by Jenn Buxton, Canada

We are now almost done our second week, but what an awesome week it has been! I am in shock by how quickly the time is passing by. Soon I will be heading back to Canada with the memories of new friends and great speakers. Yesterday was one of the days that I will remember for the rest of my life. The Honorable Betty Bigombe, Minister of Sate For Water for the Government of Uganda joined us to discuss one of her most famous roles as the Chief Mediator between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and its leader, Joseph Kony.

However, the day started with Dr. Wilbur Perlot sending us off to continue our negotiations as the Government of Uganda and the World Bank. Things went very well, and it was interesting to hear how the different groups interacted with one another. The most impressive example being the group that not only reached an agreement, but achieved a three page document that was signed by all participants.

It was great to end the day with Uganda as a lead into Betty’s talk about her experiences working with the LRA in Northern Uganda. I was thankful that I was able to connect with her the night before at dinner, and I found it remarkable how welcoming and engaging she is. The experiences that she shared, during her time at the symposium, were very humbling, and reminded me why I am so interested in this field of work. The story of the seventeen-year-old boy turned soldier brought tears to my eyes, and I was hopeful that I could be a part of a better future for our world. After her brief talk we were split into groups to do a counter-factual as the Dutch government contemplating a funding proposal from Betty in the year 2004. I was part of the only group out of the six groups that decided to say “no” to her proposal, which was, as our group was to find out during the assessment, very brave. Overall, it was a great day, and I can’t wait for the next couple weeks.