Date of birth: June 6, 1968.
Place of birth: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Came to Columbus in: 2001.
Title: Project supervisor at Stratosphere Quality, a Fishers-based logistics services company that primarily targets the automotive industry.
Education: Bachelor’s in business management from the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.
Family: Wife, Kelley; eight children ranging in age from 6 to 20.
Hobbies: Spending time with family. Weekends involve lots of traveling for the children’s sports activities, primarily soccer, but also football games at Purdue University. I’m also an XBox FIFA junkie and used to be ranked in the top 50 players in the world. I spend time in my “man cave,” the basement, which has a 135-inch screen on which I play XBox.
What was your first job?
I worked in my parents’ grocery store when I was young, but at age 23, I worked as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital. We frequently had to conduct psych evaluations for court cases, including people who had committed grievous crimes, to see if they were fit to stand trial.
What were the primary lessons you learned from that job?
Teamwork was critical, and it taught me street smarts, being able to analyze people and situations.
When did you first come to the U.S. and what were your first impressions?
I went to New York City on vacation in 2001. A friend picked me up in a car. I was really excited to come to the U.S. because you hear so much about it growing up. I was on cloud nine. It was after 7 p.m., and it was still bright out. That was amazing to me. And of course all the sights you see, the Statue of Liberty, the wide streets, the Holland Tunnel, Central Park, were great.
How did you end up in Columbus?
While I was in New York, my brother, Quincy, was in Columbus for summer break, staying with his girlfriend. They invited me to visit them. I took a bus from New York City, and it took me more than 24 hours. It was one of the craziest, unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had. It was terrible. Because of the air conditioning, the temperature in the bus felt like minus 10, and I put on a second pair of jeans and two shirts and still couldn’t stay warm.
What were your impressions when you came to Indiana?
People were much friendlier. In my friend’s building in Brooklyn, the neighbors wouldn’t even say hello if you greeted them first. But as soon as I arrived in Indianapolis, things were different. I was very hungry, and I ran into friends of my brother’s at the bus station, and they gave me a ride to Columbus and $10 for breakfast. They were Caucasians, too, so that left a really good impression of Indiana. Over the next few days my brother showed me around Columbus and took me to Brown County, and I just fell in love with this place. It’s a beautiful and safe place to raise a family.
What’s it like living in Columbus as an international?
Most of the reactions have been positive. People tell me about every day that they like my accent. It’s a pleasant thing to hear that. In New York City, everybody has an accent, so nobody cares.
How did you adjust to living in Columbus?
We had a lot of help because Columbus already had a sizable community from Trinidad and Tobago. Families helped us and invited us for food or to hang out. It made us feel welcome.
How do you stay in touch with family back home?
I talk to my parents about every other day. And the Trinidad and Tobago community here is very tight, so we always share things we hear from back home, whether it’s news or music.
How can newcomers best integrate themselves into the Columbus community?
Plugging yourself into the existing cultural groups really helps. People who have experienced the same things as current newcomers can provide guidance on everything from where to buy food to which government agency to contact.
How have you adjusted
My wife is an American, so we combine the cultures. My wife generally cooks American foods, and I tend to cook Caribbean, usually rice as the base, and some kind of meat. Lots of the American holidays have added value to my life, especially Thanksgiving, a holiday that centers around food and family. On vacations we often go to Trinidad and Tobago. Last summer we went with nine people and 27 suitcases.
Global Columbus is a twice monthly Q&A with members of Columbus’ international workforce. If you know someone we should talk to, contact Boris Ladwig at 379-5712 or email@example.com.