2017 Internship Fellow Spotlight: Emily Steck at WITNESS

HRI Summer 2017 Internship Fellow, Emily Steck, tells us about her internship experience at

WITNESS in Brooklyn, NY.

Hello! My name is Emily Steck and I am a senior year at UConn as a double major in Political Science and Human Rights. This past summer I was lucky enough to receive the opportunity to intern with WITNESS, a human rights organization based in Brooklyn. WITNESS aims to expose human rights violations by enabling activists to utilize technology and video to document human rights abuses.

WITNESS is located in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, just a few blocks from the Barclays Center. While interning with WITNESS I lived in Bushwick just off the G-Train, a 15-minute subway ride from their offices. At WITNESS my duties focused on communications and engagement. I worked closely with the engagement team to utilize social media platforms to provide communities with access to our resources on filming, storing, and uploading video evidence of human rights violations.












​While living in Bushwick I had access to some of the best art, music, and food Brooklyn has to offer. Summer in Bushwick allowed me to attend a diverse array of cultural and social justice oriented events while simultaneously eating a lot of ridiculously good food.

WITNESS operates at a global scale with regional teams all over the world. The Brooklyn office serves as a headquarters for all of WITNESS’ activities. During my work hours I was lucky enough to attend a variety of staff and program-specific meetings that gave me insight as to the inner workings of human rights non-profits. I gained an interest in the communications and engagement dimension of human rights while interning for a grassroots women’s rights organization in Cape Town, South Africa. There I began to comprehend how paramount it is to engage with activists at the local level to see that their grievances are heard. As intern at WITNESS I was able to utilize these skills with consideration to both an American and broader global context.



WITNESS had representatives participating in a panel at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival while I was interning which provided me with the invaluable opportunity to hear experts in the field discuss the role of video in exposing human rights violations. At the “From Audience to Activist” panel I learned from such legends as Amy Goodman the best means to hold individuals and institutions alike accountable through the utilization of modern technology.





As an intern for WITNESS my responsibilities included: attending meetings/trainings, drafting and scheduling social media postings, engaging with WITNESS’ plethora of resources, researching best practices for blog posts, and assisting in promotion of events and materials for activists. This experience in conjunction with all of the exceptional guidance and mentorship provided by WITNESS’ staff gave me an abundance of insight as to the evolving and ever-present role that technology plays in human rights.