(Written by Carla Cipolla, DESIS International Coordinator from 2017 to 2020)

The next DESIS Assembly, to be held on December 9th 2020 is the end of a journey of 4 years as International Coordinator (IC), on which I have learned a lot, with a great team (first Rita and Luisa and now Ingrid and Matheus) and with the ICC (International coordination committee) and, last but not least, with you all. Extraordinary meetings and experiences together. 

Very exciting to be part of DESIS Network, with so many and diversified DESIS Labs around the world. There were so many activities and experiences, I hope to celebrate with you in the Assembly (always struggling with time zones, we tried to find the best moment as possible for all).

Our IC program relied on a straightforward question: who are we? What triggered this IC program was my will to connect with other members, to connect with the richness of DESIS Labs experiences and activities, that I felt as inaccessible at that time. The program, therefore, aimed to reinforce the knowledge building/ exchange processes among DESIS members as one of the main issues. We did different activities in this direction, and we will remember them in the Assembly. Probably, something similar will remain an essential and regular activity for a network with such diversified and dynamic nodes: create invitations for us all to gather, discuss and… celebrate.  

And when I express this (very personal) will for celebrations, I consider that in parallel, something more interesting started to happen in DESIS than knowledge exchange. I’ve tried to observe the signs. 

One sign of it was in the DESIS Assemblies, i.e., how the interactions between us in the Assembly changed over the years (I have organized three before, and with this next one, it will be four). The last one in Bogotá was a workshop, around a new idea for DESIS. It was creative and so many promising ideas emerge (some of them now in action).  

Or when colleagues brought (and are continuously bringing) current societal or environmental issues to be discussed in DESIS, or thinking on new directions for the network, reflecting about its past and future (many initial DESIS labs have completed ten years now) or organizing events.

Or now, these recent three workshops with DESIS Students, very inspiring conversations took place, with new possibilities for us all, students and professors. It was very motivating to hear how students are curious about DESIS, and also the interest of two students (Ingrid and Matheus) who have been very active in the last two years, working closely to us in the DESIS coordination.

And the COVID-19. Yes, the pandemic arrived in the last year of my coordination. We promptly organized activities, and we will remember them in the Assembly. But, one activity seemed to be very powerful: we organized a conversation in April 2020, the first after Covid-19, that gathered more than 100 participants. When the cameras switched on, I saw you all in this challenging moment, and I listen about the challenges you were facing in your contexts, in your labs. It was so simple and powerful for me, and the question of my IC program was there: we were together, we were being DESIS.

See you in the Assembly!

Carla Cipolla