by Patrick Groeneveld-Meijer

My time at IPSI has been fantastic. It has been a true honor and inspiration to meet influential practitioners from around the world. When I originally looked at the list of speakers, Carolyn Edgerton’s name stood out to me. A fellow Canadian, Carolyn was a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and played a key role in prosecuting war criminals such as Slobodan Milosevich and Radovan Karadzic. The prospect of meeting a Canadian of this caliber led me to immediately signing up to introduce her. Little did I know, this original eagerness would later land me in a fateful test of mind over matter.

The night before this fateful introduction I prepared my notes. Having had the pleasure of spending time with Carolyn the previous Friday, I even sauced them up with some personal anecdotes and fun facts. In other words, I went to bed feeling prepared. However, the next day I would be feeling quite different.

I woke up on Monday morning feeling a little under the weather. While I would normally use this as an excuse to sleep in, I felt honor bound to introduce Carolyn and shoved myself out of bed. I zombie walked my way to the bathroom, threw water on my face and got ready to head out. To be frank I felt awful, and according to my roommate Will, I looked like it.

I somehow survived the walk to the Sarajevo Institute of Science and Technology and sat down next to Elina who asked me if I was okay. I replied that I felt a bit sick but mostly needed more coffee. At this point, Amy announced that it was time to start the session. I stuck a smile on my face, grabbed my notes and made my way to the front. It was on this walk that the first wave of stomach clenching hit me.

I maneuvered myself behind the podium and started speaking. To be frank, I don’t quite remember what I said. All I know is that it was straight from the heart because my mind was fully occupied trying not to projectile vomit all over one of my heroes. I survived the speech and made my way back to my seat. I got smiles, applause and a very kind response from Carolyn. However, I didn’t stay at my seat for long. I gave in to my angry stomach, ran to the bathroom and projectile vomited into the toilet. Needless to say, I did not return to class for the remainder of the session.

I learned two import lessons that day. First, when Sir Charles Lyell used the phrase “Mind over Matter,” in The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man, he truly meant it. Second, there is nothing better than an existential crisis to make for a good speech.