MIAMI--I'm not in Latin America yet, but I've certainly gotten greater exposure to the region in the last 24 hours than I had in the 33 years prior.
Since I arrived here last night, I have met with local leaders, a former government minister, top nongovernmental leaders, and students. I've had the opportunity to hear speeches from Microsoft officials, a Brazilian mayor, and an Argentinian senator. It's all part of a Microsoft conference of Latin American politicians and non-governmental agency executives known as the Government Leaders Forum.
Among the people I caught up with were these Brazilian techies who I wrote about two years ago when they won Microsoft's Imagine Cup. They've taken their invention to use technology to guide the visually impaired and are starting a company to bring it to market, with $500,000 in funding from the Brazilian Government.
It was great to meet them in person to follow-up on their story and I look forward to posting more about their endeavors.
I've been meeting and listening more than writing today, but that should change Friday. I'm scheduled to cover two speeches by Bill Gates, one at the Government Leaders Forum and another at a meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank.
I'm also traveling to a senior center here in Miami, part of the city's effort to close its own digital divide. I will have more to say about Miami and its projects, which include wiring the city's parks, putting computers in senior centers as well as a program known as Rights of Passage that offers all sixth grade public school students the opportunity to earn a free computer for their family.
But first, I'm off to experience another important part of Latin American culture--Cuban food.