• "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.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

In the past three years, 40% of GESI participants have received financial aid from their home institution or from external scholarship awards.

The GESI team strives to help students find ways to finance this program–be it through GESI scholarships for qualifying Northwestern students, external scholarship awards, or funding through students’ home institutions. Read below for various options for NU and non-NU students to consider, external scholarship links, and fundraising ideas.

Scholarship Announcement:

Bonnie and Mike Daniels             GESI Scholars Fund

Thanks to the generous contributions of Bonnie and Mike Daniels, starting summer 2014, the Buffett Center is pleased to be awarding up to 15 scholarships that will cover full tuition and other program costs for Northwestern students.  These full scholarships will play a significant role in allowing for the participation of a more economically diverse community of students in the Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI).  One of the Buffett Center’s continuing goals is to increase access to opportunities for all students to participate in GESI’s unique model for engaged learning abroad.

Bonnie and Mike Daniels are both NU alumni (Bonnie – WCAS’69 / Mike – Comm’68 WCAS’69).  Bonnie is an NU trustee and chair of the Weinberg College of Arts and Science Board of Visitors.  Bonnie is the Director of Management Systems International, an international management consulting firm, where she works primarily on activities sponsored by the World Bank, United Nations, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.  Mike is a Consultant for Science Applications International Corporation.  SAIC is a US company that provides government services and information technology support.

Options for NU Students:

  • NU students, particularly juniors and seniors, are welcome to apply for summer grant assistance through the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid. Be aware that summer grant assistance is need-based and very limited. Not all students qualify, even those who demonstrate financial need. Some students may be offered loans instead of grant, or a mixture of both. For more information, please contact Krista Buda (k-buda@northwestern.edu) from the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid. Additional information about summer financial aid–-including policies and application procedures-–can also be found on the financial aid website at:
  • If awarded summer grant assistance from the Undergraduate Financial Aid Office, it will count as one of the student’s twelve quarters of financial aid eligibility. In the past, some GESI students have used their GESI course credit to allow them to graduate early or be part-time students during their final quarters at NU. Therefore, students who are awarded summer grant assistance should contact their academic advisor to plan appropriately for graduation and the remainder of their coursework at Northwestern.
  • NU students with demonstrated financial need will be considered for GESI scholarships if they do not receive summer study abroad funding from the Financial Aid Office. GESI also works with the Northwestern Financial Aid Office to help provide loans for students if GESI scholarships do not meet a student’s full need. Neither the GESI scholarships nor partial loans would count toward a student’s 12 quarters of financial aid. See Scholarships for NU Students section below for further information.
  • A number of past GESI students have received external scholarship funding. See the listing of External Scholarship Opportunities below.
  • If you would like to speak with GESI staff about any of the above options or other ways to make GESI affordable, we are here to help! Please contact gesi@northwestern.edu with questions.

Scholarships for NU Students:

We are excited to offer scholarships for Northwestern students applying to GESI 2013. These scholarships exist so that qualified Northwestern undergraduates have the opportunity to gain international and community development experience, regardless of financial constraints. Award amounts vary and are based on financial need, essay quality, and academic merit. Underrepresented minority students are encouraged to apply.

There are no added steps to apply for GESI scholarships–just complete the regular application including the brief scholarship essay question, and we will consider NU students for a scholarship. If scholarship awards do not meet a student’s full need, GESI may work with the student and NU’s Financial Aid Office to help provide the student with a loan. Please note that we may adjust the amount of your scholarship based on any external scholarship funds you may receive.

Options for Non-NU Students:

  • Students should check with their own home Financial Aid offices to determine their eligibility for Financial Aid. We encourage students to begin these conversations as early as possible, and we are happy to supply any documentation or written materials needed.
  • In the past, some students have used their GESI course credit to allow them to graduate early or be part-time students during the final quarter/semester at their home institution.
  • A number of past GESI students have received external scholarship funding. See the listing of External Scholarship Opportunities below.
  • If you would like to speak with GESI staff about any of the above options or other ways to make GESI affordable, we are here to help! Please contact us.

