• "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.

Apply to GESI 2014:

The application for GESI 2014 is now open.
Be sure to sign up for our email list to get updates about the 2014 program and application cycle. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want more information about the program.

Please see and complete steps one and two below as either a Northwestern or Non-Northwestern student.

Step 1: Online Application

Instructions for Northwestern Students (click before beginning your application)

Before starting the online application process, read through the following checklist so that you have all required materials prepared.

  • A digital headshot (optional). If possible, photos should be in color, taken in front of a plain white or off-white background, in full-face view, and sized to be 2×2 inches (51×51 mm). Visit the US State Department website for passport photo requirements and free photo tool.
  • If you have a passport, be ready to provide your passport information.
  • Have your student ID available. This can be found on your Wildcard or by logging into your Caesar account.
  • A copy of your unofficial transcript saved as a PDF.
  • Your updated resume.
  • Prepare the following essays in a word document so you can easily copy and paste to the application. (If Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, or Nicaragua is your first choice, type your responses in Spanish.):
    1) Why are you applying to the GESI program? (200 words max)
    2) Please choose ONE of the following questions to answer in 200 words or less:
    • Which of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals most resonates with your interest in the GESI program?
    • What qualities and attitudes are necessary to work with communities abroad in the context of capacity building and service?
    • What are the potential negative impacts of college students entering communities for short periods of time? If selected as a GESI participant, how would you mitigate against these potential pitfalls?
  • If your GPA is below 2.5: Students with a cumulative GPA below 2.5 must explain their academic record and give a plan for how they are planning to raise their GPA (300-500 words).
  • Scholarship Essay. If you are a Northwestern student currently on financial aid, you may be eligible for a GESI scholarship. To be considered please write a paragraph about why you wish to be considered for scholarship, how much scholarship money you require, along with an explanation of any extenuating financial circumstances of which we should be aware.
  • Be ready to set up meetings. As part of the application process, NU students are required to meet with the following: All students: your School Representative; Students with a major and/or minor in Weinberg: your major and/or minor adviser(s); HPME students: your program adviser; MMSS students: your program adviser. Please find more information in the PDF below and in the online application.
  • Keep this PDF handy! There are important notes on this page that will guide you through each section of the online application. You’ll want to print it out, and refer to it often as you complete the online application.

Questions? We’re here to help! Contact GESI at gesi@northwestern.edu or give us a call
at 847-491-5932 or 847-467-2689.

Instructions for Non-Northwestern Students (click before beginning your application)

Before starting the online application process, read through the following checklist so that you have all required materials prepared.

  • A digital headshot (optional). If possible, photos should be in color, taken in front of a plain white or off-white background, in full-face view, and sized to be 2×2 inches (51×51 mm). Visit the US State Department website for passport photo requirements and free photo tool.
  • If you have a passport, be ready to provide your passport information.
  • A copy of your unofficial transcript saved as a PDF.
  • Your updated resume.
  • Prepare the following essays in a word document so you can easily copy and paste to the application. (If Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, or Nicaragua is your first choice, type your responses in Spanish.):
    1) Why are you applying to the GESI program? (200 words max)
    2) Please choose ONE of the following questions to answer in 200 words or less:
    • Which of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals most resonates with your interest in the GESI program?
    • What qualities and attitudes are necessary to work with communities abroad in the context of capacity building and service?
    • What are the potential negative impacts of college students entering communities for short periods of time? If selected as a GESI participant, how would you mitigate against these potential pitfalls?
  • If your GPA is below 2.5: Students with a cumulative GPA below 2.5 must explain their academic record and give a plan for how they are planning to raise their GPA (300-500 words).
  • Keep this PDF handy! There are important notes on this page that will guide you through each section of the online application. You’ll want to print it out, and refer to it often as you complete the online application.

Questions? We’re here to help! Contact GESI at gesi@northwestern.edu or give us a call
at 847-491-5932 or 847-467-2689.

Online Application Link (all students): www.northwestern.edu/studyabroadapp

Step 2: Interview

Upon receiving your completed online application, a GESI staff person will contact you to set up an interview time. Non-Northwestern students will be interviewed by phone or Skype.

Note about the Northwestern Summer Application:

Students NOT being considered for GESI scholarships will be notified of their acceptance on a rolling basis. NU-students requesting scholarship funds will be notified of their acceptance within two weeks following the deadline by which they submit their application (December 15, January 15, or March 1).