Of Posters, Friends, and Narrow Alleys

G-Versity 2022 Workshop in Venice

Once in Venice, on my way to the annual workshop, it became clear that a common mapping app would not be very helpful. The too narrow streets, the too cluttered buildings, and the dungeon pattern displayed on my smartphone did not match very well. I arrived in Venice by train, with my trolley, a backpack and a big bag that made me a too large traveler in the packed city. I was traveling to join the annual G-Versity workshop for PhD students that would be held in Venice in the beginning of April 2022.

While I was wondering if I had got lost, I met two fellow PhD students who were just close by, visiting the city on the warm Sunday afternoon. They had arrived from Sweden, and I was very happy to see them again after many months. They steered me through the city to our workshop building, where we met other members of our network who had already arrived. These random meetings in corridors would happen more and more often until the day after, when almost all of us would gather for the poster presentation of our projects.

We are 15 PhD students, and very few of us had ever prepared a poster. In this case, the scientific poster was an A1 sheet of paper in which we had to present – in a detailed but not verbose way, with enough but not too many visuals – our research. Most of us had prepared the poster at their hosting institutions, and we had many doubts about how to do it.

Monday came, and in the afternoon we had to prepare the poster session, attaching our posters from all over Europe in one room: there were projects on inter-group relationships between non-Romani people and Romani people, LGBQ pathways to leaderships, inclusive decision-making in organizations. When I met and spoke about the posters with the others, however, I noticed my worries were already downsized by discussing with my peers. And the poster presentation went great. The students stood by their posters while supervisors and collaborators walked around the room, asking questions, and engaging in discussions about the research. I actually had fun, and even with face masks, we were happy to interact with each other again. At a certain point we all started to walk around the room, looking at the posters of our friends.

I liked those first days for many reasons. I liked the enthusiasm of meeting the others again, I enjoyed engaging with their ideas. Some problems were not as big as I had envisioned them, and they softened when I got together with my friends. Despite some worries, not feeling alone sometimes has a unique power.

During the following days, we followed workshops, lessons, we discussed, drank (I’d like to mention Spritz), crossed the Academia bridge at twilight, ate fried seafood close to St. Mark’s square. I saw my scientific project with new eyes, and I was challenged by the perspectives of others. Our posters are still on the wall. And here I am, writing during the last day of the workshop, after an intense week. The sun is shining bright in Venice, as another lesson is about to start.

3 thoughts on “Of Posters, Friends, and Narrow Alleys”

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