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Date of birth: May 18, 1957
Place of birth: San Fernando, Trinidad
Has lived in Columbus since: 1995
Occupation: Together with his wife, Ann, owns Cinlee Services, a janitorial company. Also recently completed an internship in space management at Cummins Inc.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan, master’s in business administration from IUPUC
Hobbies: Reading (biographies and fiction), helping wife around the house, head elder of Columbus Seventh-day Adventist Church, president of the Trinbago Association
Q: What was your first job?
A: I was doing janitorial work at Cummins Corporate Office Building. I told myself that it would be great to come back there someday to work with Cummins. Recently I completed an internship there, so my dream has almost come true.
Q: What’s the main lesson that job taught you?
A: I followed the advice of my father, Paul Pereira, who said that whatever the job is, just do the best you can.
Q: When did you come to the U.S.?
A: I arrived in 1994. Almost all my family already had moved to the U.S. and was living on the East Coast. When the economy in Trinidad and Tobago deteriorated, I decided to follow. My wife and I first lived in New York but quickly moved to Columbus because we knew Dawn Palmer, who was the first Trinidadian to move here. My wife grew up with Dawn and had visited Columbus before. I found the city to be very nice and quiet. It was a big cultural change, but one that I enjoyed. Columbus also was somewhat similar to Arima, the last city in which I lived in T&T. I felt right at home in Columbus.
Q: When you came to the U.S. the first time, what did you immediately notice as different?
A: I remember how late it stayed light out. In T&T, it gets dark at 6 p.m., but I came to the U.S. in summer, and there was still daylight at 9 p.m. And the first winter also was interesting, because I had only seen the mist forming from people’s breath in movies before. And I remember the trees being really barren.
Q: What major obstacles did you encounter in adjusting to business life in the U.S.?
A: Communication proved challenging. Though we speak English in T&T, it’s British English with a Caribbean slant, and we speak very fast. I often encountered puzzled looks and people thinking I was speaking Spanish. Because communication is critical, I had to train myself to slow down. The pace of life here also is much faster. In T&T, people, in business and government, take their time, while here everybody is punctual.
Q: How have you adjusted culturally?
A: We still cook some traditional foods from T&T, and we get visitors from there almost annually, and they bring us items that we cannot easily buy here. We’ve also embraced lots of local traditions. On July 4, for example, we will have a cookout with hot dogs and burgers and vegetable patties for my wife, who is vegetarian.
Q: What’s it like living as an international in Columbus?
A: I would recommend Columbus to anybody. It’s just a great place to live.
Q: What do you like best about your job?
A: Meeting people, networking.
Q: What do you like least?
A: People in janitorial service often are almost invisible. Some people look at you just as someone to take out their trash. Often there’s no interaction unless it is initiated by you.
Q: What advice do you have for internationals who are just now coming to Columbus?
A: Do your homework and find out what opportunities Columbus has to offer. Some people I talk to go to Greenwood and Indianapolis, but they don’t make the effort to go out and meet people locally. Columbus is a wonderful place, so go out and mingle.
Q: What’s your favorite city?
A: Chicago. There are so many things to see and do, and it’s very close. You can get away for a short time and still get refreshed.
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.
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