by Luis Pedro Fernández

Through the mystical streets and arcades of Bologna, I had the opportunity to share a Student-Speaker dinner with Dr. Terrence Hoppman while enjoying a great antipasti and Aperol Spritz. One of the most extraordinary opportunities at IPSI’s Symposium is the opportunity to share a dinner with the professor you feel most interested in learning about his professional life and experience.

As soon as I was notified my dinner was going to be the first one from all the participants, several themes to discuss came into my mind, almost as a Q&A interview. Questions that not only involved subjects of interest related to peace and security, but also about his life path. But these questions were not even necessary, because the dinner went even better than I had expected.

At the table, we were gladly accompanied by one of our staff members and began talking about his path in the International Relations as well as his studies abroad as a Fulbright Alumni. Once the conversation became deeper, we started talking about his several trips around the world, even to my home town, Guatemala city. He mentioned how he was able to, surprisingly, reunite with some of his friends in Guatemala, who were participating in Esquipulas II, – a peace and political-economic cooperation agreement between several Central-american states at that time. After this conversation, I was not planning to ask anything else, since I was enjoying his warm personality and personal stories.

Some of the most interesting subjects we talked during the dinner included his decision to not work for International Organizations, but to work as an external advisor. Professor Hoppman also emphasized his love to the Academia, and his interest in peace since he was a kid. He told us, he would lie that he was sick as a kid, just to watch T.V. whenever international decisions were being televised.

I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Hoppman what was the most shocking experience he had ever witnessed.  He began telling us a short story about his trip to Sri Lanka – around 8 years after several massacres. He told us, even though he did not actively participated in Sri Lanka’s peace works, he was well informed. While he was walking to one of the beaches, he saw an outstanding sunset; it was in the same area as several human clothes and shoes on the sand from the victims of the massacre that had been committed. The clothes had yet to be cleaned up.

As he was explaining his shock, I could see how he transported his mind to that scenario. His story made me realize how people like him, and every other member of IPSI share a commitment to peace from different aspects and particular concerns. His stories increased my respect and admiration for professionals involved in international conflict resolution.

By the end of the night, after walking together a few blocks, I could only reflect on this experience, and am grateful for IPSI and Professor Hoppman’s increasing my faith in humanity and peace.