On Wednesday, November 9, I flew to Chicago to attend the first national LATISM (Latinos in Social Media) Conference. I know, it's been more than a week, but I've needed that long to take it all in and properly reflect on what happened!
For those not in the know, LATISM (hashtag #latism on Twitter) is a non-profit organization dedicated to uniting Latinos in social media. From their website: "LATISM, the largest organization for Latino and Latina engaged in social media, is a 501(c) 4 nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing the social, civic and economic status of the Latino community."
I'll be honest - I was nervous in the weeks leading up to the conference. I didn't know anyone personally - just a couple twitter handles and a few voices from online and phone conversations. Would they accept me for the geeky, mostly-but-not-fully-Spanish speaking self? Would I feel lost among the sea of people who (seemed to) have met countless times before?
Silly me! If I was the odd one out, then we all must have been, because immediately upon my arrival I realized I was surrounded by Smart Latinas and Latinos (and Gringos!) galore. I was most decidedly not the only geeky Latino (or even Latina!) there. Nor was I the only mostly-but-not-really bilingual person, either. (In fact, while most of the attendees spoke some form of both Spanish and English, there were plenty of folks who spoke either Spanish or English, and very little - if any - of the other!)
Besides the people, I really enjoyed the sessions I attended. The speakers and panelists covered some really great topics and I absorbed as much information as I could. On the downside, my brain-sponge filled up on the first day and cramped out on the second day (four sessions a day for two days, along with networking with as many of the 500 attendees as I could, required a LOT of brain power!). I was pretty cooked for several days after the conference, even. (Totally worth it, though!)
On the upside, however, I was able to test drive a brand new, not-yet-released 2012 Toyota Corolla, thanks to Toyota, one of the major sponsors of the event. Despite having learned to drive in New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Boston, I was pretty scared to drive in Chicago. I'm delighted to report: everyone managed to walk away without a scratch, dent, or paint chip. Hurray!
Out of the whole conference, I have to wholeheartedly admit that the people were the ones who really had the greatest impact on me. I made fast friends that I know will last a long time. And I made connections that I look forward to developing over time. (Forgive me, friends, for not naming each and every one of you on here, as there are so many and I would hate to forget anyone!)
Many thanks to the organizers, sponsors, speakers, panelists, and attendees of #latism11. I am changed because of you!
Escúchame and I are proud to take part in LATISM. We will be writing up some more details in our upcoming newsletter, so if you're not a Community Member (membership is FREE) already, make sure that you've at least signed up for the newsletter (the form is on the bottom right-hand side of the page)!