While looking up material today for an article I’m writing for the next issue, I came across a New York Times story from Tuesday about foreign exchange students in the U.S. protesting their terrible labour conditions and basic wage slavery at the hands of a Hershey’s chocolate-packing factory. And while their actual conditions are totally awful – with program fees and rent deducted from their paycheques, some students are looking at a take-home pay of $200 a week for full-time hours, which won’t even cover the costs of their visas – the hardest part to read is on the second page.
Harika Duygu Ozer, 19, a second-year medical student from a university in Istanbul, said she had heard from friends that the summer exchange program would be fun and that she would earn enough money to pay for her medical school tuition.
“I said, ‘Why not?’ This is America,” Ms. Ozer said.
When she was offered a contract for a job at a plant with Hershey’s chocolates, she said, she was excited. “We have all seen Charlie’s chocolate factory,” she said. “We thought, ‘This is good.’ ”
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