by Sonia Bianchi

As we start the second week of the IPSI Bologna Symposium a week in retrospect feels more like a month already! With a packed schedule, days and now weeks seemingly fly by in a blur of learning, applying what we’ve learned to simulations and debriefing as a group afterward. With a focus on conflict prevention and mediation our first days were filled with lectures from Dr. W. I. Zartman, Dr. Francis Deng and Dr. Hopman. With a strong theory background in place we started with practical mediation and facilitation training provided by Search for Common Ground’s Michael Shipler and Rajendra Mulmi.

Starting with an identity exercise and then moving right into specifics for meditations and conflict analysis, we covered a lot of ground within two days. From learning the intricacies of identifying participants to understanding actors underlying interests the tools passed on to us were put to the test in a later simulation. A highlight of the day was definitely the chance to apply all that we’d learned to a scenario based in Sierra Leone. We were asked in groups to come up with a plan of action for relieving tensions between the community, a police force and a group of ex-combatants. Seeing everyone’s innovative approaches to a
common problem was very inspiring!

Creativity and innovation is not surprising considering the dynamic group of participants present at this year’s conference. Combine that with the surrounding city of Bologna and inspiration is boundless. As participants explored the city, region and country this weekend I’m sure that more creativity this week is inevitable!