Commentary  I got your culture shock right here

Re: “Something’s fishy about IDS internships” | Commentary | October 8

As an IDS student, my peers and I promised to forgo hopes of large salaries and guilt-free resort vacations in the tropics to work to explore global inequality. We spend three to four years at the undergraduate level, taking classes on every developing area in the world imaginable, as well as the cultural, economic, and social factors of development. If we’re lucky enough to afford to spend a summer unpaid, we can apply for IDS internships and see these areas first-hand, perhaps even help those who have been disadvantaged by the global market. Also, IDS internships may be short, but they can influence many students to return to the developing world to volunteer for years in the framework of programs like the Peace Corps and Engineers Without Borders. Lisa Miatello, perhaps if you actually went on an IDS internship or interviewed internship alumni for your column, you could have learned this.

In addition, culture shock is not some sort of isolated feeling that only over-privileged Western students searching for a “warm and fuzzy” feeling get when they travel to the developing world. The term was first coined in 1958, and has been used to describe the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees who have been resettled in industrial nations, as well as those who come from relative luxury who choose to travel to the “Third World.” Maybe this terrible culture shock you describe wouldn’t be as awful if there wasn’t such a wide gap between the G20 and the rest of the world. But oh wait, it’s wrong for us, as “white Westerners” (in perhaps the most racially-diverse major at McGill) to go to these countries and see these problems first-hand, so we can get experience for careers in which we actually have the power to bridge this gap!

Jamie Berk