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

Our IC program relied on a question: who are we? What triggered this IC program was the will to increase the connections between DESIS members and access the richness of DESIS Labs experiences and activities. Therefore, the program aimed to reinforce the knowledge building/ exchange processes among DESIS members as one of its main issues. We remembered in the last Assembly all different activities developed in this direction. Something similar will probably remain an essential and regular activity for a network with so many and diversified, 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 last one, 4). 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, 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, on which 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 the interest of two students (Ingrid and Matheus) who have been very active in the last two years, working closely with us in the DESIS coordination.

And the COVID-19. Yes, the last year of my coordination was signed by the pandemic. We promptly organized activities and we remembered them in the Assembly. But, one activity seemed 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 difficult moment, and listen about the challenges you were facing in your contexts, in your labs, and shared mine. It was so simple and powerful and, for me, the answer to the initial question in the IC program was there: we were together, we were being DESIS.

Carla Cipolla