The Krista Colleagues Pilot Project
It all began when Jim loaned Linda (’97) a book he’d borrowed from the library—The Armada by Garrett Mattingly. It was book chronicling the history of the Spanish Armada, a topic the pair had discussed casually during a meeting of Educational Opportunity Program supporters from University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Washington. Jim loved the book. He was a graduate student teaching history at the University of Washington at the time, and when he received a late notice on the book from the library, he was sure that it was Linda, also a UW graduate, was confirming their shared passion for history and signaling a romantic interest in him.
“I thought, ‘maybe she wants me to call her,’” Jim recalled.
Linda laughed, “Ah, the male ego! I’d just forgotten about the book.”
The origin of the Hunts’ relationship may have its roots in history (and literary delinquency), but it is their shared, keen focus on the future that drives them forward today. Together they have endured love and loss, achievement and adventure, and have relished every opportunity to learn, teach, and accompany others on life’s journeys. Both accomplished researchers and writers and professor emeriti from Whitworth University, their latest act of generosity includes funding a 3-year Krista Colleague Pilot Project uniting Gonzaga University and Whitworth students choosing to be engaged in a year or more of volunteer post-graduate service.
Each spring, five students from each university who are planning to serve with existing agencies such as Jesuit Volunteers or the Peace Corps will be selected to receive a $1,000 service leadership grant. Then, the ten students will meet to begin creating a supportive community before graduation. Most importantly, they will come back together after their service for debriefing retreats to process their life-shaping experiences at the Hearth, a guest center at the Hunts’ hillside home. The Hunts’ hope is that such community support will help inspire a lifetime of positive engagement and service in each individual. Gonzaga University professor Josh Armstrong, director of the Comprehensive Leadership Program, along with staff from the Center for Community Engagement will provide leadership.
The pilot project was Inspired by the vision and work of the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship which was born over twenty years ago out of profound tragedy. The Hunt’s 25-year-old daughter Krista was volunteering with her husband in Bolivia on a three-year assignment in a very rural village. They hoped to use their education and talents eventually in a career in international relations, but they felt they first needed to listen and learn from others in a developing nation. Their dream was cut short when a bus the couple was on plunged over a cliff six months after their arrival, killing Krista (pictured below with her husband in Bañada de la Cruz, Bolivia) along with four others.
Along their journey processing the immense grief, Jim and Linda discovered a desire to do more than cry and write. They wanted to support students like Krista with hearts for serving others and assist in transforming their meaningful experiences into lifelong impacts.
The Hunts’ focus on the importance of supportive communities emerged from Jim’s 25 years helping lead student trips to Central America. During that time, he learned how essential support proved to be after such incredible life-shaping experiences.
“There’s a gap in our culture,” said Jim. “Service and travel often provide new vision, purpose, and direction for a young person’s life. But without debriefing and a support community, we also saw it could be overwhelming, sometimes even dysfunctional.” Gonzaga has included this important component in their Zambia program.
The Krista Colleague pilot project, an independent project from the foundation, will help to fill this gap as another faith-based, intentional community.
“Krista’s expressed desire was “to share God’s love in actions,” added Linda, “and she felt times of service offers this opportunity.”
This pilot project parallels Gonzaga’s faith and leadership mission into the alumni experience. The Hunts’ ultimate hope is that this project emerges of high value to the University and that what they learn can then be duplicated to other universities throughout the West.
Krista’s passion for service in developing countries was inspired when she was young. Jim and Linda promised each of their children an adventure. The idea was inspired by the formative travels during the young adulthood of people like John Muir, Helga Estby, Jane Addams, Ben Franklin, John Quincy Adams, and Fredrick Douglas, about whom Jim and Linda studied and published. The Hunts wanted their children’s adventures in their early teens to inspire them toward lives with vision and purpose.
Susan, the eldest of the Hunt children, visited New York City when she was 14 years old. Her trip ignited in her passions for the pace and opportunity of the big city and an unshakable entrepreneurial spirit. Jefferson, the Hunt’s second child and adopted Korean son, chose to bicycle across the state of Washington with his father when he was just eleven years old. The former owner of his own bike business on Kauai, Hawaii, Jefferson’s adventure included a group of big-time cyclists and mountain climbers—all strong men with whom the young Hunt kept up, no problem.
Krista was the youngest of the Hunt children. Together with her older sister, Krista entered and won a recipe and party hosting contest sponsored by Seventeen Magazine, which awarded them a trip to New York, complete with a Bloomingdale’s photo shoot and a $2,000 prize. Krista used the prize money for a trip as a summer exchange student to Guatemala.
“That trip set her trajectory to care about the world we know,” Linda explained.
Gonzaga is truly grateful for Zags like Jim and Linda Hunt. Their generosity and partnership will empower the service-minded people for others like Krista to extend her legacy of love and care for communities around the world.