Photojournalism students showcase work done abroad

By Kaitlin Karins, NewsNetNebraska

“These people have next to nothing, yet they are the first to give you everything they have.”

Professor Bruce Thorson knows better than anyone how true those words are. Thorson leads a class called global eyewitness that travels twice a year to countries around the world. The class is funded by an endowment given to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by Howard. G. Buffet, Joel Sartore and Tom Mangelsen.

This summer the class, which is made up of nine photo journalist, went on their ninth trip to Indonesia to produce a multimedia project entitled “Indonesia’s Unforeseen: Stories of Tradition, Culture and Survival,” which was showcased Nov. 6 at the Bourbon Theater.

After the students are selected for the trip, they are responsible for about six to seven weeks of research before they even arrive in the country of their choice. Then they have about three weeks on the ground to turn the leads they found into stories.

Senior Kaylee Everly is one of those lucky enough to be given the chance experience multiple trips with Thorson. She has begun a documentary of her own, “Death across Cultures”, that stems from the work she has done not only in Indonesia but during previous trips as well.

“Death has become my beat, I guess you could say,” she said.

During the group’s stay in the Dominican Republic, Everly spent three weeks working with gravediggers. Everyday from sun up to sunset, she was working with the gravediggers as they went through their daily routines of digging graves, and even some times moving bodies that have already been buried. While researching gravediggers, Everly came across an article on how the typical Indonesian family keeps the corpses of family members in the home with them for years at a time.

In Indonesian culture it is common for funerals to last three to seven days. The funeral planning can take years, so as preparations for the funeral are under way, Indonesians keep the corpses of their family members at home.

“These experiences are really what attracted to me to the idea for my documentary. In American society we have this thing where we place a taboo on death, it’s something that we are generally afraid and while I am not necessarily afraid for my own death, I am for the ones that I love.
But understanding how other cultures handle this and the raw emotions that they are not afraid to show, is what this project is about for me”. As one project ends, another one is just beginning. Everly, and the other students are now gathering research for their next destination, Ecuador.



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