So this past month I was in Orlando. I was there for the 2016 Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media (LATISM) national conference, which this year was themed around the idea of influencers being Agents of Change. It had been a couple of years since I had attended this event, and I can honestly say it was as though I had never left.
From the camaraderie of being among my peers from all over the country – and even some attendees from Latin America and Puerto Rico, to the important discussions we continued as a community on topics like immigration, education, health, access to technology, and more, reuniting with the LATISM network really felt like being in familia.
I also had the privilege of serving as a speaker. The panel I participated in was titled “American Latinos & Their Role in Multicultural America.” As you might imagine, we discussed the role of our Latino community in the new U.S. mainstream culture, as well as the impact of assimilation and acculturation on our community identities.
It was a great conversation. For me, the best part was listening to everyone’s perspective on their own relationship to their culture and identity. It’s something I often think about on an ongoing basis.
And going back to the idea of influencers being Change Agents, I think that was a very poignant message. Especially given the current political climate and the next four years that so many in our community are concerned about.
I think for me it was definitely a good reminder about why we started the Juan of Words journey to begin with. It was never about becoming a business – although I’m not complaining that it has. It was and still is about creating a positive space to celebrate our own culture in our own way. I’m glad I made this trip, and I’m glad I was able to truly listen to what other Latino Change Agents had to say.
I’ve decided today that I kind of like the pace of running up and down the streets, jumping in front of vehicles in massive groups to cross the street, the freedom of being able to race in front of people without having to say “excuse me” or “con permiso,” and the luxury of being able to walk almost everywhere. I have also found out what it means to ride the 6 train in the middle of rush hour, and most importantly what a cannoli actually tastes like. So delicious, let me tell you.
I’m attending the LATISM 2013 national conference in New York City, and of course that means there are a lot of great people to meet and reconnect with. I’ll start with those pictures first today.
So I’m in New York for work this week. Bueno por lo menos until Saturday. And while there are a lot of things to do at the conference I’m attending, I’ve also promised myself I’m going to try and do a little sightseeing while here. This is only my second time in the Big Apple after all!
I’ll make these posts short and sweet, and mostly about the pictures. But let me just say, I walked and walked, and walked some more until my piesitos just couldn’t walk anymore today. Then I came back to the hotel and started working on uploading these pictures for you. Let me know if there’s something you’ve always wanted to see in NYC.
I’m kind of sad it’s all over. Although at the same time I’m pretty excited about finally being able to bring my life back to some kind of normalcy. For the last couple of weeks, contrary to what I had planned for myself, my life had literally been taken over by the LATISM12 National Conference here in Houston. This year marked the first time this national conference has ever taken place in the southern part of the United States, and as one of the key coordinators for the conference in my hometown, I had to make sure we could make Texas proud.
Based on the feedback so far, I’m happy to report it kind of seems like we have! The conference was a huge success, with lots of rave reviews so far… although all of that didn’t happen without a little dose of drama too, including my first and very own wardrobe malfunction. ¡Ay qué escandalo!
I know that’s what y’all care about, so let me get to it. What?! It would be my first priority… So anyway, a couple of days before the conference Anjelica had forced me to drive out to our local outlet center – about an hour away – to buy some more presentable clothes to wear at the conferencia. I say forced because according to my protests to her suggestions my tiliches were just fine. So what if my shirts were a little faded, who was really going to notice? Finally, I just gave in and we drove to this mega outlet mall. I hate going there because it is always crowded and it is just so big. My poor patitas are all tired by the time we leave.
Pues, this was not the exception. We did, however, manage to buy a bunch of nice clothes at deep, deep discounts. I’m talking 75 percent off y toda la cosa, including some brand new jeans that I actually really liked. Anywho, the first full day of the conference I put them on and went on about my business. I thought they were pretty cool so yeah there was even a little strutting. Shh, no digan nada!
When I got up from the registration table to grab something, though, I kind of felt a breeze on my backside… if you catch my drift. I reached over to see what was flapping and hitting my thigh, which at this point was partially exposed, and realized that what I was holding in my hands away from my pants was actually my pants. There was a lot more patting before my eyes nearly bulged out of my face and I plopped myself back on my chair. The rest of the morning and afternoon I did not get up even once. I sat there reaching up to hug people from my chair, struggling to keep my legs under the table too, as they were now exposed too where my pants had begun to fall apart from the knees as well.
Finally, when Anjelica came by and she wasn’t as busy I asked her to come close:
Me: Hey… come here.
Anjelica: What happened?
Me: Come here… no I mean come hear. Let me tell you something.
Anjelica: (pulls in close a little confused) What happened?
Me: Can you do me a favor?
Me: Can you go upstairs to our hotel room and get me some pants?
Anjelica: Some pants? Why?
