“Diversity is the secret formula for the future of this country”
David Hurtado is the dean of Administration and Program Develpment at Esperanza College of Eastern University, where he contributes to provide more educational chances for the Latino youth in Philadelphia.
From his office at Esperanza College of Eastern University, David Hurtado knows that high-quality education is the most certain way to overturn the struggles that accompany poverty and discrimination.
It might sound like a stock phrase, but this is not the case. Hurtado arrived in the United States at age of 9, from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the financial capital of Bolivia, the South American country with a population as large as the number of undocumented immigrants in our country.
His father had decided to come with one purpose in mind: giving his children the life and education that he never had.
As a child, Hurtado was a poor immigrant in a complete anglo scenario. He spent his first four years in Georgia learning how to adapt to the new world. Then, as a teenager, went to Miami where he found a less homogeneous environment closer to his Latino roots, one where he was able to create a sense of belonging in the country that adopted him.
It was in Miami where the current dean of Administration and Program Development at Esperanza College -and his five siblings- made his father’s dream come true: they built a future through education. All of them have graduated college, three have graduate degrees.
Now, Hurtado has a PhD. in communications and the man who leads several projects at Esperanza College, including the new branch the Latino institution will open in Florida as well as the Transmedia Production and Technology program, with which the institution intends to provide young Latino students with the tools to develop media skills.
Hurtado, who’s been in Philadelphia the last three years, said this project is very important because -as he says- “he who tells the best stories, shapes the culture and shapes the future.”
Because of his work at Esperanza College, this Bolivian-American is one of the twelve finalists of AL DÍA and Cabrini University’ campaign, “I am an #AmericanImmigrant.”
What is it like to be an immigrant in the US?
When I arrive in the US I was 9 years old. We arrived in the state of Georgia. I came from the city of Santa Cruz, that was very warm. It was a very different culture but my dad knew ahead of time he wanted us to immigrate so we had been learning English back in Bolivia, so we didn’t have to start from scratch, and in that sense it was a lot easier.
I still feel like an immigrant. Yes, I’ve been here well over 30 years but I still identify as a Boliviano, as a Bolivian-American. It’s an ongoing process of adjusting.
When was the first time you felt like you were home here?
It felt like home, like “this is where I belong,” probably after about four or five years of being here; really when I moved to Miami. Because, before I moved to Miami, I was just getting used to the culture. There weren’t a lot of people around me that were Hispanics, so we were pretty much in the anglo culture.
But once we got to Miami, all of the sudden there were a bunch of other Hispanics, other Latinos from a whole bunch of different countries. For the first time there was Latino food, Bolivian restaurants and other restaurants that I was familiar with… That’s when I really felt at home, but in both cultures, because Miami was for me the place where I had the richness of the Hispanic culture as well as the order of the anglo culture that I really came to appreciate.
What would you say to Donald Trump if he was in front of you?
I would tell him that as Hispanic immigrants, we are what he is looking for. We have the elements of what he says “make America great again.” We have an incredible work ethic. We work harder than most others. It’s very normal for people to have two to three jobs, so we are extremely dedicated.
We are innovative, very creative, we have the spirit of entrepreneurship in us. So, I hope that he would realize that everything we offer as a whole is the type of things he is looking for.
We are the present of the United States, and we are the future.
If he can realize that he would really see that if we can come together, we can appreciate that diversity is the secret formula for the future of this country.