Global Engagement Institute

Global Engagement Institute

About

GEI is a private institute that provides international students and professionals with high-impact education and engagement programs in Africa and Asia. We inspire and empower participants to apply their passion and skills to create positive change in the world.

Main destinations: Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Vietnam

Founded
2006
Headquarters

426 State Street
#4001 (c/o Mlekoday)
Schenectady, NY 12305
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Charles
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

When I arrived in Nairobi for the start of the program, I was greeted warmly and at that moment I already knew I was home for the next 8 weeks. The coordinators Eric and Esther are amazing because they help you adjust into the culture. This internship program was the least expensive out of all other programs I was researching. I loved my colleagues and my host organization! Of course, it took me some time to adapt to the work culture over there but I believe this is part of the experience. As I want to pursue a career in ICT, it was very informative to intern with a small tech company. I really enjoyed the conversations I had with my supervisors and colleagues, I think I significantly improved my communication and other soft skills. From Nairobi, there is so much to do in the weekends: safari, beach, cultural tours!
I can't wait to visit Kenya again!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring a small gift from your country to your home family! They are fantastic and super curious about where you come from.
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Ashley
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I greatly enjoyed this experience. I loved having class time and experiences with native Rwandan students. This enhanced the ultimate cultural immersion experience. I also enjoyed the different actives and places we had the opportunity to visit. The most moving experience of the program was the Azizi life day in the life of rural women in Rwanda, which allowed me to truly understand the daily actives, chores, and struggles of living in rural areas in Rwanda. Seeing and living their daily life made me appreciate all the things I take for granted such as immediate access to clean water. I was able to make friendships with all the University of Rwanda students were shared this amazing experience with, as well as my fellow students from the US.

What would you improve about this program?
The organization of the academic portion of the program. Assignments and expectations were not always explained clearly.
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Jack
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was attached to the clinical psychology department of Huye Isange Rehabilitation Center, which is a rehab facility for people with drug addiction. During that 2 months, I picked up some of the duties of clinical psychologist, such as conducting psychotherapy session and psycho-education. Throughout the process, I was closely supervised by the psychologist in the center, which allowed me to have a fingertip sense of being a psychologist.

By listening to different life stories, I realized that history does play an important role in one psychological makeup, and it's hard for one to truly know others' feeling. A vivid example is a patient, who witnessed genocide when he was a little child, told me that he still has fear reaction when he sees someone carrying a machete; but that is not the case for a foreigner. This is a valuable lesson of not assuming you know one's feeling, but by constant dialogue, we strive to understand their feeling.

Overall speaking, the whole journey is a life changing experience.

Travelling tips
- Try to immerse yourself in the culture, such as learning Kinyarwanda, visiting different museum, or even attending celebration event (e.g. umuganura day, assumption day)
- Most of the Rwandans are friendly and like talking to foreigner, be open to that kind of experience
- Some of the cities might have shortage of water or electricity supply (like few hours), be ready to that
- Motor bike is one of the common traveling means, it is mostly safe in city
- Try to negotiate the price when you are buying something from a market (but not supermarket)
- Find creative ways to overcome language barrier, since people from the old generation used to speak in Kinyarwanda and French

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Savannah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This internship was a life changing opportunity for me. The close interactions with the Nyamibrambo Women’s Center and other NGOs provided valuable first hand experience of how to begin these NGOs and how they run. On this internship I learnt so much about Rwanda and it’s people, it’s history, and resilience. I learnt to extend myself beyond my comfort zone and developed new and valuable academic skills while doing so - these include experience with editing, writing, photographing, marketing, hands on volunteer work, researching, and putting together proposals. My favorite part of the internship was writing blog posts for the women of the NWC, I was so inspired by the lady I was given to write on and learnt so much about leadership from her. The part of the internship that had the most impact on me was working with the Her Voice Matters program - I got to meet and contribute to the valuable work these women are doing to advance women both educationally and culturally in Rwanda.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have like to know what exactly to expect to work on and be doing in Rwanda, and how best to prepare for it as I probably would have done so differently. However, this did not at all take away from the value of the experience.
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McKenna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am so grateful that I decided to participate in this program. I fell in love with Rwanda and I was inspired by the many women we worked with. I definitely gained more than I was able to give. I was able to learn many new business-related skills as we interned for the Nyamirambo Women's center, as well as teamwork and leadership skills. I know that these skills will continue to be of value to me throughout my life. I enjoyed being able to interact with so many different organizations who are making a real positive impact in their communities and the lives of individuals. After participating in this program, I have a renewed desire to follow the example of the women that we worked with in finding ways to create real and sustainable change in the world by lifting and empowering others.

What would you improve about this program?
It would have been nice to know a bit more specifically what kind of work I was going to be doing before actually going to Rwanda. I didn't realize until I got there how much business-related work we were going to be doing like helping the Nyamirambo Women's Center come up with new sales strategies, marketing techniques, etc. I didn't have really any experience in any of these areas so I felt a bit overwhelmed at first. But I was able to learn a lot!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Cody Ritz

Cody is a 3rd year Biology major and Interdisciplinary Humanities minor attending Brigham Young University.

Why did you choose this program?

