by Sascha Nanlohy, Australia

The Southern African philosophy of Ubuntu is based on a simple premise. A person is a person through other people. The IPSI symposium I believe is based on a similar premise that a peacemaker becomes a peacemaker through other peacemakers. It is about the speakers, the staff and most importantly your fellow participants.

Yesterday I held an unconference. An unconference is essentially an opportunity for students to tell people about their experiences and share knowledge. For me it was about starting an NGO. My idea was that I would talk about my experience of starting an NGO. What I didn’t want however, was for people to come expecting the answers and expecting me to make a presentation. Simply because I didn’t know what people wanted. So I decided to make it an open forum designed for people to ask their questions about what they wanted to do.What happened was for me so much better. I was asked questions about what I was doing. What I realized was “I didn’t have the answers” and I should have them. Two staff members, both of whom had started their own organizations, talked about how they had experienced the same problems and what they had done. In the end I don’t know how much if at all others had gained from the twenty-five or so minutes I spent struggling to answer how my organization was going to be sustainable? How we are going to achieve our goals?

Learning doesn’t stop, even when you’re the person trying to give the lesson. When you’re a social entrepreneur your dealing with the unknown and you make so many mistakes. You need people to show you the traps you cannot see. IPSI Bologna is a hot house for social entrepreneurship, the most talented people with a shared passion sharing their wisdom and experience. I can say, that after two and a half weeks in this completely unique environment there is no better place to not have the answer, because more likely than not it is sitting in the head of the person sitting next to you.