This was originally posted at https://juancaicedo.com/blog/first-talk-in-spanish
This week I’ll be giving a talk at NodeConf Argentina. It’s going to be my first time giving a talk in Spanish. That’s a huge deal for me, and it’s all thanks to my friend Raul. Thanks to him, I’ve come to see creating content in Spanish as a responsibility I have to the Latin American development community.
This story starts in 2016, when I met Raul in Uruguay. We were both there to give our first international talks at JSConf Uruguay. As a Colombian and a Venezuelan, we had a lot in common to talk about and became friends quickly.
The conference offered to let us do our talks in Spanish or in English.
I’m comfortable speaking Spanish, but I’m most used to talking about technical topics in English. I didn’t feel confident talking about programming in my native language, so I chose to give my talk in English.
Raul had left Caracas to work in Chile when things started to get very bad under Maduro’s presidency. He had been working hard to build a new life for himself and his wife in a completely new country, all while caring for his family back home. He really wanted to get exposure for the topic he was speaking on, so he also gave his talk in English.
Here’s a link to my talk from back then. I would love to give you one for Raul’s talk, but unfortunately halfway through his presentation the lights went out and the footage was lost. (It was a great talk.)
The opportunity to give a talk at this conference is actually my second time in the city of Buenos Aires. I came to this same conference in November 2016.
I had seen on Twitter that Raul had gotten accepted to give a talk at the NodeConf that year. When I sent him a tweet to congratulate him, he asked “Are you going to come?” I couldn’t think of any good reasons to say no, so I decided I would fly out to attend.
Raul gave an amazing talk about the Ethereum platform, this time in Spanish. What he told me is that he now thought it was important to make technical content available in Spanish, because technology skills are the best thing to lift people in Latin America out of poverty.
Raul inspired me. Since that day, giving a talk in Spanish has been one of my goals.
Nowadays, I live in Colombia and work remotely. It has become apparent to me all the privileges I’ve had growing up as an immigrant in the United States. Someone who lived in Colombia through the turbulent 1990s and 2000s grew up in a very different way from me, and because of that had fewer opportunities available to them than I did.
Sure, I’m a self taught programmer and worked hard to break into the industry, but I did it within a context where I had a lot of resources available to me. I could read the best blog posts on the topics I was learning, read the documentation of tools I used, and watch videos from great conferences.
What if that type of content wasn’t available to me, because I only spoke Spanish?
It’s worth mentioning that Spanish is the fourth most common language in the world, and is spoken by 7% of the world’s population. English is more popular, but even then that only means that it is spoken by 13% of the population.
If you’re curious about how my talk goes, please send me an email at retiredcanadianpoet at gmail.