A New Zealand man who lived in a tent during his unpaid UN internship in Geneva confessed it was a publicity stunt yesterday.
David Hyde, 22, told a Swiss newspaper earlier this week he was living in a tent near the shores of Lake Geneva because he could not afford to rent, drawing swift reaction from sympathetic locals who went looking for him to offer accommodation.
However, Hyde, who has now quit his intern job, said that he chose to live in a tent to call attention to the lack of pay at the UN’s prestigious internship program.
He said that when he was interviewed for the position, he was asked if he could fully fund himself in Geneva for the six-month post and said he could, when “my bank account clearly said no.”
Hyde confessed to the publicity stunt on The Intercept Web site, saying that while he had wanted to complete an internship to help fulfil his dreams of working in the international arena, he had also wanted to raise awareness about the “hypocrisy” of unpaid work.
He said he decided on a tent after realizing renting a studio or a room in Geneva was outside his budget, in part because of the “powerful imagery I knew it would provide.”
“It seemed that in doing so, I could hit two birds with one stone: It was an affordable way to live in Geneva with my limited funds — and the fact that a UN intern was living in a tent could help to raise awareness on the issue,” he wrote.
Hyde said he had “truly enjoyed” his short stint working at the global body, but had taken the decision to resign after he became worried that his actions would have repercussions for those that he had work with.
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