An article at The Atlantic looks at a program at L'Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie, an expensive private economics college in Rabat, Morocco. Students are required to complete an internship at a regular job. In the case of Sawsene Nejjar, who grew up in a wealthy family, that meant selling furniture.
“I had my nail polish, my hair done, my makeup done. I felt good, but everyone was looking at me like, ‘Who’s this bourgeoisie coming here? Why is she talking in French every time she’s talking on the phone? Why is she always smiling?’” said Nejjar, who is currently in her third year.
Her co-workers were different than she was. Mostly members of the middle class, they did not attend private school, if they attended post-secondary school at all. They didn’t talk to each other in French. (The official language is the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, though private school teaches French at a young age and public school teaches it a few years later.) The way they spoke the Moroccan dialect of Arabic was different, too.
The purpose of the internship is to expose wealthy students to people of various classes, who they've been insulated from for most of their lives. It's a peek at "how the other half lives," so to speak. What if such a program became common in America? The United States has more income inequality than Morocco. Would spending every day with coworkers and customers outside their experience create a more egalitarian view among privileged students? After all, in any comment thread about tipping, you see that those who once worked for tips tend to leave tips faithfully because they've been there.
But there's no guarantee that such a program will result in changed attitudes. Walking in someone else's shoes for a year is far different from walking in them for a lifetime. And sadly, in poor economic times, even low-status internships may be taking Mcjobs away from people who really need them. As it is now, the ability to take low-pay or unpaid internships that lead to elite jobs is restricted to those who don't have to earn a living. What do you think?
(Image credit: Flickr user _BuBBy_)