Colombia Meets Minnesota: Growing up on ‘Both Sides of the Road’
Walser’s John Hunt is accustomed to working with people from all walks of life. As a Finance Specialist, Hunt spends his time finding the right lender for the right person, no matter the credit challenges a customer might face. It’s a job that takes a head for numbers, some finesse with the unknown, and understanding for people. That’s a perspective Hunt is familiar with.
Hunt was adopted as a baby from Colombia to a white family in Minnesota in the 1990s. Hunt has spent a lifetime considering different perspectives, especially between cultures.
“Growing up, my parents would always bring me out to adopted events where there were a ton of adopted kids, and there we’d all hang out. It was multicultural. They would also try to bring part of my community and pieces of my heritage in. It’s a unique experience,” Hunt said.
Hunt jokes that he thought he was German as a teen because of his mom’s deep embrace of her heritage.
“I was about it, too, and would wear lederhosen and go to German festivals. I had no idea. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I am different, but that’s what has made me want to use my position of kind of growing up on both sides of the road to bring people together,” he said.
That duality of race and identity is something Hunt knows well—sometimes feeling too Hispanic in some places and not Hispanic enough in others. Still, he views it as a positive.
“I’m still kind of caught between that not speaking Spanish but being too Hispanic-looking. So, I’m in that weird zone, but I actually like that. For example, Cesar Chavez Avenue in St. Paul is its own little city. Almost like its own little culture. I’ll go down there with my friend to get food. It just feels so entwined down here. It’s great to see that acceptance and for it to be a part of the bigger city,” he said.
Hunt said connecting with that culture took time, especially as a kid.
“When it [came] to my parents bringing in those pieces of Colombian culture, I didn’t at first connect with it. It felt so over the top and my dad was like, ‘Well, that’s your culture.’ And I didn’t feel that way. My culture is the lederhosen, the wrestling, the sauerkraut. As I got older, I appreciated it more and realized that it is part of my culture even if I didn’t grow up with it,” he said.
Today, Hunt said Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month is about being an ambassador for all parts of his identity.
“I try to take what I’ve gained from it, especially being a first-generation immigrant, going to college, and landing a good job, to be an ambassador for myself and my race.”