Global Engagement Institute

Global Engagement Institute


GEI offers high-impact, short-term study abroad and volunteer programs in some of the most engaging destinations in Africa and Southeast Asia.

We are passionate about sustainable development and social justice. And we believe that we can make the greatest impact by infecting others with our passion. As such, we seek to inspire and empower the students and professionals who join our programs to create positive change in the world, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


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



Being part of GEI Vietnam crew on January was a thrilling experience overall. As I come from Turkey, a country culturally different than Vietnam in many ways, I was stoked to be there working with Vietnamese colleagues throughout. I would define the uniqueness of GEI Vietnam experience in a single word "eye-opening" in terms of its cultural interaction, international management and permanent influence features.
In academic terms, the program allowed me to learn how to manage International colleagues with different cultural dimensions. Working with Vietnamese participants helped us discover that we would need to adapt and adjust to a new business environment we faced. As we worked on the project, we were quite astonished by how Vietnamese do business, how much their communication manners differ and what priorities they do give to certain traits, as such Vietnamese value on formal greetings.
I would define the GEI Vietnam experience as influential, mainly because we had a tangible effect on an environment we would never have a chance to influence as individuals . As "influencers", we assessed the feeling of embrace and empathy for Vietnamese culture and society. GEI Vietnam experience was a like real life experiment, in the sense that we had the chance to observe how Vietnamese live, what they do in daily life and what they value. We watched a Vietnamese football match with our colleagues, did karaoke (pretty big thing in Vietnam!) and had some quality local food. I would say my favourite memory was celebrating the achievement of Vietnamese football team, who got 2nd in Asia Cup. We spent the whole night on the streets after the match, with flags and banners in our hands and rejoiced with Vietnamese crowd. The moments when we had high-fives with motorbikes passing by and seeing their smile on their face were quite emotional and timeless for me. As a result of 2 weeks with unique memories and challenges, I would certainly recommend this experience as a life-time opportunity to broaden one's mind.

How can this program be improved?
Everything was well-organized, thanks for all the effort!
Yes, I recommend
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I have attended the Business Consulting Vietnam Program when I was in semester break. The program brought me a new perspective which makes this experience unique. I noticed that people are social animals different than other species who are able to communicate effectively and build an ecosystem by using common language that we defined with trust between each other so the cooperation can take place without the need of any strict control mechanism even they don’t know each other very well. In a very small period, I and my Vietnamese friends handle the situation about one of the company (TS24 Corporation) whose customer is Vietnamese Government.

GEI gave us the main objective, topic, we analyzed the problem based on the GEI’s fundamental perspective and the information that we took from them. In the first few hours Coralie from GEI, help us to build a safe environment for all of the participants in the program which was excellent and very fun. When we get the background for the general conditions in Vietnam especially for developments in IT sector, we started to become deeper for our topic which is about the “Big Data”.

Next week, the topic is changed because we don’t have a deep IT knowledge to fix the coding problem by using a specific application. Then the project become almost a conducting their marketing strategy based on the few assumptions. The most moving part was we never lost our motivation, willingness to cooperate and effective organization with our Vietnamese friends and lastly we made it.

I was expecting the program will focus on service learning project but it was not a direct service learning Project which focuses on directly to the society and let us find out the real need of them. Instead, the problem was determined and there will be a positive effect on the society in a longer term. For a better and more effective process, we also shaped the problem according to the TS24 Corp’s needs. We practiced several transdisciplinary methodologies and methods more than I expected like Design Thinking. I believe, design thinking process was very interesting and also beneficial. We defined our objectives, stakeholders map process map, work plan which makes us clearer and more comfortable. Before the program I was not aware of shaking hands has a pivotal role for convincing people and also I was not expecting to learn the right way of shaking hands but Coralie taught us how to shake hands and proved it by real-life examples and videos. Vietnamese friends are more open-minded, friendly, respectful, smiling than I expected.

Vietnamese friends taught me many new things and they shared their culture and they make the project process funny. Vietnamese people are very smiling, respectful, excited and they can make empathy. In our leisure time, we usually went and explored new places like restaurants, museums, touristic places. My friend Huy became my new brother and we have a very close friendship with him. At the weekend we have gone to Mekong Delta and my roommate was Huy. He was very energetic and hospitable the whole time in Vietnam. He also bid farewell to me into the airport. Apart from that, my Vietnamese friends made me feel like living in my hometown Turkey. Luckily, we also watched Vietnam young national football team’s football match together with Huy and Vietnamese people in Mekong Delta. The team firstly participated Asian Championship and even they lost in the final, millions of people include me and Huy celebrated the huge success by dancing and shouting for the national team as if Turkish National Team get the European Championship.

