Being a Bolognesi
Conflict management is a discipline that is taught, and practiced, at SAIS. Late Friday night, I saw it in action.
On Friday afternoon, SAIS hosted an appertitivo at the school’s cafe, an opportunity for all of us to meet. The appertitivo began at 4, which led into groups of us leaving for dinner. Most places in the town were closed, or wouldn’t take our giant group of 25 people, so a number of us ended up eating at a pizza place.
After dinner a group of SAISers met up at the Irish pub on Via Zamboni. The meet up was supposed to be centered on soccer, but few actually watched the game. At the pub I met more SAISers for the first time. Running into intelligent and fascinating people is turning from the exception to the rule, as was the case at the bar.
Quick side note, I will continue to describe other people in my program in general terms. I know I probably wouldn’t want others to write about me, so I’ll extend them the courtesy.
The group’s intelligence was equalled by their generosity. Being at the Irish pub, a SAISer bought rounds of Jameson, three to be exact, and other SAISer bought tequila for the group — far from Irish, but as effective as Jameson.
Deep into my free drinks, I looked up from the bar to see a SAISer speaking with a woman who had come up to buy a drink. She was droning on about how she came from the same region of the world as my friend, and to be clear she initiated the conversation. I didn’t catch the conversation, but I saw enough to know that it was a joking disagreement. As soon as my friend innocuously touched her arm, her boyfriend zipped across the bar, raising his voice and asking why he was touching her arm. My friend explained the joking conversation they had and the two guys quickly embraced in a hug, and the boyfriend bought a round for my friend.
For the next twenty minutes the new friends carried on, sharing bro hugs and buying each other drinks. At one point, the girlfriend was explaining, within earshot of her boyfriend and my friend, that the two had been together for three years. Shortly after that she wanted to leave the bar. My friend turned to her and sarcastically said, “we’ve been together for a good five minutes now, I think he wants to stay with me!”
That is one of the reasons why I love traveling. I’d say that out of all of the altercations that I’ve seen in the U.S. that involves alcohol and someone else’s girlfriend more than 90 percent of them ends in a disagreement of some sort. Nine percent ends amicably, and one percent ends with the male parties involved becoming friends.
I could get used to that kind of camaraderie.
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