Fundraising Toolkit

Past GESI participants have successfully fundraised to cover all or part of the program costs. See the GESI Fundraising Toolkit below for strategies, ideas, and tips for successfully fundraising to cover your program costs. (Click to enlarge).

GESI Fundraising Toolkit_updated 12.12

You can also visit Foundation for Sustainable Development’s Funding Your Experience page for more fundraising ideas.

External Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities:

Students should refer to the following websites and databases for a variety of funding opportunities. Deadlines come quickly. If you know you need to apply to scholarships, we encourage you to check scholarship deadlines ASAP. Please be sure to verify the deadlines and eligibility on each scholarship’s individual website, since these are subject to change.

  • Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships
    Description: This award provides study abroad scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at their college or university. If you are a Northwestern student interested in applying for the Gilman Scholarship, please contact us before submitting an application.
    Deadline: Typically falls on March 1.
    Eligibility: U.S. citizen receiving Federal Pell Grant; enrolled in credit-bearing program (like GESI); at least 4 weeks studying abroad; cannot be traveling to country on State Department travel warning list.
    Average amount: $3,000
  • Diversity Network Summer Scholarship
    Description: Provides scholarships toward travel costs for summer study abroad
    Deadline: Typically in mid-April. Check their website for updates.
    Eligibility: Awards given to economically disadvantaged students, first generation college students, African-American/Black, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Multiracial/ethnic or Indigenous/Native-American students; applicants must attend a Diversity Network member institution; minimum 3.0 GPA; must complete weekly blog.
    Average amount: $500
  • Fund for Education Abroad
    Description: Provides scholarships (up to $10,000) for students studying abroad; preference is given to students traveling to non-traditional destinations and to students participating in programs with a sustainable service-learning component (GESI students, that’s you!).
    Deadline: Typically mid-January. Check their website for updates.
    Eligibility: U.S. citizenship or permanent resident; undergraduate; studying abroad for at least 4 weeks.
    Average amount: up to $10,000
  • GO! Overseas Study Abroad Scholarships
    Description: Study abroad scholarships awarded based on the quality and creativity of writing samples and/or video submissions.
    Deadline: September 15, 2012 (check their website for additional deadlines).
    Eligibility: Must submit essay application and/or video samples; pre-departure and post-return interview required.
    Average amount: $1,000
  • LIVFund Scholarships
    Description: Scholarships for students interning, learning, or volunteering abroad in various Latin American countries including Bolivia and Nicaragua.
    Deadline: 6 months prior to departure
    Eligibility: Over 18, studying abroad in Latin America; must complete three blog entries.
    Average amount: $500
  • Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants
    Description: Scholarships awarded to both members and non-members for study abroad experiences that relate directly to a student’s academic preparation, potential career choice, or commitment to the welfare of others.
    Deadline: Typically in early-April. Check their website for updates.
    Eligibility: 3.5 GPA.
    Average amount: $1,000
  • Rotary Foundation Scholarships
    Description: The Ambassadorial Scholarships program is the world’s largest privately-funded international scholarships program providing more than 500 scholarships every year.
    More information: Contact your local Rotary District club
  • Sara’s Wish Scholarship Fund
    Description: Study abroad scholarships awarded to young women who are committed to making the world a better place by fully participating in it.
    Deadline: Reviewed October through January.
    Eligibility: Young woman with a commitment to public service, history of leadership, and strong record of scholarship; sincere interest in the work of Sara’s Wish Foundation and willingness to join with Sara’s Wish Foundation in its ongoing efforts to improve safety awareness.
    Average amount: $1,000
  • Study Abroad.com A list of scholarship opportunities for study abroad.
  • Study Abroad Funding A database of scholarships for study abroad and internship abroad experiences.
  • College Scholarships A database linking to more than 40 college scholarship search sites.