“E-Team,” a documentary about Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert and his team filming war crimes in Syria and Libya, was screened on campus April 15 and was followed by a question and answer session.
Bouckaert was a scholar in residence sponsored by the Kutler Center and spoke to journalism, AP Human Geography, AP Environmental Science, French V, Social Psychology, business, leadership and philosophy classes about his job and experience working at the Human Rights Watch.
“In most places that we work, we’re not seen as a U.S. organization anymore,” Bouckaert said. “And the fact that we don’t take any money from the U.S. or any other government really gives us the credibility, internationally, to document and talk about human rights abuses all around the world.”
“We’ve kind of transformed ourselves from a U.S. based organization, which has field offices all around the world, to an organization which has staff from all around the world,” Bouckaert said. “[It] really enriches our organization and enriches our perspectives and changes the way we look at the rest of the world. And I think it’s been a transformation that’s absolutely essential and it makes me even more proud to be working at Human Rights Watch.”
During his visits to classes, Bouckaert focused on his most recent work, chronicling the conflict in the Central African Republic in both print and film.
“We bring awareness to the closest thing to a genocide since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, in a country that very few people know about,” Bouckaert said.
The goal of Bouckaert’s work is to increase the attention that the media, the public and governments give to the conflict. He does this through photographs, social media, print articles and documentaries.
“We are constantly working to reach the audiences we want to reach,” Bouckaert said.
He also stressed to journalism students the importance of “like a psychologist” establishing trust with the people you interview and “making the strategic decisions to get to your stories,” while making ethical choices.
Students said that they learned from Bouckaert about their respective subjects.
“Mr. Boukaert speaking to my class was an invaluable learning experience,” Jaebok Lee ’16 said. “He was a great storyteller and he weaved concepts from human geography into his stories, which made his work relevant to our studies and our studies relevant to the real world.”
Even in the dangerous countries he visits, happy times still exist, Bouckaert noted.
“There are always unexpected moments of beauty. You just have to capture them,” Bouckaert said.