by Alex Hong, United States of America

We are in the second week of the IPSI Symposium in Bologna and have been given the opportunity to learn from Dr. Joyce Neu. With over twenty years of experience in mediation and conflict assessment, she talked about the process and gave us personal stories from her work in the field. She gave a realistic picture of what actually happens on the ground, which sometimes differs from the heady ideals that motivate peace building.

Today we did a simulation where different groups drafted a memo in a fictional scenario written by Dr. Neu. It’s been about nine days since the very first time we all met, and we were able to produce a document with detailed plans on starting a conflict mediation. Not only did we incorporate last week’s lessons on group dynamics and facilitation, we also used Dr. Neu’s information on creating comprehensive peace processes. She told us how the actual peace process needs to include everyone affected by the peace, which means bringing in women, youth, and other civil groups. This means thinking about gender inclusion as one of the basic components of any wider diversity in a peace process.

Our busy daily schedules make it hard to step back and look at what we’ve done so far. Collaborative projects are not easy. As a student, I have had group assignments where I’ve worked with fewer people, but which were much more difficult to get through. It’s a reflection on the fellow IPSI Symposium attendees and the lecturers that we’ve been able to accomplish what we have in the time we’ve been here.