U.N. Intern Lived In A Tent Because He Couldn't Afford Accommodations

Earlier this week, David Hyde, 22, found himself inundated with media attention after it was discovered he had been living in a small tent on Lake Geneva because he couldn't afford housing while working an unpaid internship at the U.N. On August 12, Hyde made headlines again for his very public resignation, The Guardian reports.

Hyde, who hails from New Zealand, made his resignation announcement outside the gates of the U.N. He explained his motive for leaving but also conceded he had been fully aware that the U.N.'s internship program provided no wage or stipend, no transport help, no food allowance, and no health assistance. "It’s my own decision," Hyde said of leaving his position, "and I chose to resign because I felt that it would be too difficult to continue to focus on my work as an intern at this stage."
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Hyde also assured onlookers and media outlets that the U.N. had neither forced him to sleep in the tent nor pressured him to leave the internship. "My circumstances and the conditions for this internship made it the only real possibility that I could see," Hyde told the Tribune de Genève of his out-of-doors accommodations. (Geneva, which sits in the southwest of Switzerland, is known to have extraordinarily high rents.)

David's mother, Vicki Hyde, told Stuff New Zealand that her family was only partially surprised by her son's choice of living space. She also described David's "strong view on principles and how people should be treated."

Hyde explained that when he first began interviewing for internships, companies routinely asked if he could afford to fully fund himself for the duration of the program. When he replied with the honest answer, "no," he was rejected.

"So when I applied for this role at the UN," Hyde said, "I did not truly disclose my own financial situation. I said I had enough to support myself, when really I didn't. And I got the job."

However, Hyde urged the media to pay less attention to his particular situation and to instead focus on the trend of unpaid internships. In the U.S., there's been a rash of class-action lawsuits by interns against their employers. Just this week, the Olsen twins' company, Dualstar Entertainment, was sued by 40 past and present interns for back pay.

"Call me young and call me idealistic, but...I do not feel that this is a fair system," Hyde said in his speech. "Interns all over the world need to come together and push for the recognition of our value and our equal rights that we deserve... I hope to see the United Nations become a role model for all on the issue of internships in the future."
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