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NCLR panelists share how social media empowers Latino youth

LatinaLista — What does a technology reporter, DREAM Act students, an immigration researcher-blogger, a college student association president and the Mayor of San Antonio have in common?


They were all panelists on a special Líderes Town Hall panel titled “The Online Generation: Limited or Limitless?” which was moderated by Latina Lista over the weekend at the NCLR National Conference held in San Antonio. The NCLR Líderes series targets young people.

NCLR panelists (L-R) Kemi, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Gaby Pacheco, Victor Sanchez, Andrea Nill and Omar Gallaga.

Omar Gallaga — technology reporter for the Austin American-Stateman; Gaby Pacheco — one of the Trail of DREAM walkers who walked from Miami to DC to ask the President to pass a moratorium on student deportations; Kemi — co-founder of; Victor Sanchez — president of the UC Student Association; Andrea Nill — researcher-blogger at and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro discussed the impact of social media.

A 9 a.m. panel discussion that was targeting young people may have been a little early, and while there were some empty seats in the room, there was enough of a mix of young people and adults that when it came time for the Q&A the clock ran out before everyone’s questions could be answered — doesn’t that always happen?

Though the topic was social media and the target audience was youth, the natural assumption could be made that we were preaching to the choir, but each person had such unique experiences with the issue that it made for some interesting revelations — after a big faux pas on my part.

I acted like a total gringa and introduced the Mayor as “Joolian” instead of “Wholiahn.” Chalk it up to nervousness and the fact that was my first panel to moderate. I have a feeling it will be my last too. So, please accept my apologies Mayor Castro.

At any rate, you can’t mispronounce social media. With all that is going on, each panelist provided their own insights on its usage, its impact on what they’ve done and its role in the future.

For example, when discussing how to create a social media campaign both Gaby and Victor discussed how they were able to use specific services that send out mass messages to their followers/members. It saves time and still allows for one-on-one interaction.

Victor specifically spoke about how he and his colleagues coordinated the walkouts at California universities this past year using social media, and Gaby shared how on her long walk to DC she and her fellow walkers were able to share what they saw along the way by uploading pics to their blog and Twitter and Facebook pages.

Kemi discussed how as the co-founder of an online site that was created to be a safe haven for undocumented students, she and her peers decided it best to disallow negative comments which were more hateful than anything.

Mayor Castro (yes, he still participated after I mispronounced his name) shared that in his political campaigns while they do use Facebook and Twitter to reach supporters, they also use text messaging. He said that his staff realized that there was a huge segment of the voters who still did not know how to use Twitter or Facebook but understood texting. Using all three, along with the usual phone calls, flyers, emails and face-to-face ensured all voters were being reached.

Being a seasoned blogger/researcher, Andrea cautioned everyone to be skeptical when reading anything online – Latina Lista excluded of course. She told the audience that it’s always wise to not only consider the source but to have a balanced perspective which means to read blogs from both the left and the right. In doing so, it helps to make for more informed opinions.

Rounding out the panel, technology reporter Omar Gallaga shared his latest reporting about the future of on what devices people will be using social media.

According to Omar, mobile phones are in the hands of more Latinos than broadband connections are in Latino households, a.k.a. computers. The future of going online may not be happening as much connected from a laptop as with a mobile phone.

Yet, is the experience as complete as being connected to broadband?

It’s a question that is quickly evolving and one that holds a lot of promise for a new generation that is already here and impatient to connect with one another.


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  • Denise Pernick
    July 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Thank you again for moderating the town hall. It was a great success for Lideres. I added your blog to our website.
    Thank you

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