My story with Global Voices started with Lingua, translating posts from English to Spanish with the help of Juan, the editor in charge for translations in Spanish. I remember choosing posts from countries I’d always had an attraction to, and then reading and visiting blogs from all over, clicking and letting myself go.
At the time, the political discussion in Venezuela was, as it still is, deeply divided, but beyond the divisions and the conflict, Venezuela was still, to me, this colorful piece of land where so many things were possible. Magic realism has always been part of our complex reality, in fact. But this was rarely seen in the media (both national and international). Our daily bread was full of politics. Chavez for breakfast, conflict for coffee.
Yet, the Venezuelan blogosphere was blooming with all kinds of new things. A difficult space to read, of course, but with lots of stories to tell. I also remember feeling frustrated at the time not only with the political discussion in media, but also with the covering of culture, which has always been so important to me. The line separating culture and show-business was growing thinner, and all our conflicts of identity could be seen between the lines. I wished strongly for new ways to describe and approach the country, its history, and its questions. And then I thought of the Venezuelan blogosphere and the stories it told. I thought the country could be seen differently if you read its blogosphere, and so I thought again of Global Voices.
Writing, explaining, humanizing.
I wrote to Eddie Avila to ask him if I could try to participate as an author, and he, kind as he has always been, welcomed me to the author’s group. My first post as an author was about a crazy character I read about in a professor’s blog. A writer who enjoyed impersonating other writers, mocking editors and politicians, and writing anthologies of poets that he had invented himself. I had a blast writing about it, and it felt great to do something about this frustration for the lack of stories of a Venezuela that is rarely seen.
Politics and the massive and larger than life figure of the ex-president is almost unescapable, of course. But I made it my mission to draw a different portrait of the country I got to see when I grew up. Since that post, I’ve been given the chance to show how heterogeneous and mixed Venezuela can be. I have written about its African heritage, about its art, about its literature, about its street artists.
And it has been great. I love the opportunity that GVO gives to change the mindset of people, to open the scope, and also, to open cultural horizons.
This is what Global Voices does, and what I love about it. They humanize regions and people that have been made invisible by powerful systems for a very long time. And I’m not alone in trying to paint a different portrait of one part of the world. This is a community full of ideals and goals in that sense. People struggling to open different spaces and to bring more and more ways of joining the global conversation. My time with these people have been full of discoveries. Projects, groups, discussions, stories. This community shows us all the ways in which we are connected.
In times like ours, when connections are impossible to ignore anymore, the work of this community is not only wonderful, it is necessary. Global Voices is, to me, a place where you can learn that you can be part of an idea of a nation, and that you’re also a citizen of the world. It can make you realize the illusion of disconnection, and also the capriciousness of country and identity.
These people work hard to connect the very old with the very new: online social media and people’s aspirations, Twitter and social movements, new technologies and stories. Our journey has been unique, and it will continue to grow, surely, despite the difficulties that always come when trying to do what is needed. And so, people will keep telling stories, and cultures will continue to mix and mingle. I have the feeling that we’ll remain there, doing our best to keep doing what we do. Advocating, opening spaces, explaining, humanizing. The world will not stop talking… and we’ll be listening.
Thanks to you and many other GVers from Latin America I could read many interesting stories from the region on topics covering literature and culture.
I wish there could be more exchange of cultures, debates, celebrations together. GV summit is one of the opportunities – where I met you first.
Looking forward to creating more bridges and bonds.
I’ve always loved the idea of cross-cultural stories Rezwan – we had a working group focusing on that in the last summit. Worth trying again? Latin American – South Asian bridge, anyone?
I’m completely up for it! I remember encouraging people in every Summit to write more about culture and Rezwan was always there as well. We should talk more about cultures and the way they exchange. Intercultural contacts are all over. Let’s do it!