Kevin on Interpretreting for Shandong businessman

November 28, 2011
Kevin Slaten interprets in Weifang, China.

I came to know the owner of a plastic bag company via a professor friend at Ocean University here. At the end of October, this owner told me that he had a client coming in from Cincinnati, Ohio in a week to check out the Chinese company's factory and talk about a product issues. Although the owner could speak some English, he has not yet reached the level he needs for smooth business communication and was hoping that I could serve as their interpreter. I accepted and ended up spending about nine hours with the group as we traveled from Qingdao to the factory in Weifang. I've interpreted before in Ohio for some Chinese entrepreneurs that came to see businesses in Ohio, but never before had I been the sole translator in in-depth business negotiations. I interpreted a variety of conversations during this nine-hour affair, including discussions about product quality, machinery, manufacture processes, transportation, business practices, food (during our two meals), and cultural differences. All-in-all, it went smoothly. Both the Ohio client as well as the Chinese side, including the owner and his factory boss, expressed that my interpretation was quite effective and said that without me, they think that many of their conversations would have been impossible. Not only did I feel that I proved to myself that I could be an effective translator for a real business negotiation, I also truly helped them expand their business, as there were at least three new business opportunities that the Chinese and American discussed during our day.