Whenever, I sit down and have to write the hardest thing is knowing how to start and end, the middle just happens. How do you encapsulate a 12 city tour, of which I did nine along with many of my colleagues? Let's start with a couple of quotes from huge literary figures of South America.

“Everything touches everything” Jorge Borges “And one by one the nights between our separated cities are joined to the night that unites us.” Pablo Neruda. That is how I come out of this tour feeling more interconnected with Oracle Groundbreakers, Java Champions, Oracle User Group organizers and attendees and then everyday folks from Uber drivers to the man or woman on the street, the Concierge at the hotel and more.

 

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The Oracle Latin America tour was started by my colleague Pablo Ciccarello along with the local Oracle User Groups in South and Central America. It has been going on now for eight years. I had heard of Oracle User Group tours like The Japan groundbreakers tour and in India the Groundbreakers Yatra tour Some road/air warriors did the Yatra tour in India followed by the LAD tour. Others drop in and out. (I think the sweet spot for travel is about two weeks.)

 

The Latin America Tour went from August 2nd to August 28th, it started in Santiago Chile, way in the South and worked its way up North and criss-crossed the coasts, ending in Lima, Peru. This was my first ever tour and I covered it up to San Jose, Costa Rica, so did 9 of the cities (Mexico City, Guatemala City, and Lima were the remaining cities.) Here are some highlights:

 

* The Groundbreakers tour is organized by the local User Groups to share about Oracle technologies and to engage the communities. I think it is/was very successful in terms of sharing knowledge, networking, and growing/building community, which is at the heart of the tour.  I want to give a shoutout to all the organizers, sorry it is hard to enumerate them all, but special thanks to Edel Weissmann, Nelson Calero, Pablo Ciccarello, Otávio Santana, Alberto Salzar, Alexis Lopez, Lilian Riveros, Gustavo Gonzalez, Alex Zabala, Rafael De Belloni, Roy Salazar, Eddie Mora, Rita Nunez, and all the other folks who showed me and the Groundbreakers their hospitality. Jennifer Nicholson bookended the tour at the beginning in Santiago  and closed out the tour.


* Pablo did an awesome job managing the tour. I helped him with setup and manning the camera for interviews, doing social media and  I filled in for him in three cities where I did the Community Keynote (15-20 mins). The Slides were in Spanish and I spoke in English and it went down great. I don’t know the count of interviews Pablo and I did, not as many as Groundbreakers Live, but easily 40-50+, plus a lot photos that were shared in Tweets of keynotes, sessions and dinners.


* For the "GroundbreakersTour" - Hashtag: Mentions 1,384 and Reach 759,917, so we made some connections. Th top 3 Countries for Mentions/Reach were U.S. followed by Uruguay and then Brazil.

 

* All the venues we visited were at universities, and that worked out pretty well in terms of attracting both young and mature audiences. The goal was to live-stream as much of the interviews as possible with a mobile setup and we managed to do that successfully. I did a Video Mashup of each of the nine cities based on photos, plus intermediate and final wrap-up videos.


* There were ~20 plus  local speakers. All events were all day w/ multiple tracks ( 2 to 5). Almost all events had Hands-On-Labs. Audiences varied from 50-400+ based on the venue.

* All the Oracle Advocates/Oracle PMs did an awesome job of promoting the tour and sessions on Twitter. I find I am slowly descending to the dark side and starting to take a lot more selfies and promoting on Twitter. But the king of selfies, content and social media promotion has to be Sandesh Rao, who deserves an award. I learnt a lot from him (but still have a ways to go). Pablo posted from @OracleDevsLA, I posted from @OracleSysDev and Lori Lorusso (who gets high 5’s) retweeted all our posts at each event on @groundbreakers

 

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I started with a quote, so I will end it with one too from Jorge Borges.

 

“If I could live again my life,

In the next - I'll try,

- to make more mistakes,

I won't try to be so perfect,

I'll be more relaxed...

I'll take fewer things seriously..

I'll take more risks,

I'll take more trips,

I'll watch more sunsets,

I'll climb more mountains,

I'll swim more rivers,

I'll go to more places I've never been

I'll eat more ice ...I'll have more real problems and less imaginary ones

If I could live again - I will travel light

If I could live again - I'll try to work bare feet at the beginning of spring till the end of autumn,

I'll watch more sunrises ...If I have the life to live”