Buongiorno, Cyber World!

Although I consider myself to be more than average when it comes to technology use, and Web surfing in particular, today marks a new day for me: today I post my very first blog entry!  Oh boy, here it goes . . .

As a polyglot I am tempted to type my first entry in a mélange of various languages to keep you searching for new words or phrases in this post.  On second thought it may be best to engage you step by step — one foreign word at a time.  To get us started down “Le Boulevard Globale,” here’s my International Fun Fact of the week: Multilingual speakers out-number monolingual speakers in the world’s population.  If you take a look at this link, you may be as surprised as I was.

At Blackboard alone, one can roam the halls of our headquarters in Washington, DC on any given day and hear people speaking Chinese, French, Japanese, Farsi, Italian, Arabic and much more.  We are a global company, offering solutions that translate beyond the English-speaking world.  I’m reminded of a Blackboard travel experience in Ecuador I had not too long ago, with two very different personalities that I think accurately represent the spirit of some Blackboarders.  Let me paint you a picture:

An American from the state of Utah, who lived extensively in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish; a Peruvian-American salesman from Miami who speaks Spanish, a little Portuguese and English with a Midwestern accent (thanks to his wife); and me, an Italian-Iranian raised in Washington, DC, and fluent in both these guys’ languages.  We were traveling to meet prospective clients in Guayaquil and then to the renowned Inter-American Organization for Higher Education OUI event in Loja, Ecuador — a trip that should have been easy, effective, and fun, given our very diverse life experiences.  What was in store for us, however, could never have been imagined and we will never forget it.

The morning of our flight to Loja, news headlines informed us that an Iberia flight had crashed on the Quito tarmac, closing off the airport and causing major delays at the Guayaquil airport, from which we were supposed to take a simple 30-minute flight down to the valley of Loja.  The three of us quickly debated our next steps, and I was tricked into driving with them on what was supposed to be a three-hour roadtrip to Loja.  How could I have thought to miss out on all the fun, right?  Ay caramba!

Well, my dear readers, that three-hour trip turned into a 10-hour traverse down the Ecuadorean countryside.  We encountered what the three of us labeled a scene from an apocalypse.  From the winding, cross-lined roads, burning landfills and circling vultures to the evening fog that forbade us from driving faster than a turtle on steroids to the pot holes that had us zig-zagging for hours . . .

It’s a miracle our hip bones are still connected to our backbones. The echoes of my screaming from the backseat of our vehicle, as we swerved to avoid hitting roaming cows and motorists, is surely engrained in my colleagues’ memories.

Thankfully, our trip resulted in a very positive result: a partnership with the Universidad Espiritu Santo, as the school licensed the Blackboard Learning System (see the formal and humorous announcement here).

What we at Blackboard do to fulfill our mission (“Educate.  Innovate.  Everywhere.”) and engage with clients around the world is almost limitless, wouldn’t you say?

(Turns out, on that trip we missed by a week the headline which succeeded our travels: “Powerful Aftershock Rocks Ecuador-Peru Border.”)

So, my point in this my first blog post, if there still is one that needs to be stated explicitly: Keep traveling, dreaming, connecting with people.  In our contemporary, globalized world, you have the ability to much more easily learn a new language, virtually visit a new country, meet new people.  Go surf the virtual ocean we call the Internet!

Until our paths cross, hopefully at BbWorld Europe in Manchester, UK, I say, “a bientôt.”

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