Global Voices lifestyle

I was planning to structure this post better. I waited for it. I wanted to rethink. I was wrong. I should have written it just as I arrived from Cairo to keep it fresh because what I wanted to say stays the same. So if you apologize me, I will basically use my notes from the diary I kept with myself on the plane and bus back and try to wrap it all up nicely. You see, I joined Global Voices Online after the GV Summit in Budapest. I started translating the content to Polish and very rarely post in English too. GV stayed always slightly in the background due to my daily workload, nonetheless, community spirit was there from the very first group e-mail of warm welcome. What I am describing below was not triggered by my trip to Cairo – just reinforced. I had the privilege to be invited to Cairo to join other 13 GVers in Blogging the Future Seminar and my perception of Global Voices mission, dreams and really not only proved to be very true, but also triggered certain emotional and well, I guess intellectual consequences. I was coming back to the UK writing:

‘I was packing with heavy heart because […] GV means incredible people! atmosphere of understanding and connection which I have experienced in very few places so far! It almost physically hurts to go back to cold reality. I know I want to do more for GV. […] This lack of rush and this common super-understanding  – I cannot even imagine how it must have felt to attend the Summit. I simply have tears in my eyes that I am saying good bye to those guys…

Those people have common goals ok, great skills, access to different cultures but most of all great respect towards themselves, others, other cultures, behaviours, differences and all of the middle ground which keeps them connected. And most of all, they accelerate and bring out the best of what I represent and who I am myself – I see myself differently in thew mirror now. Shall I compare it to…utopia?! The ideal mixture of the place (Cairo) and people (GV) yes – but it is the people who decide how we remember places. The sense of belonging – not to a group, minority, culture or nation – but to a common mindset, common mission (the unspoken and the obvious!), of values and views with few mutual commitments. Constant and overwhelming spirit of self-respect. Something so indescribable that one cannot really comprehend unless she or he actually joins, does it, becomes a part of it.

I have experienced it off line now, but it works just the same on-line when we are all at home, on our mailing list, blogs and other presences. Without borders in each and every sense really. It’s nice to meet up. It’s ecstatic. Nevertheless, the spirit comes from, lives in and will develop in work we are doing on GV platforms and in other places. There is a mission for us in each space – whatever that space might be or become. I am sure of it. Based on the self-regulatory nature of blogosphere and our cautious attempt to stay neutral we take what is best of it and shape it into almost a utopia of a community of free thinking people with their own strong voice and ability to listen, to stay positive toward everyone.

There is a meaning for us there. I am confident we all and each of us in our own way carries it forward, peacefully and constructively. Here in Cairo, we talked about our lives, relationships, realities but it was our current presence (here and now), our current voice that mattered. I was really privileged to be among those people, just as I am to be a part of Global Voices. And now we are all going back to our lives, our homes, our friends, our jobs. But the realization of this belonging and of the fact that GV is not only voluntary work but also a lifestyle is something that we take home, that stays with us. And I am sure that those who could not make it this time would agree. Each of us is skilful in something. We share those abilities contributing to the common knowledge pool,  we listen and understand the global world so I really hope that one day the global community will understand Global Voices.’

I still agree with those notes. You see, at the university, we used to learn the text of US Constitution (American Studies). And while reciting ‘Congress shall make no law…’ we would take ten post-its and write one type of a crucial type of freedom on each (incl. freedom from and to do smth). I  put:

freedom to think, to choose people I live with, to travel, to speak my mind, to eat what I want, to read what I want, to not to practice one religion, to leave my room, to study what I want, to skip a lecture

The teacher would ask us to order them in order of importance. I would put them this way

freedom to choose people I live with (1), to think (less important, 2), to speak my mind (3), to not to practice one religion (4), to read (5), to study (6), to leave room (7), to travel (8), to eat (9) and finally to skip class (10)

Then she would ask us to give her the tenth one and imagine our lives without it. Shit! Going to each and every class for me would be HELL! And even thinking if it hurts. Then she would ask for next one, and the next one…giving us a chance to change priorities. How would you feel if left with only one post-it?

Global Voices is aimed at and not rarely based on people who had to do this exercise in practice, sadly. We all work together and listen to others. We all have our stories of breach of basic human rights. There are also people who do not care about basic human rights. There are people who live of actually disrespecting those. We all know it but not necessarily have to accept it. There are people who spend their lives committing themselves to causes. There are people who cannot do that. Here comes the web, freedom of speech in its best form. And here come its enemies. And…here: then and now comes the opportunity to do something from home. It’s not easy – you might have to spend one more hours blogging, instead of watching evening film, and no one will pay you for it. Yes. But trust me, belonging to Global Voices not only actions actual changes by simple work in front of PC, but it also comes with huge amount of gratitude from the community of people who do the same!