Me: Because (whispering now and pulling my leg slightly out)… mine are ripping everywhere.
Anjelica: What? What did you do?
Me: I don’t know? They’re just ripping everywhere! (at this point I began to picture myself as the Hulk, bulging out of my clothes from frustration and stress, although I wasn’t getting any more buff anywhere…)
Anjelica went upstairs, found me another pair of jeans and brought them down to me. I could go change now! Only 1) I would have to get up and walk across the main lobby holding the back side of my shirt down, and 2) once I had done so, all of the stalls in the men’s restroom were taken. I didn’t want to have to ride the glass elevator all the way up to our room, but I couldn’t risk taking off my pants and putting the new pair of jeans on in the middle of the restroom where anyone could walk in on me changing. I walked back and forth between the elevator and the restroom a couple of times before I decided I would just have to try and change in the open restroom area.
I stormed in determined! Thankfully, someone had just exited one of the stalls. He looked at me kind of weird when I walked in with a pair of extra jeans in my hands, but I just slammed the stall door behind me and changed. I balled up my torn jeans, and returned to the work of registering people in attendance. Oops, I think I might have left those blue jeans there under that table. Thankfully none of the other volunteers ever said anything about them.
Other than that, LATISM12 went by pretty fast and it was a whole lot of fun getting to greet so many nice people I had met online.
¡Nombre! These days it seems like “living my dreams” is all about puro how work! If you can relate, say it! This week I’ve been pretty tied up with too many projects to name, but the good thing is I think – at least I hope – you are going to like what’s coming next for this site. But you know what, that’s what I’m learning about dreams too. That they are a lot of hard work, and that it is only when you truly love what you are doing that you can look past all of the exhaustion to keep going, ha! Okay, you’re right… now I’m starting to sound very over dramatic.
Suffice it to say I am happy where I am. I love writing and blogging on this website, and I am very hopeful for what is yet to come. Y por eso mismo, también I wanted to share this giveaway Verizon Wireless is doing to make your own dreams come true!
I’m participating in partnership with Latinos In Social Media (LATISM).
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, Verizon Wireless is hosting an exciting sweepstakes to win a day with celebrities that inspire Latinos to keep thinking BIG and keep you on the path that fulfills your dreams. Uhm, me pueden mandar a pasar el día con JLO? That would definitely make me happy, LOL!
From NOW until October 15, 2012, enter to win the Día de tus Sueños (Dream Day) Sweepstakes at www.verizoninsider.com/dreamday and you might get a dream-come-true experience! You and a friend could:
Spend a day with Iron Chef @chefjosegarces and learn about his career path and what inspires him. Brainstorm ideas on how to channel your passion for food over lunch at his popular restaurant JD Domestic Restaurant.
Hang out with @Adrienne_Bailon and @JulissaB from the hit show Empire Girls and get a firsthand look at how these clever Latinas are making it big in NYC and the entertainment world.
Get into the passenger seat with pro racer @H3lio and take a very fast ride around the track, stopping along the way to discuss his career path and advice for aspiring professional drivers.
Start a day with television celebrity chef @SimplyIngrid at the market, picking fresh ingredients and then head for the kitchen for a private lesson on ways to spice up your cooking style and market your skills.
Spend a day with @GabyEspino and experience what it’s like to juggle the demands of a successful career with the busy family life.
Adding to the excitement, and making it a little easier to reach your goals, the winner will also receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a Verizon Wireless 4G Tablet to help record your fabulous day, or thoughts and plans through a video diary.
If you’re in the Northeast or Southeast of the country, go to www.verizoninsider.com/dreamday and check for complete rules including eligible zip codes. If the sweepstakes isn’t available in your area, tell your friends, and have them invite you if they win!
This is a sponsored post. Verizon Wireless is administering the giveaway, and is also the sponsor for this post on Juan of Words.
No hay que ser malagradecidos. If there was one thing we all learned growing up at my house it was that it was never okay to be ungrateful. Last month, when I went to Chicago it was via invitation and all of the cost of my travel, hotel and conference fees were covered thanks to the generous donation of one of the LATISM sponsors. What I didn’t know until returning to Houston was that the compadres I’d been hanging out with in Chicago were actually the ones who had made my entire trip possible.
Inevitably me dio mucha pena that I did not get the chance to properly thank these gentlemen from Ford en Español while we were hanging out at the Navy Pier. They literally treated me like royalty and were so down to earth and friendly that it felt like we had known each other for a lifetime. En serio Fernando and Jesus are a todo dar and Ford en Español has always been nothing but wonderful to me. I love it that they are so in touch with their Hispanic clientele. Enough to dedicate an entire marketing effort to us in Ford en Español!
Thank you Ford, Fernando and Jesus for being so great at LATISM!
