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

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TRAVEL - By YANG FEIYUE yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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


Theodore Rib­bons is host­ing a Chi­nese cul­ture fo­rum at Ma­jet­sic Princess in late June.

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