I recently returned to Chicago after spending three weeks in Brazil. While I did get to spend some time relaxing on the beach, it certainly wasn’t all vacation.
Here at Table XI, we’ve been developing an International Exchange Program where developers can travel abroad to work with and learn from software experts all over the globe. For our people, this is a really unique opportunity to learn about other cultures, pair with amazing people, and connect to the broader software community outside of Chicago. While visiting, we always try to engage in the local community, actively participating in regional conferences and other community outreach programs.
Last year my colleague, Bradley Schaefer, spent some time in Costa Rica with Pernix facilitating their Global Code Retreat day. In 2014, while visiting Brazil's Ruby Conf, I had the privilege of spending time with Plataformatec in São Paulo. You might know them for their popular gems Devise and Simple Form, and recognize several of their employees from the Rails Core team.
For two weeks, I hung out and worked out of their office and attending RailsConf BR. I can’t begin to describe how generous and welcoming the team at Plataformatec was. They would always make sure to invite me along for lunch and to hang out after work for a couple cervejas. While I had learned some basic Portuguese before my trip and was able to get by just fine, I am nowhere near fluent, and can hold only the most basic of conversations, any time I was around, they would do their best to speak in English, or at least translate for me when I had clearly lost track of the conversation.
Every Tuesday the office hosts “hacking night”, where someone gives a technical presentation. The first week was great because Lucas Mazza was practicing his talk on Devise internals that he would be giving later that week at Windy City Rails in Chicago—meaning that it was in English. The next week was a little trickier when Bernardo Chaves gave a talk on Postgres tuning. Fortunately, there was a lot of code on the screen, so I was able to understand parts of it, and even gain a little knowledge from the presentation.
Speaking of presentations, there was also the conference. It kicked off with George Guimarães’s keynote on dogmatism. The presentation was in Portuguese, but slides were in English, and I had been hanging out with him enough and discussing his talk, that while challenging, I was able to understand the basics. After that talk, I discovered that they offered a translation service where you could grab some headphones and the Portuguese talks would be translated to English, and the English talks would be translated to Portuguese in real time. While I would have preferred subtitles in order to help me get a better grasp on the sounds of Portuguese, it’s a great detail that makes non-Portuguese speakers much more at home at the conference.
Many people assumed that because I had come from out of the country, I would be presenting. The primary organizer of the conference Akita has urged me to help spread the word back home in the States, and I can honestly say that I wholeheartedly endorse it. It’s a fun, engaging conference with a strong technical focus. I’m going to do my best to return next year.
I want to offer one more thanks to the guys at Plataformatec. I appreciate everything you did for me while I was there. I had a blast with you all. You are all welcome in Chicago and at the Table XI office (come join us for our free lunch!) Muito obrigado por tudo!