• "GESI is about engaging a world that is bigger, more exciting, and more complex than most people imagine. This abroad experience has allowed me to learn more about myself as a student, a partner in the work world, and as a member of humanity, and I'm looking forward to my continued growth in all these capacities."

    - Tarik Patterson

  • "GESI is not a program that teaches you how to help others. It is one that enables you to turn "others" into "us". It is real living with real people, and immerses you into a culture that is as sophisticated and complex as your own."

    - Michelle Kim

  • "GESI exposed me to the difficult but rewarding realities of community development: True impact comes from work at the grittiest level. If you're considering a career in a non-profit, NGO, social work, or anything that supports your community, an experience like this is vital."

    - Kirk Vaclavik

  • "There are two ways of learning: by keeping your nose to a book or by opening your eyes to the world. GESI provides the rare learning opportunity as it combines both forms. I know I have walked away invariably changed for the better."

    - Kalindi Shah

  • "Our project involved community members in every conceivable way. My relationships built with community members were my most proud and lasting accomplishments."

    –Sebastian Buffa

  • "I was looking for an opportunity to create lasting change--both in a community and in myself. GESI sets its participants up with the necessary tools and skills, and then gives them complete freedom to learn, fail, rework, and eventually succeed."

    - Rena Oppenheimer

  • "The program has given me a glimpse into what it is like to work internationally at the grassroots level. Having the hands on experience that the program has given me, I feel like I am one step ahead for other jobs in the development sector."

    - Ashley Fu

  • "The experience has given me a new perspective on everything from washing the dishes to how to address world hunger... I will be returning to the lessons I learned on this trip decades from now."

    - Alexis Suskin-Sperry

  • "The most unique aspect of this program is the opportunity to act on a theory that we had learned. GESI is a unique opportunity to experience how development theories, methodologies and practices actually play out in a community."

    - Lakshmi Ramachandran

  • "I will always treasure my home-stay experience. I became very close with my siblings and loved having a large family. I learned that wherever you are, a family is a family and life is lived day to day."

    - Ellen Abrams

  • "My home-stay was one of the best aspects of my summer. My sisters taught me so much about Ugandan culture as well as life in general. We have grown up on different sides of the world but we may as well as lived next door."

    - Chelsea Christman

  • "Professor Arntson's team building exercises and classes about group dynamics were invaluable. They gave our team the vocabulary and tools to mediate conflicts and make decisions while abroad and helped us understand each other's motivations."

    - Catherine Wu

  • "Our NGO let us work independently, but took co-ownership of our project, which was comforting as we were creating a proposal for them and we required input and feedback to know that our work had a purpose."

    - Elizabeth Montgomery

  • "Being at our NGO was the single best part of the trip. I loved the community, and I loved the people there. It is an amazing NGO that does amazing things. The challenges we faced taught us to overcome obstacles."

    - Alex Grubman

  • "The FSD site team was incredible. I've never worked with such capable, caring, fun people. They made me feel so at home and safe and also really supported us with our NGO."

    - Asha Toulmin

  • "I am very impressed by the commitment and intelligence of the fellow students in GESI. I definitely learned much from them."

    - XinKai Cheng

  • "The diversity of our group made us effective -- while others preferred to work on logistical, behind-the-scenes stuff; some were outspoken, others were more contemplative; some were better planners, some were better at actuating ideas on paper."

    - Abby Hannifan

  • "This program gave new meaning to hands on learning. The background at the institute on development was great, and a week later you were on site attempting to implement what you had learned, and in the process learning far more than you could imagine."

    - Rachel Suffrin

  • "The most unique thing was the amount of exposure we got to the community. I felt like I was a part of it and not just observing it."

    - Bryan Stenson

  • "This experience was absolutely applicable to my personal, professional, academic goals, especially when it comes to approaching development with a realistic perception of how it works on the ground."

    - Elizabeth Montgomery

  • "GESI has helped me mature as a team member and a prospective development worker."

    - C.A.

Program

GESI is a two-course, summer study abroad program focused on teaching students about community development in a global context. To see photos of student’s experiences throughout the GESI program, visit the GESI facebook page.

 

GESI’s Four Program Components:

 

  • Pre-Departure Learning Summit: June 16 – 22 
    During this rigorous, seven-day Pre-Departure Learning Summit in Chicago, students take two courses taught by Northwestern faculty–one in International Development Theory and one in Community Consulting Practice. The training also includes historical, political, and cultural information from country experts, language training, team-building exercises, and panels on development topics with specialists from the field (see academics page for further information). Following the Pre-Departure Learning Summit, teams take group flights to their summer destinations.

 

  • In-Country Immersion: June 23 – August 16
    Students participate in a two-month internship in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic/Haiti, Nicaragua, India, South Africa, or Uganda. While in-country, student teams work directly with local leaders doing work to advance the social mission of their organization. Living in homestays with community members, students are supported by our in-country partners. Through their 24/7 professional field staff at each site, our partners facilitate student relationships with their local hosts and provide support for health, safety, etc. See GESI’s facebook page for photos of the in-country experience.
  • Final Reflection Summit: August 17 – 19
    Upon returning from their host-countries, students meet back in Chicago for a three-day Final Reflection Summit. GESI participants from all six sites share and compare geographical experiences while processing their immersion. Students will also consider how to respond to the GESI experience by networking with and learning from professionals who are creating social change in a range of fields.
    • Alumni Network
      As the program closes, the Center for Global Engagement (CGE), which runs the GESI program, transitions into the role of alumni support. CGE aspires to help students lead lives committed to international social justice. For us, this means helping our alumni find internships, jobs, or project support opportunities that allow them to continue engaging with the issues they care about most.