At the start of the Fall 2017 semester, I knew that I wanted to find some opportunity to travel abroad for a program related to healthcare for the following summer. Upon hearing about the Rwanda Global Health Internship offered at BYU, I immediately felt strongly that it would be a perfect opportunity for me to enhance my world perspective by getting to experience healthcare through a culture outside of America.

I had the privilege of connecting with various immigrants from Rwanda during my time as a missionary in Montréal, Canada, and hearing about this internship opportunity reignited the connection I felt with them. It also fueled a desire to do everything in my capabilities to pursue this opportunity. It just felt right to me.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Brigham Young University helped me feel well-prepared for the internship. They gave me some good expectations of what I would be doing, and they also relieved the stress of logistically planning an international trip. The Global Engagement Institute, our program provider, did everything in their power to ensure that I would get the most out of my Rwandan experience. They were extremely accommodating and taught me to really embrace the culture of Rwanda. In addition, they gave me some great opportunities to interact with health professionals of various backgrounds.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would advise anyone considering this internship to spend as much time as you can learning about Rwanda BEFORE you arrive. Rwanda has a unique history and culture, and the more you know about the country's context, the better prepared you will be to facilitate positive interactions with the locals. They enjoy guests who come to visit their country and appreciate when you show genuine interest and knowledge of their culture.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

IPC is an important acronym to know as most of our days revolve entirely around it. It stands for Infection Prevention/Control. Here’s what one day could look like during the week:

We wake up at 6:30 AM and get ready for the day. We do some laundry if it needs done, and we eat the breakfast provided for us. We start walking to the health center around 8:30 AM and get there close to 9 AM. From there, we attend a health education course that is held for patients or anyone else in the community on topics such as HIV/AIDS, other communicable diseases, and health insurance.

After the course is done with, we usually start to focus on the Infection Prevention/Control assignment for the day. This could include observation/interaction with healthcare workers and patients or meetings with the clinical directors. We work until lunch which is usually around noon at the local women’s center.

After lunch, we spend some time discussing our findings from the morning, and we talk about ways to help the health center improve their IPC efforts. After that, we continue working on the different presentations and reports we have for the next few days. We usually end the day around 4 PM.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was being able to connect with the locals. I had spent some time with Rwandans before, but I had never been to their country. This gave me a great bit of uncertainty, and this carried over until we got there. Once we arrived, our coordinators from the Global Engagement Institute really helped us feel comfortable. We were given cultural background and advice from different members of GEI which allowed us to understand the environment in which we would be working.

It takes a continual effort to step outside of your comfort zone, but when you do it, you start to learn and grow in completely new ways.

How did you manage all of the expenses for your internship?

Evidently, traveling abroad is an expensive endeavor. Brigham Young University did a great job at informing me of the many ways in which I could seek help to fund my international experience. I applied to numerous scholarships on both the university and national level. I received funding from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and BYU ISP Scholarship. The help I received from these programs alleviated much of the financial burden for my internship. I strongly believe that no student should ever avoid traveling abroad simply because of finances. There are plenty of resources out there just waiting to help you achieve your goals; you just have to get out there and find them!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Eric Kingoina

Job Title
Operations Manager - East Africa
Eric was born in a small town called Kisii, in the south Nyanza province and moved to Nairobi for his studies. He majored in computer science at the University of Nairobi but fell in love with his passion for travelling and meeting new people. As a result, he now works for an organization that helps to create easy and memorable trips for its participants. Eric is a very patient and joyful person that many people call "the fixer" as he fixes real issues in real time. Eric believes in hard work and nothing but hard work.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Standing at Airport

I have travelled a lot, especially in East Africa, which means I know my neighboring countries very well and how to work with them diligently. There are a million plus nice memories but let me choose one; when we visited Zanzibar to explore food security in Africa and learnt how various NGO’s are helping to teach farmers modern ways of productive farming.

Many people do visit Zanzibar’s beautiful beaches but they do not know what common villagers or farmers undergo to have at least one meal on the table.

Most of them eat a single dish (rice) for the whole week, sometimes the month. With the introduction of this kind of farming they can not only have 3 meals a day, but have a balanced diet of fish, chicken, beef and vegetables.

At first, when I was doing the interpreting it was so emotional I could barely hold myself together because of how these stories moved me.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I am very grateful to GEI because this is where I have been nurtured and molded to be who I am today with my wonderful family. Our vision is a major inspiration that impacts our lives and those who work closely with us.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Working with students always has its entertaining stories. We once gave a student an assignment to buy some items in town to teach them how to handle situations on their own. After the student became tired he sat on a popular spot mostly used by beggars and this was so funny to all of us.

The experience of having to work so hard to find common items made the student go back home and develop an app which can help Africans to know where exactly to find items instead of traveling endlessly to find those everyday items.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would like to take part in the Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) program so that I can learn how this actually works since I love babies so much. I can envision myself then being able to actively lead a program and let others learn to save lives as well.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

There are so many companies out there, but our company is especially results-oriented. We achieve our results by acting as a bridge linking various people together to teach and learn two or three things from each other, thus impacting their lives in the best way possible by inspiring them.

We are also the best at fixing logistical challenges thus making your trip with us the most memorable one, at all times. Each delegation offers me a unique experience with different guests and I learn a lot from each group that I deal with.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Working closely with each other in the most trustworthy and transparent manner possible. In addition, it is important to have different staff from different backgrounds as they can contribute their varied experience to the company.

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