As a token of my appreciation, let me also add how great Ford is doing with their new car models. This year I’ve had the opportunity to drive their Ford F-150 EcoBoost and the Ford Focus hybrid, and both really were quite impressive. Not only were they easy to drive, comfortable, and very luxurious, but most importantly to me, they were very economical on the gas. Not to mention the great entertainment console which worked seamlessly with my phone on Bluetooth. I’d never even used Bluetooth in a vehicle before! And needless to say after the test runs were over (almost three weeks for the F-150) I did not want to give either one of the vehicles back.
So now, I’m definitely excited about the new 2013 Ford Escape SUV. Not only would it be more practical for a family of three like ours, but it even has Active park assist, which helps drivers parallel park. Wow, that would have come really handy during our road trip to DC this summer! I had a couple of nerve wrecking episodes trying to properly park while we were there. Sad and comical at the same time.
In any event, you should definitely check out the new models. Here is a quick link to the new Ford Escape. Also, LIKE the official Ford en Español Facebook Page. They really do have a lot of great posts all of the time.
I’m sitting on the plane right now, exhausted, con los pies que me están matando – we definitely don’t have that many stairs in Houston – pensando, en tantas cosas tan hermosas that happened to me the last few days. I’m afraid that I’ll blink and it will all have been a dream… or that somehow I won’t remember it all. Me quiero dar el pellizco yo mismo. Then again, I’m not that brave.
This week I attended the Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) National Conference in Chicago – if you don’t know who they are look them up, it’s an amazing network for both Latinos and non Latinos – and while having been invited to attend in it of itself was pretty damn extraordinary, I don’t think I’d fully grasped the significance of what this trip would mean to me. As soon as I walked in the door at the Intercontinental Hotel, near the gorgeous Navy Pier where everything took place, mind you well after 11 p.m., I was met with abrazos and cariñitos: ¡Juan! ¡Juanito! ¡Juan of Words! The cínico in me wanted to believe that these were just standard formalities, people just being nice, but then something weird happened… it kept happening, everywhere I went. Even more amazing – uuyy hasta se me enchina la piel – más gente linda approached me to tell me why they enjoyed this blog, and how much they identified with me. All I could do was offer hugs because there really aren’t any words to express the gratitude in my heart for this kindness. Para serles sincero I still don’t believe it!
I mean this is me. The kid with little dreams, with little expectations out of life besides graduating from high school, the one out of seven chiquillos that my parents raised a duras penas, the one who didn’t even believe in his own passion for writing not too long ago, the one who still can’t even believe how much love he’s been blessed with through this medio. No se si me lo merezca, but I sure as hell am grateful!
To top it all off, on the night before my departure a couple of us decided to drink a glass of wine before calling it a night, and low and behold who did we end up sharing a table with? Dolores Huerta! Yes, that Dolores Huerta, the living legend. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful three day event. Not only was she truly graceful, but what she had to say to us felt like it was truly delivered to our ears by divine intervention. The journalist in me wanted to take notes, but we were all so mesmerized that all I could do was listen and try to record everything she said to us in my mind. All in all, what she wanted us to know was that we are all just as capable of making a difference, of utilizing our voice for a greater good, and of motivating others to do the same. That is definitely a tall order, but one I wanted to share with all of you as well. Don’t take it from me. Take it from her, una mujer verdadera that has made her mission in life to serve others. What an inspiration!
So in closing this very random post, I want to thank you all once again for reading this humble little blog and for making me feel extra special in Chicago, and also by encouraging you to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. You never know what might happen if you just try.
Spanish is actually my first language. Y a pesar de haber estudiado y vivido toda mi vida aquí, nunca deje de hablar el español.My parents wanted us to speak both languages and made it their job to teach us español at home. Por eso ahora cuando la gente se sorprende y me dice “oye, ¡qué bien hablas el español!”, me da muchísimo orgullo que mis padres nos ayudaron a preservar esta parte tan linda de nuestra herencia. No hay como pelear, amar, sentir, y gritar en español. Porque como ustedes bien saben, nuestro vocabulario es mucho más Romántico y amplio. A veces al traducir una palabra de español a inglés se le pierde todo, especialmente la emoción y el corazón.
Por eso cuando me invitaron a participar en “El Día E”, el día oficial para celebrar nuestro idioma alrededor del mundo, no lo tuve que pensar ni un solo instante. Acepte con todo gusto, y aquí les presento mi palabra favorita en el idioma. ¡Gracias a todos por las sugerencias en las redes sociales! Espero les guste el videllito (a y nada más pa’que sepan, la cámara agrega unas cuantas libritas… pensé que debería aclarar eso, jajaja). Compartan sus palabras en español favoritas conmigo porfis!
Ve más videos El Día E de mis amigos y amigas Aquí