an employee on a cruise ship

The moment Theodore Ribbons opens his mouth he surprises and endears himself to the Chinese. The American from Detroit speaks fluent Chinese and can even do accents from northeastern China.

"China has always been mysterious and interesting to me, with its history," he says.

That's why he decided to study Chinese when he was at Penn State University where he majored in theater and world history.

Speaking Chinese has brought him many perks and opportunities.

"They (Chinese people) feel honored that I speak their language, so they treat me with respect," he says.

We met on the maiden voyage of the cruise ship Majestic Princess where he was doing entertainment shows in the second half of June.

The ship set sail from Rome on May 21, across key Maritime Silk Road nations, including Greece, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, and arrived in Xiamen on June 26.

On board were 7,000 tourists from more than 40 countries and regions, and some of the programs on board featured Chinese tea, calligraphy, sculpture and painting.

Ribbons' role on the ship also included helping passengers better understand Chinese culture and history with his language skills.

The programs were organized by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

"I think for a lot of guests on board, they were on the trip in part for the cultural diversity along the route," he says.

"The programs featuring painting, calligraphy and tea showed guests how Chinese culture has evolved."

He believes that the shows would help passengers see things differently when they arrived in China.

At a Chinese tea culture program, Ribbons was an interpreter who made everything easily understood by non-Chinese speakers.

"I knew what they (the presenters) were saying and I knew how to portray what they wanted to say and their thought processes, and then express the things in English, "

His humor make the lectures fun and enjoyable.

Speaking about his linguistic gift, Ribbons says it is a result of hard work, motivated by his passion for Chinese culture and history.

"For me, history really touches a chord".

To deepen his knowledge about China, he moved to Beijing after graduating in 2010, and signed up for education programs in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts.

Besides, he also spent time doing small roles in Chinese TV series and movies and gave stage performances in various theaters, such as the Trojan House in Beijing during the next four years.

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