Huntington Bank Cleveland President Sean Richardson and a room filled with Huntington employees who are a part of the Hispanic Business Resource Group, welcomed Bishop Nelson Perez on Oct. 14.
The bishop was invited by the Hispanic BRG for a lunch and learn where the topic focused on immigration.
Richardson said one thing that makes Huntington Bank a special place to work is the focus on listening to colleagues and the ability to deliver work-place programming based on topics suggested. Embracing heritage and understanding the narrative of immigration within Northeast Ohio was one such idea.
Bishop Perez thanked Richardson and the Hispanic BRG for the invitation and noted that fostering diversity in the workplace is what supports the mission of transforming communities.
In the first part of his talk, the bishop shared personal stories about his father who worked in banking while in Cuba during the 1960s. Eventually, political challenges within the country guided the family to Miami where bishop was born. It was not until 1998 when Pope John Paul II traveled to Cuba that Bishop Perez was able to visit his parents’ homeland.
“As the plane started to land I was emotional as until that point, Cuba was a mystical place. Many stories had been shared but much of what I knew growing up was of the Cuban exile,” he said.
Bishop Perez shared stories of growing up in a concentrated Cuban area in North New Jersey. He said that until he was adult and spent time living in Puerto Rico, his had not been fully receptive to interpreting cultures openly.
“Even though we are of Hispanic descent, we see the world differently. Additionally, we may both speak Spanish, but what I say one way could get translated into a different meaning.”
The bishop also shared with the group that often times in Northeast Ohio viewpoints may be skewed by media headlines with the mention of words such as immigrant, migrant, or programs such as DACA.
“Headlines give the impression that people on the move is of Mexican origin, but in our own backyard it is not – they are not even of Hispanic descent. In Northeast Ohio, the larger population of immigrants is Asian. To remedy an anti-immigrant rhetoric we must first have the knowledge of who needs help in our own neighborhoods and minister to them,” the bishop said.