Thursday, November 17, 2011

Abrazos y Besos to Latism ... On Being Born-Again y La Escuela

#Latism11 Chicago Conference
I can't believe that a week ago, today, I had the honor of volunteering and attending the Latinos in Social Media (Latism) Conference in Chicago. Thinking this is probably a good time to apologize for the five minutes warning I gave you before your Twitter timelines became flooded with my #Latism11 tweets. Every single tweet meant something to me, I only wish I'd attended more sessions, so I could've tweeted more! So to my friends, thank you for not blocking me, but more importantly, thank you all for the retweets.

PBS Kids: Virtual Pre-K! Ready for Math

I am filled with gratitude that what started as an offer made by me to help in future Latism Boston events turned into an invitation to volunteer at the annual conference. My head is still reeling from this last-minute whirlwind trip, where I met several blogueras/os (@Kiki_Liki@LatinaSweetie, @Cheryl_Aguilar, @BlogsbyLatinas, @Juan of Words, @LBCConnect@FollowtheLede to name a few) and attended events sponsored by brands that recognize the importance of engaging Latino consumers intelligently and thoughtfully.

What's stuck with me since coming home has been the thought-leaders from education, government, non-government groups and business, even key-note speakers, who discussed how they're using social media to make a difference in their communities ... and, of course, all the education sessions I missed because there simply wasn't enough time to do everything. Ay. For an infovore like me, it hurt.

It's taken me a week to recover. I returned home at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, only to turn-around and be at school that morning at 9 a.m. for a final group presentation in my Counseling in Schools class. Since Saturday, I played catch-up on the intro to my thesis that was due in another class, last night. I've been stressed out. But finally, I wake up this morning, sick, but still able to breathe a little easier. And if I had the chance to do it all over again, would I? Absolutely. Although, I'm left with the lingering thought that my roomie, Viviana Hurtado @WiseLatinaClub (who I didn't meet with the lights on for over 24-hours) thought I was a weirdo because of the strange schedule I kept. : )

Following are a few highlights
from one panel in particular
that moved me.

Spanglish -- From El Barrio to Madison Avenue (moderated by @JuanofWords : ) *hi Juan*
  • When communicating, whether in English, Spanish, or Spanglish, it's important that we remain flexible and adapt to our audience. We need to know who we're addressing and allow our comfort-level and language ability to dictate how we communicate. We'll know when it's appropriate to use Spanglish.
  • Language is the bridge between our culture and identity. "Who do we want to be?" or better, yet, "What identity do we want our children to have?"
  • "Forced" Spanglish in advertisement by big brands misses the mark -- those of us in the target market know when brands haven't done their homework.
  • KNOW that small omissions in Spanish accents can make a HUGE difference, e.g. "ano" v. "año" can be the difference between "Happy New Year" and "Happy New Anus." 
  • Manuel Delgado, @DelgadoMan, from Agua Marketing introduced the term "retro-acculturation" and had us all laughing when he referred to those of us who can relate to this term as, "born-again Latinos." I'm thinking somebody should jump on making t-shirts. : )
  • Also, I was surprised by how open and comfortable panel attendees were to share their bicultural, biliterate, identity challenges, however large or small. Simply, wow.
A little dancing from the Awards Night Gala (they could move!) ...

Thank you to Ana Roca-Castro (@AnaRC), Elianne Ramos (@ergeekgoddess), Reina Valenzuela (@Soylamar) and the rest of the team for organizing this wonderful event and to the sponsors who made it possible for me and the rest of the volunteers to attend. ¡Mil gracias! I'll be ready for next year. : )