Olaf Koens was one of the first journalists on the scene at the wreckage of MH17. His report from the crash area helped him to become the journalist of the year.
Nowadays Koens travels across the Middle East to make reports. The RTL News correspondent told 250 VWO students at Bogerman College in Sneek about his experiences and gave advice for the future.
The 34-year-old Koens is a former student of Bogerman College. He attended secondary school there and returned after seventeen years for the fifth edition of the Bogerman lecture. Koens told about his years in Fryslân and that at the time he thought the world was very small. "But in reality the world is huge and, if you really want to, anything is possible," Koens told the students in the audience.
The fact that Koens ended up in journalism is, according to him, pure coincidence. After obtaining his VWO diploma, he went on to study philosophy in Groningen, Antwerp and also Brussels. He never graduated, but in Belgium Koens met his wife.
He ended up with De Volkskrant and the RTL News. Seven years later, Koens was one of the first journalists on the scene at the wreckage of MH17. The way in which he reported from the disaster site even earned him the title of journalist of the year. He managed to give the news not in the way everybody wanted it - he tried to present a pure material, to make people have their own opinion.
As a foreign correspondent, he says he can practice "the most beautiful profession in the world". From the audience, Koens was asked whether his confidence in mankind had declined due to all the horrors he saw in war zones. ,, No, despite all the misery, I have become a happier person. Because even in areas where people do the most terrible things to each other, there are always others who offer help at the risk of their own lives and open their doors out of hospitality. ”