by Charly Jaffe, United States of America

Last night when I called home, my mother asked what I had done today. “Just started a three day attempt at solving the Abkhazian-Georgian conflict,” I replied, “No big deal.” As I was handed my briefing packet this Monday morning, which was over twenty pages of press releases, news articles, and analysis, I couldn’t wait to begin. Scouring through the pages, I tried to pick out the most relevant information and analyze what it meant for my approach to the round table talks I was about to enter. It really did feel like an accurate portrayal of what the prenegotiation preparation period would feel like. There was a fair deal of missing information, something that, although frustrating, is a very real issue in negotiations. But this was only a taste of the frustration to come.

The complexity of our grievances and positions became clear before the negotiations began. We couldn’t even get topic names written down without argument. And after the talks commenced, every bit of headway was met with a piece of breaking news that thwarted the progress we had made. The complex nature of these talks were both frustrating and enlightening.

After the long day of simulating, I was lucky enough to have a speaker dinner with the Julia Szedga and Sara Shokravi from LINC and gain some insight into the creation of these simulations. They explained the lengthy process of not only crafting the complex details of a simulation, but creating entire countries and economies as well. It was like I was listening to a real live ‘peace nerd’ version of Inception, not just solving conflict but designing them as well. And as Cameron Chisholm, the President of IPSI, proudly announced to all of us today, “We are all huge peace nerds.”