Big groups make me feel uncomfortable; they are intimidating and it is easy to get “lost in translation”. The bigger the group, the more face to face contact is jeopardized. This is my second Global Voices summit and, in the beginning, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the group remains the same. It takes a moment to adjust to all the people, the different languages, the many things to do, things to say and things to listen to. But then, slowly, the magic begins. Figures emerge out of the blur, shapes get more specific, colors glow and sharpen. Each participant appears in her or his identity, diversity, specificity. It feels like a fantastic fireworks display. You begin to discover that every person in Global Voices is special and comes with her or his story to add to this community of unique voices.
Time is a precious ally when we try to better get to know people and that is why I felt lucky, in the Philippines as well as in Sri Lanka, to be able to spend some time with a smaller group after the summit. Not only is it a way to discover more about the summit host country, but it is also a way to have more time to exchange moments with other GVers. People open up, share experiences outside of session rooms and share everyday life together for a couple of days. We had a fantastic experience with our group labeled “FD1″ by the tour manager, visiting Sigiriya, Kandy and Galle with our guide Waruna. This group included people from Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Brazil, Chile [Mapuche], Macedonia, India, Tajikistan, Lebanon, Spain and France. For the people who welcomed our group during the visits, we seemed like quite a funny family. Diverse in sex, age and color, and smiling, asking people about human rights issues and laughing together as if we were long-time friends.
This trip allowed me to get a closer look at all of the faces of the GVers who shared this experience by my side. Each person has its own way of being beautiful, expressive and alive, so I started snapping portraits of them with my camera. I hope that — more than words ever could — this series of portraits expresses what I feel about the Global Voices family.
I also believe that we all have our internal playlist. Music somehow defines a piece of what we are. For sure we had a playlist to illustrate our Sri Lankan trip – music to accompany our journey, songs that we wanted to share. Here is a medley of all of our crazy vibes. Now that you have looked us in the eye, are you ready to dance?