By Amy Thomas

The IPSI symposium has been the most engaging and innovative mixture of practitioners and academics I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. The ideas brought forth, and the community created has broken societal norms that drown out most international interactions.

Yet, the most notable experience throughout the three-week symposium has been watching the commonalities among those who have become involved in the peace building field—and wish to be involved in its future—rise to the surface.

Commonalities of endurance, empathy, burdens for the international community at large, and our local communities are among the connections I share with my fellow participants. These common features surpass ethnicity, race, gender, and age creating a system of trust, respect, and truth. While it is quite difficult to establish trust within three short weeks, I would say this group of dedicated peace builders has managed to do just that.

While the theories, case studies, and applicable knowledge we each glean from the passionate and intelligent speakers each day enhances our intellectual and practical capacity as individual peace builders; it is this sense of commonality and community that has proven to be the true impact of the symposium. The concept that one is not alone in this daunting task of pursuing peace and a life of service to others is what creates the interconnectivity necessary for sustainable peace.

Throughout the sessions, the concept that each person is but a small piece of the larger, ever-changing puzzle of peace building became increasingly evident. A small piece that seems minute, and its role is oft filled with rife and frustration as it moves closer to final picture, only to be flung back to the outskirts to restart its small efforts once more. Yet when it is reframed, and one introduces a new lens, its place appears to have a renewed direction. Such did the symposium offer to its peace builders from twenty different countries, in the creation of a small but powerful community.