A little over six years ago I joined the ranks of Global Voices (GV) in a volunteer capacity. 32 months ago (in October 2014) I received an invitation to attend the sixth citizen media summit to be held in Cebu (Philippines). It would be the first time I’d meet other volunteers, editors and the Core Team for the sole purpose of discussing matters related to GV during the course of one week!
Quite frankly I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had met with a few GVers in my hometown, never more than two at a time. This might seem unusual considering the amount of time we spend in contact preparing (writing, re-writing and fact-checking) the contents we regularly post on the site.
Upon arrival in Cebu I met GVers from different continents just in the baggage claim area of the airport and began to bond instantly. At the hotel, in a crowded elevator I distinctly recall seeing Ellery‘s (Advox Director) face for the first time − we had been working on a few pieces and one presentation in the weeks prior to the event. We could not shake hands or hug because the lift was full, in fact, she could not get inside and had to wait for the next one but she definitely noticed my eagerness to say hi and just smiled and mouthed “I know”. That’s when I knew the summit was going to be a far-out experience.
Having the opportunity to interact with my fellow GVers, to sit with them in the same room, to listen to their testimonies, had a profound effect on me basically because it made me realise how much we are alike despite our different backgrounds, and how passionate we are about telling a story without the usual bias and agenda you undoubtedly find in mainstream media, and yes, how difficult we find it to explain to people around us about the volunteer work we do for GV.
At one point I exchanged a few words with Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of GV. At first I thought I had to introduce myself but then he said “I know who you are, I read the pieces you write” so we just took a picture (at my request) and chatted for a short moment.
When you are a regular blogger (or not-so-regular) you usually think no one will ever read your posts, let alone remember your name. This time I found out Ethan (a brilliant scholar and visionary) had at least sometime read something I wrote, which reminded me why I do it in the first place. From my perspective, all bloggers will feel somewhat satisfied if at least one person appreciates their post and reflects or comments earnestly on it.
These words with Ethan, albeit brief, provided me with a motivation boost to keep on blogging and collaborating with GV − who knows who other admired characters might read my writing the next time? What might I learn from them? Citizen journalism and the defence of freedom of expression and online rights had already been in my basket of topics but they became a priority in my to-do-list after my first summit.
It’s been two and a half years since the summit in Cebu took place. Last week I received an invitation −much appreciated− to attend the next one in Colombo (Sri Lanka) this autumn and that is why I find myself delighted and eager to see some familiar faces as well as new ones, excited to share comments and visions about our organisation with the only ones who believe as vehemently as I in the work we do and its relevance to the world we are currently living in.
It is quite possible it will be a different experience altogether (it’s improbable we’ll start with a conga line!) but I can anticipate we’ll make the most of it and will get to learn and materialise our exchanges to the benefit of GV and its projects.
To my fellow GVers who might be reading these words let me just say: I’m sure it’ll be a complete and utter privilege, can’t wait to meet you there! If this will be your first time, just sit back and enjoy the ride as this will be the experience of a lifetime!
This post was originally published in the author's personal blog.