The definition of a sweatshop is, “a factory or workshop, especially in the clothing industry, where manual workers are employed at very low wages for long hours and under poor conditions.” My experience with this internship and living on the marae cannot even be compared to a sweatshop. In fact, it is disgraceful to compare our privileged living situation to a sweatshop. At the marae, I have 3 delicious meals a day, access to hot water, and a warm place to sleep. The staff at the marae could not have been more hospitable if they tried.
When I found out about an opportunity to travel to the other side of the world for the summer in order to gain valuable work experience with a promise of free food and lodging, I could not say no. Upon arriving, I immediately had the opportunity to do productive work in order to increase voter registration in New Zealand in anticipation of the upcoming election. Simultaneously, I have the weekends off in order to explore this breathtaking country.
I was really enjoying the work that I was doing until somehow a convoluted story was told to the media; what exactly happened remains unclear. However, I do know that this well-intentioned educational program which somehow turned into a “scandal” has been completely blown out of proportion by the media. I am writing this because the lack of sensitivity that has gone along with criticizing this program is despicable. Additionally, media organizations should be doing investigative research before releasing a story to ensure that the entire story is accurate, but they have failed to do that in this scenario. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity and hope that with better investigative journalism the facts will become more transparent soon.
*TDB has agreed to keep the Interns name secret to protect their identity and because non-disclosure contracts have been signed.