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Beyond the Classroom.

July 8th, 2011

by Luna Kalas, Bosnia

Although it is amazing to have an opportunity to listen and work with people like Betty Bigombe, Álvaro de Soto and Anthony Wanis-St. John, it is even a greater opportunity to have dinner with them!

Among the numerous options IPSI offers during the symposium, one of the best is the opportunity for students to go to dinner with the speakers they would like to meet in a more intimate environment, and I sincerely thank them for that. So, off I went on Wednesday night with Betty, Álvaro and Anthony and a couple of students that share my interests to an ancient restaurant in which the phrase Bologna la grassa really comes to mind.

Ms. Betty Bigombe negotiated with Joseph Kony. Mr. Álvaro de Soto negotiated a peace agreement in El Salvador; worked in the Middle East and has spent most of his professional life in UN, an organization that I admire and question very passionately! We spent time talking about a variant of the TRC in the Balkans. Mr Anthony Wanis-St. John, an amazing negotiator and a teacher, went from one place to another to help people find solutions to their problems. He told me something really valuable: sometimes you run into people or collectives who will rather see both themselves and you sink, than to see you both win. And in this case, a negotiation process as we learn it in

schools simply isn’t applicable. Although quite a depressive statement, it gave a new color to my thoughts about the negative peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

These fantastic and inspiring individuals share a vision that connects them. But what connects them even more is their spontaneous approach to us, the students; their kindness, willingness to listen, their humor and their straightforwardness. I wish more people in peacemaking arena would keep this attitude.

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