2016 is the first year a team from San Diego has participated in the IHL Action Campaign. As one of the three team leaders from the San Diego team, I am extremely proud of my team members. It was hard to start a team mainly because there had never been one before in San Diego. Our team has been an underdog from the start because we resemble a “startup company,” almost like a brand new business, trying to build itself up. Our team consists of 10 hardworking and ambitious individuals, who are all extremely passionate about international humanitarian law (IHL). I absolutely adore my team because we click so well with one another.
I remember the first day we met each other; all of the group members were crowded in an office cubical, scrambling to make these super cool official Red Cross badges. Crammed in a tiny cubical, everyone was bonding because of how “horrible” our pictures looked on the badges. After someone got their badge, they had to use this hole punching tool. Now at first glance, this hole puncher didn’t look intimidating, however no one had the muscle to use it! The struggle that ensued caused a great deal of laughter rather than frustration. Luckily, I was able to master the tool, resulting in everyone cheering because they finally had hole for the lanyard to go through.
There are many factors that contribute to the composition of a successful team. Personally, I believe the most important success factor for a team is compatibility. Without compatibility, nothing would get done because we would all hate working together, thus nothing would get accomplished. Not only is my team compatible, but we also all have a strong work ethic. It’s such a present environment to be in because there’s never a dull moment when our team is working. We make each other laugh while simultaneously getting our work done.
One element in our Campaign is a fun music video that was inspired by Justin Bieber’s hit song “Sorry.” As a group, we looked at what other teams did in the past for their Campaigns to get inspiration. While perusing the Internet, we came to the conclusion that we had to do something fresh. We set out from the start to make learning about torture interesting. Instead of solely lecturing people about the misconceptions of torture in wartime we wanted to make it lighter – thus our “sorry” video was born. While filming the music video, we all had a say in how to make it great. Not to mention, filming videos is always an eventful experience.
I honestly never thought I’d be interested in IHL, mainly because at first glance I didn’t know what it was. Before Raid Cross I was completely ignorant about torture, specifically torture regarding suspected criminals. When it comes to torture I learned not only is it in inhumane but also 100% ineffective. I was infuriated to learn that even though torture is illegal under all circumstances it still occurs frequently! I wanted to scream, but instead I decided to work with my IHL team to educate people about the misconceptions of torture and how ineffective it is. Through the hard work my group has put in, we hope to make a difference and change the way people think about torture. After all, 57% of Americans still hold on to the perception that torture is an effective tool to implement on criminals.
Author: Juliette Chavez, IHL Action Campaign Member, San Diego Chapter
*The purpose of the IHL Action Campaign is for young people to teach their peers about the importance of IHL, as well as issues related to healthcare in danger, torture, and humanitarianism.