Guest Post by Tony Vargas (@tonytorero)
10 years ago today, I was working hard during the late afternoon hours from within the Alcatel Wireline laboratories in Villaverde, one of the southern most of the 21 districts that compose the automonous community of Madrid in Spain. I was well-known at the Research & Development hub for Alcatel for working hard, too hard; como un estadounidense típico. I delighted in conducting my daily symphony of operating 4 to 5 servers in concert as I conducted my quality testing batteries on telecommunication management equipment alongside my Spanish co-workers. My colleagues would poke light fun at me but this was all just part of our daily “buen rollo” (good vibes). September 11, 2001 changed all of that though.
I remember perfectly well when I perceived a tangible & heavy weight of concern approaching me as five co-workers approached me to ask me if I had heard “The News.” One of these co-workers, Miguel Ángel, would later be killed himself while coming to work 2.5 years later in the Madrid train bombings on March 11, 2004. Life can be so cruel and unfair. It was then and remains a reminder that we should always live every day to the fullest and love those around us with all our might. Of course, this all occurred before the proliferation of the Social Media age and Google Reader was still 6 years from hitting the market. I had NO idea what they were referring to.
My world just stopped once I heard the news. Now, I’m from the mid-west and don’t have family in New York. However, I do have a dear family member who works in the heart of Washington D.C. so I was desperately concerned for my family as well as my country of birth. Do you know what most marked me about this experience? It wasn’t what the medias were reporting on either side of the Atlantic. It was the love, compassion, concern and warmth that that overflowed in waves from my co-workers, my neighbors, my friends, my family. None of which were American citizens; all of which were residents from Spain but represented at least 8 Spanish speaking countries. We forged an eternal bond and they became my family that day. I leaned on them for support, comprehension, love and they gave willingly, expecting nothing in return.
I have not found anything comparable to this until the past year. During a period of professional transition, I made a decision to immerse myself in the Social Media age as a networking tool and received much more than I bargained for. And, of all the groups I have met and forged a relationship with, none have been as open, warm and supportive as the LATISM community & family (the acronym stands for: Latinos in Social Media). LATISM is a not for profit, online group of passionate social media leaders who are unwaveringly committed to helping create online and offline unity for the 55 Million plus Latinos in the US and beyond! Whether it’s collecting books for libraries in need, helping reconstruction efforts in hurricane ravaged Haiti or attending the White House to offer perspectives on the education needs for our youth, LATISM is there and makes a difference in the world around us. I feel the same warmth from this group, the same strong emotional bond; unconditional love and support that I felt 10 years ago today!
But I’ve been missing something additional: I have yet to hug these friends who have supported me unconditionally and compassionately as I’ve aimed to find my social media voice and use this space to promote social good. Fortunately though, I will soon finally get that opportunity. From November 9 through 11, I will be travelling to Chicago to take part in the LATISM 2011 National Conference! I am so excited, I feel like Paulo Coehlo in the journey he takes in his story: The Pilgrimage!
If you are a LATINO or simply interested in supporting LATINO issues, you should absolutely follow the #latism hashtag on Twitter and make plans to attend this event. Online support & encouragement is fantastic but I can’t wait to thank my LATISM friends & familia in person.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tony Vargas (@tonytorero) is a technology evangelist who has lived and worked in the US and Europe. An accomplished developer and project manager in Telecommunications, Web & Software Development, eCommerce/Banking, Knowledge Management, eMarketing and Social Media, Tony has a unique, award-winning track record of finding creative, profitable solutions to challenges for every partner he collaborates with. You can connect with Tony on TonyTorero.com, LinkedIn & Twitter.