I started writing from Kampala, Uganda, where Rebekah Heacock and I took a much-needed post-Summit respite. For both of us–and for many others–this was our third Global Voices summit, our third time getting together with this amazing group of human beings that has organically formed over the years from a small community of bloggers to an enormous and powerful network of bloggers, translators, journalists, filmmakers, and others passionate about storytelling. Because that’s what we are: storytellers.

Over the past five years since I joined Global Voices, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of these individuals all over the world. Not just at previous Summits in Budapest and Santiago but in their homes, at conferences all over the world, and at various parties…I’ve even hosted a few on my own couch. They have become some of my closest friends, colleagues, allies, and travel buddies.

But five years in, things have changed for me. I no longer write passionately and more than weekly for Global Voices. I’ve moved out of the region, and have stopped following blogs. Yes, I’m on the board of the organization now and so constantly involved, but I lack the connection that I used to have to the blogosphere…which is beginning to lack cohesion anyhow as people move on to Twitter and Facebook.

Still, that put me in a unique position this time around. Seen as a person of authority (ha!) by many newcomers, I was constantly stopped and asked for directions to this or that session, or for help in finding someone for a reimbursement or an aspirin. And as such (and also, in doing my job as volunteer rep to the board), I was able to ask each person I encountered what they thought of the Summit.

The reaction was so overwhelmingly positive. And it put a smile on my face and in my heart each time to hear these newcomers say how lucky they feel to be a part of it, or how special the community is.

There were gripes, sure, especially from some of the old hats who felt that GV has changed, become less radical, or is moving too close to the mainstream…but it is important to note that those gripers are still engaged, are still working to make Global Voices what they want it to be. That is, indeed, what’s so special about this phenomenon, this network: it is truly community-owned.

Lots of others have blogged about the sessions, outcomes, and discussions that took place at the Summit, so rather than attempt to sum it all up, I encourage you to read those.

Just as with each previous Summit I attended, I left this one feeling invigorated and newly excited about my work with GV. Though I may not be as active an author as I once was, I so value the friendships, the network, and the trust that this community gives me, and can only hope that I give as much in return.

Cheers, Global Voices! Nearly eight years in, you’re looking better than ever.