Shernelle Callender: A Barbadian Life in America

September 19, 2020

Shernelle Callender is a spirited young woman from the island of Barbados. In what she describes as a stroke of God’s will and a leap of faith, she moved with her husband to New York City, adapting to the city to make a life for herself in the United States.

Shernelle, living in Barbados, had maintained a trans-international relationship with Cameron, who lived in New York City. Although they had met in Barbados many years ago, they had been living apart for more than four years, knowing that ultimately, one of them would have to relocate. Though the uncertainty of their future always loomed large in their relationship, things seemed to be falling into place when Cameron returned to Barbados after losing his job. Cameron moving to Barbados had always been the most logical solution thus far; almost all of his family and friends lived on the island and finding a job wouldn’t be all that difficult. 

But on a balmy summer day, Cameron received a phone call asking him to return to work in New York. Shernelle recalls the bittersweet turn of events, saying that she had felt sad and anxious about the fact that they would be living apart once more. Nonetheless, Shernelle supported Cameron’s opportunity as one not to be lost. Not long after, the unexpected occurred as Shernelle was let go from her own job. Within a span of just a few days, Shernelle’s life had been shuffled around, revealing a different, yet undeniable new route for her to take. As a result, Shernelle decided to move to New York with her husband, leaving her life in Barbados behind. 

“We always said, ‘God saw,’” says Shernelle. “There we were, struggling about who was gonna do what and where we were gonna be, if we were gonna continue this or not, and then it happened.”

Coming from an island less than a fifth of the size of Rhode Island, New York City was undoubtedly a significant change of scenery for Shernelle. She notes that it took some time for her to get accustomed to living in a tight apartment, and that it was strange at first using an elevator every day. 

Living in the United States completely put a hold on Shernelle’s career as well. In Barbados, she had been a petroleum gas distribution manager for the entire island of Barbados and had been working up to the director position before being let go. After coming to New York, she was spending most of her time at home, reliant on Cameron to support them both financially. 

Nonetheless, she continued to do everything she could to integrate and prepare herself to enter the professional community in the new country, finishing an online degree in Business Management from the University of Edinburgh while at home.

Initially, Shernelle struggled to find a job in the city. To almost every job interview she went to, the interviewers would question her lack of working experience in New York, and ultimately deny her the position. She felt discouraged, beginning to believe that finding work in New York was part of an impossible cycle that she would never break into. During one of the last interviews that Shernelle had been called to, her “New York experience” was brought up again. 

“I challenged the interviewer,” says Shernelle. “I thought experience was experience, and I’ve been in business all my life.”

She was ultimately able to secure a job as an office assistant in a law firm, and since then, working experience in New York has become her life. Now, after having spent more than five years living in the flagship city of America, she’s grown adjusted to the lightning-fast pace of the city. Recognizing the dichotomy of life on a Caribbean island as opposed to living in the city, Shernelle has grown keen to the millions of opportunities that are present in New York. At the same time, she notes that she is deeply rooted in her Caribbean origins, and embraces the idea that her Barbadian identity has something to add to the thriving multicultural metropolis.

“[Living in New York] forced me to be more alert, more observant, and as they say, develop the New York State of Mind,” she says. “But I have maintained my Barbadian way of life… I know when to slow down… and take time out for me to savor the moments!”

Disclaimer :  Result may vary depending on each client’s particular facts and legal circumstances