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Ruanna
Ruanna

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Feeling the Vibes & the Importance of Connection✨

Author's note: I originally intended on posting this a couple weeks ago on the last day of LTX Fest, but it fell off my radar. I really wanted to circle back to it, so here it is! FYI - I'm writing this post from a high-energy, gratitude-filled space, feeling the good vibes from the conference and in a super-reflective mood. You have been warned! :D

LTX Fest

This year, from October 13-16, I had the privilege of virtually attending LTX Fest - a 4-day virtual experience curated for Latinx professionals in tech. I wanted to attend the conference in person last year in San Francisco, but I wasn't able to last-minute, so when it came back around this year, albeit virtual, I was eager to attend. My manager was incredibly supportive and encouraged me to participate in as many sessions as I wanted. Luckily, most of the keynotes and panels were in the late afternoon/evening so I was able to catch them at the end of my work day.

As excited as I was to attend, I also wasn't sure how much I would get out of a virtual event, as I have observed throughout this time how difficult it can be to feel connected to others in a 100% virtual world.

LTX Fest helped me immensely in ways I wasn't anticipating, and has given me a spark of inspiration, mixed with connection, faith, and hope.

Despite the fact that the event was entirely virtual, I was blown away by how interactive and seamless it was. During the panels and keynotes, there was a sidebar chat box where participants could comment and connect with each other in real-time. During "down time" in between panels and talks, there was never a silent moment or time wasted. During these in-between times, high-quality videos of various Latinx in tech were shown, highlighting their personal and engaging stories.

The ability to network with others was seamless as well. After creating your profile, you could see a list of "matches", or other participants who were of a similar background or interested in similar topics, and easily schedule time on their calendar for a 15-minute video chat, all within the platform.

Throughout the event, I watched an inspiring panel of Latinx professionals in tech as they chatted about the importance of representation and access in the tech space. I watched passionate speakers share their stories of how they got into tech and their experiences being in the tech space. I networked with some really awesome Latinas. I got ideas from some, and gave advice and ideas to others. I listened, I talked, I reflected. But above all, it felt so good to connect.

The Power of Connection

I happily started my job in a new industry and role in February of this year. Three weeks later, the entire office was working from home due to the pandemic, and shortly after that my state went into lockdown. While I have been incredibly grateful to have a job during this time (and a job with great colleagues, in a role that I enjoy, where I am constantly learning new things), it's definitely been challenging to build new relationships and feel connected to others while working remotely for months on end.

This conference reminded me once again of how important it is to connect with colleagues and new people, perhaps now more than ever before as so many of us are feeling isolated, lonely, and missing our regular social contact.

Gratitude

This year has seen a pandemic, protests, and political battles. My country seems more divided than it ever has been in my lifetime. There have been devastating natural disasters, and hundreds of fires in my home state of California. At times, this year has seemed to be a never-ending roller coaster with feelings of confusion, worry, isolation, fear, heartbreak, anger, and sadness.

So, here are some small bright lights that have emerged in my reflection and as I attempt to flip my perspective:

  • Working from home during a pandemic has made me appreciate relationships more than ever. Yes, it requires more work, planning, intention, and thought to build and maintain relationships during this time, but I am certainly not taking them for granted. It's forced me to get out of my comfort bubble and get creative. In addition to virtual chats with friends and socially-distanced meet-ups with friends in my "social bubble", I've been actively seeking out webinars and conferences and other opportunities to connect with others. I've been reaching out more to connect with some of my colleagues one-on-one, and have started a Spanish language exchange buddy program and group for some of my colleagues as well.

  • This time has given me an opportunity to pay more attention to mental, emotional, and physical health. That of my own, and others'. And with that, being grateful for the little things, like going on a walk and simply being present, hearing the birds chirp and the lighting change from summer to fall. The fires that burned for months and the lack of healthy air quality have made me appreciate clean air, blue skies, and the feeling of the sun on my skin more than ever before. This time has been filled with cooking new healthy recipes, finding new ways to be physically active, and reaching out to family members and friends to check on them. With the slowing down has come an enhanced focus on self-care, as well as supporting others.

  • Inclusivity, advocacy, diversity, and equity are always on my mind, but perhaps moreso now than ever before. I have a renewed motivation and inspiration to keep advocating for causes I deeply believe in: diversifying the tech space, equal access to tech for all, and connecting with others from diverse experiences and backgrounds from my own and building cross-cultural connections.

It's been a strange, strange year - I'm sure many people would agree. But with all that being said, I have a renewed sense of:

  • the power of working and connecting with good people, who are doing good things, and doing good in the world.

  • the importance of reaching out when you need help, and reaching out to help others.

  • and lastly, the amount of positive change that we as a people can accomplish when we come together with good intentions and truly listen to one another. :)

Passionate about anything I listed above, or did anything resonate with you? I'd love to connect! Say "hey" in the comments, or follow me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Top comments (1)

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sjarva profile image
Senja Jarva

Yay! Thanks for sharing your experience, it sounds you had such a wonderful time πŸ₯³

I’ve been thinking about engagement and social interaction on remote events too, and that scepticism has actually prevented me from participating in many remote events. But after reading your experience, I think I’ll give these events a go. I really think that with the right technology, these events could be as connecting and interesting as face-to-face events, but that either there aren’t many good platforms for remote events, or that the organisers just haven’t found or cannot afford them. But wow, the calendar booking systems is a really really brilliant idea! 😊

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