How can this program be improved?
We couldn't use the articles that we read before coming to Vietnam. Maybe the articles and other stuff could be more related to the project process.
Yes, I recommend
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I was able to secure a month long internship in Rwanda as a medical elective during the month of April. This month was really special to me not only in developing professionally by exploring the psychiatric topics in depth and practicing my psychiatric interviewing skills, but also due to the timing of April being the national commemoration month. I feel GEI was able to excellently accomodate all my objectives within the limited time I had with the program. I learned about a different culture, while working in the field of psychiatry. The local GEI team also helped me coordinate weekend trips to nearby cities (Nyungwe Forest, Gisenyi- a beautiful town on Lake Kivu), which allowed me to explore other parts of Rwanda.

I truly enjoyed all the time I spent with everyone, from the hospital professionals to my host family. On one of my very first weekends in Rwanda, my host cousins accompanied me to Amohoro stadium to attend the national commemoration event and even translated word for word what the speaker and witnesses were saying. My experience there could not have been more powerful. I highly recommend going if you're there during the event. GEI did a wonderful job with my homestay placement and I strongly encourage future interns to stay with a local Rwandese family.

I will be a psychiatry resident in a couple of months and this experience has only made me more excited and enthusiastic about the direction of the field.

-Most people speak Kinyarwanda, just like with any culture, they really appreciate your efforts in learning their language! (French is also commonly spoken)
-Travel the local way-especially visiting other cities. I've met many friendly Rwandans who went out of their way to help me and sometimes taking the scenic route is the best way to explore!
-Try the small fried fish (Isambaza) in Gisenyi, a local favorite and one of my favorites!

Yes, I recommend
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In early 2018, I luckily took part in a Consulting Abroad Program, organized by GEI. It was such an incredible and amazing experience for me.

During the program, participants were given real challenges faced by a Vietnamese company in the technology field. Even though it turned out to be very complex in comparison with student abilities, we tried our best to brainstorm and find where the inner problem lies. Because of the difficulty, we were pushed to learn as much as we can. We were fuelled with informative and interactive series of lectures that were very helpful to our proposed project. For example, we had a session on Big Data and its impact in the Vietnamese digital sphere. This gave us the opportunity to better understand and visualize business opportunities for our tech-company.

Besides this technical knowledge, the program gave me a precious chance to build relationships with cool friends and enhance my soft skills. With honesty, openness and respect, we quickly got to know each other and grow friendship. Every day we worked closely in teams, constantly researching, discussing and trying our utmost to come up with feasible solutions for the company. Each member was a critical thinker so I had to persuade them, sell my ideas and also listen to others’ opinion. I was really impressed by the way my international friends respond to (cultural) differences with respect and simplicity.

I know that communicating effectively in a multicultural environment is a key to success for global future leaders. With this in mind, I always tried to keep my mind open so that I could discover new insights and perspectives. As a result, I could feel that my mindset and communication skills were gradually progressing.

Furthermore, we had many fun activities to relax, get to know each other and share valuable time together. We exchanged a lot about our culture, tried to speak each other’s language and gently pointed out differences between typical Western versus Eastern behaviours. Hence, we became more understanding and respectful of diversity.

Overall, the time flew so quickly by but the experience has helped me to become more aware of the world’s diversity and thus be more open-minded, able to adapt to various environments and to meet great and interesting people. Most importantly, I learned to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy it. I have the feeling that this was a turning point of my life. I am so thankful to GEI and my international friends for giving me such a great chance to broaden my horizons and create unforgettable memories.

Yes, I recommend
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GEI’s Consulting Abroad Program in Vietnam was a life-changing experience. Our assignment to do market research for an IT company was much more than just a project. GEI enabled us to study and practice “design thinking”, a comprehensive and creative approach to identifying and solving business challenges. Working on real problems of a real company helped us to improve many skills, including problem-solving and working in a team. I particularly also enjoyed the social interaction with our new international friends. We were also able to share our culture, food and history, explored temples, museums and flea markets together, and even celebrated the new champions of Vietnamese football. I strongly recommend joining this program!

Yes, I recommend


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