It comes with a lifestyle and changes you for better; for ever; and for everyone just as much as for yourself.


  • medea

    I think you’ve put it beautifully. I came back home feeling refreshed, and so happy to have been together with educated, cultured, well spoken people who are open to others, their ideas and points of view. I felt as if I belong somewhere, that there is a family of friends out there who “get” me. Conversation flowed, plans flourished and new ideas bloomed from the meeting of minds.That’s also what happened at the summit: this is something we do because we love doing it. This is something we do because we feel it needs to be done. This is our vocation, I guess, and meeting with others who also share this brings forth a feeling of fellowship I´ve never felt before, outside of GV

  • eddie ávila

    Nice. It was great to meet you off-line too…trust me, there will be more of these lifestyle experiences down the road.I had *no* clue volunteering for GV back in 2005 would bring me to where I am now.I wish everyone in the world had the same opportunity, and it would make the world a much more reachable place.It is so hard to put the experience into words…I think if it would be possible to explain, then GV would have hundreds of volunteers for each country and hundreds to translate to every language on the planet.

  • sylwiapresley

    Thank you for your thoughts. I actually feel bad sometimes that I cannot do as much as I could and I really look up to rest of you;)It was great to meet you (again) 😉

  • Georgia

    Sylwia -Having been a member of Global Voices since 2005 there’s a lot about our community that I take for granted. So reminders of what unique and delightful community this is are always very special to me, especially when they’re so wonderfully heartfelt and beautifully written.Many thanks.

  • Paula

    Hello SylwiaI felt exactly this way in Budapest, when I met a large group of GV people for the first time in my life – I wanted to cry when parting came and wished we had a month or a year together. Second time in Cairo felt special too – but differently, I knew we will all meet again, sooner or later and recharge our GV batteries. Every time is special!Holland then? :)BestPaula

  • lasto adri

    I love ur words Syl.. it’s exactly what I felt before and after meeting you..I feel privileged and blessed living a life alot of my folk here know nothing about..Now I can hear them laugh at my “strange” interests to them, and laugh between me and myself.. for somewhere I do have “my friends” why really understand what does it mean to belong to GVLove all,XOXOEman

  • sylwiapresley

    Jeremy: I am glad you like it;)Georgia: thank you!Paula: oh, yes, I am booking my trip to Amsterdam tomorrow (this time bringing a 3.5 year old blogger with me;)). Wanna join?;)Lasto: you are a wonderful person, it was a pleasure to meet you and your great GV team, as well as see your country. You are so kind, helpful and polite – imagine, Ahmed even apologized in the name of your nation for the fact we were ‘kidnapped’ on camels;) Whereas I think we actually had fun…

  • Solanasaurus

    I’m in constant awe of everyone at Global Voices and full of admiration for the courage, warmth and friendliness on display. People in this community are brilliant and thoughtful, and I like to think of what we do as a small microcosm for how we wish peoples of the world (and within our own countries) would relate to one another: with curiosity, solidarity and understanding. It’s amazing how easy it is to create friendships with totally different people, as soon as you work to build something together. Don’t you sometimes wonder what it will be like many years from now, when we can look back and talk about that thing we used to be involved in called Global Voices? Not too long ago, a former member of the community sadly passed away, and I was thinking a lot about the legacy that we will all leave behind us on the internet when we die. Not to be morbid, but I will be very proud of my small Global Voices footprint (except for the carbon footprint, of course, which is outrageous).

  • Jillian C. York

    Sylwia, we all completely understand (as you can see!) This is how I felt the very first time I met GVers at WeMedia Miami 2008! I hadn’t met a single one, but when they picked me up at the airport and I entered that room full of amazing people, I knew I was home. The same feeling a few months later in Budapest, and since then every time I’ve managed to crash on a GVer’s couch (Amira, Anas), or have a drink with a visiting GVer (Solana, David), or meet up again with GVers at conferences (the Miami crew), or this summer, work with several GVers at Berkman (Lokman, Rebekah, Ethan, etc).It is amazing to realize that there are people around the world who share the same mindset as you. That’s why I love GV.

  • sylwiapresley

    Solanasaurus: Indeed. It’s one of those projects where you cannot predict how quickly, but you know will be growing and growing and we will all be happy to be a part of.Jillian: I am glad you agree too;)Amira: waiting to meet you too:)

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