Courtney Lawrence

From Costa Rica to Nicaragua: Capturing Day 1 at the ANDE Latin American Conference

Editor’s Note: NextBillion is in Granada vering ANDE´s Latin America Conference. Guest Writer Courtney Lawrence shares her impressions after the first day of the venue and her article continues the Latin America in the Spotlight special started last week. We’ll continue to report on the ANDE Latin America Conference both here and in our sister site NextBillion en Español.

It’s a warm, yet breezy evening in Granada, Nicaragua. From Parque Central, a central reference point for most visitors, the soft backdrop of music and laughter can be heard dripping from the patios, bars and enchanted sidewalks of this town renowned for it’s charm.

I have just made my way back to the small family run hotel where I stay after what has been more than just a busy day, starting with early morning meetings and ending with an American Embassy hosted reception in Managua. As I sit to reflect on the past 48 hours of my journey traveling from Costa Rica to the inaugural ANDE Regional Conference I am overcome with both elation and exhaustion.

Today symbolically marked the kick off of a new era in terms of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs unifying the disparate pieces of the international development puzzle in the Latin American region. As Ricardo Teran of Agora Partnerships emphasized during today’s opening session, this space to connect, collaborate and build the field is about putting “a dent in the universe.” More than 100 participants from 16 countries gathered to share knowledge and networks with the objective to catalyze collaboration and maximize impact. Training modules were relevant and coffee breaks anchored the organic facilitation of connecting conversations.

It wasn’t just the wide variety of workshops – everything from Media and Web 2.0 Training to Impact Assessment or Capacity Building – that made today noteworthy, but the synergy generated as a result of bringing together so many dynamic thought and field leaders in one room with the common intention to turn words into action. Although debates are (and will most likely remain) endless in terms of how to realize solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, there was an intangible authenticity saturating the environment.

The conference is far from over, and yet strategies about how to capitalize on the momentum are already in full force. Over this evening’s hors d’oeuvres and cocktails the question turned to twitter (I have a feeling this happens more often than not). Do you tweet? turned into Tweet #ANDE tomorrow morning.

From a social media and marketing perspective, one that I have absorbed via consulting gigs, I couldn’t be more pleased to see participants so unified and savvy right out of the starting blocks of day one. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for NextBillion publishing conference details on their RSS feed!

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