While I appreciate the warning against the potential reinforcement of colonialist ideas offered in Lisa Miatello’s article, two words came out of my mouth to no one in particular as I finished reading this article: “Excuse me?”
Okay, sure, everything’s not perfect over here “in our own backyard,” as one might say. But in my view, those in need in Canada can access various resources that are simply unavailable to those in need in the “Third World.”
Believe it or not, there are some people who exist that don’t think incessantly about their CVs, but for argument’s sake, let’s consider those who do. Does the benefit of a valuable experience undermine one’s noble intentions and one’s contribution? Of course not. Dear people of privilege, don’t ever help anyone if the experience also benefits you – that’s only for “righteous pioneers” with “colonial mentalities.” (Seriously?)
A better emphasis should also be made on extended help. Internships are displayed too often only as “a few months abroad” where the end of the internship marks the end of your contribution. Lifelong relationships and commitments can be forged to ensure enduring growth for a community.
It is also true that internships can be framed in a way that suggests we are to further our careers with them. Without specifics, we can’t quite evaluate the effectiveness of the “great white traveller” in benefiting foreign communities. But, I say, if you can help yourself by helping others, then it’s a win-win situation.
I felt good after giving my friend a hug and making him smile today. I benefited; does that mean I shouldn’t do it again?
U1 Humanistic Studies