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Chinese-speaking New Yorker contributes to China-US friendship

(People's Daily Online)    09:34, April 22, 2019

Marsh introduces information to Chinese visitors at the UN headquarters in New York, Feb. 5, 2019. Photo by Ma Jianguo from Xinhua News Agency

A young New Yorker, the only Chinese-speaking tour guide at the visitor center of the UN headquarters whose native language is not Chinese, is making a name for himself on Chinese social media.

Oliver Marsh, who calls himself Ma Shaofei in Chinese, has attracted over 20,000 followers on Zhihu, a Chinese question-and-answer website.

Growing up in the Big Apple, Marsh said he’s proud to be a New Yorker. He loves his city because it is home to people from all over the world.

Out of curiosity for other cultures and lifestyles, Marsh majored in East Asian studies at Princeton University and learned Chinese.

Photo taken on April 17, 2019, shows Marsh at the UN headquarters in New York. Photo by Li Muzi from Xinhua News Agency

He said it was fun to study Chinese and the more he learned, the more he was charmed by the language.

Last October, Marsh joined the visitor center of the UN headquarters and became an English-speaking tour guide, while what he really wanted was to introduce the UN in Chinese.

After training in January, he was finally qualified as a Chinese-speaking tour guide. Marsh was temporarily transferred to the Chinese-speaking team during the 2019 Spring Festival when the number of Chinese visitors peaked in New York.

“Every time I spoke Chinese, the visitors were shocked. It’s probably because they thought it was rare to see a foreign tour guide who could speak Chinese,” he said.

Marsh explained that he had no idea about China’s influence in the UN before his training. Now he knows the country like the back of his hand.

He came to Xi’an, a historical city in northwest China in 2017 and worked as an overseas study consultant. By visiting the historical tourist attractions there, he experienced the profound history and culture of the city.

Marsh introduces information to Chinese visitors at the UN headquarters in New York, April 17, 2019. Photo by Li Muzi from Xinhua News Agency

Now he is an online celebrity on Zhihu, and answers questions related to Chinese and American culture and society, with a focus on the contrast and comparison between the two countries, such as how the poor people in the U.S. live and what stereotypes Americans have about China.

So far he has answered about 50 questions and issued nine articles on the website since he joined a year ago — the most read article has received over 1,600 likes and 600 comments.

Marsh believes that China-US relations, as well as people-to-people bonds between the two countries, are of vital importance in the 21st century. He hopes that the Chinese can learn more about American life, and Americans can also understand more about China through his efforts.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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