I’m featured in the third edition of the Summer Exchange Newsletter that AIESEC UK sends out every week. Here is what I told them:
I’m at the airport, after a sleepless night on a 12-hour flight, ready to take in what Mauritius has to offer. After several rounds of interviews Amnesty International wants me, and my only plan is to leave in two months knowing that I have made a difference. I have the structure of a big organisation behind me, now I need to understand and experience the culture of Île Maurice.
On our way home from the airport, we stop by Blue Bay for a walk on the beach. Contrary to what the name implies the water is postcard-turquoise, and the coconut and pineapple sellers are lined up, offering fresh fruit with chili and vinegar sauce – delicious! When seeing my new home for the first time there is no water, so my first shower is taken with water bottles. I’m greeted by other EPs who quickly become like the best friends you’ve known forever – one of whom I’m visiting in Egypt during Ramadan later on. In the kitchen, which is decorated with German, Indian and French flags, a girl is getting her left foot henna-tattooed. Lunch often consists of the national dish, the dholl puri, which people sell from their motorcycles for 25p. I love it!
I start my internship the following week, and the work of a Danish EP interests me. We decide to work together on the preliminary research of the conditions of migrant workers, doing dormitory inspections and writing articles for the national newspapers about our findings. We start our blog about the topic, mwmru.wordpress.com, which two weeks later is discussed in the parliament. The leader of the opposition wants to greet us, and we are frequently published in several newspapers. Eight migrant workers who are held against their will, currently being paid 30p an hour producing garment for Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss, are being given their tickets to return to their families in Nepal. Another house with 15 Indian workers invites us in for a cup of authentic masala chai and a Bollywood movie. The country is filled with nice tourist attractions, but it is these small encounters with the true local reality that is making my summer on exchange spectacular.