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
EIlen
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This spring I had a fantastic time an intern/student in Vietnam with GEI for 3 weeks. Very smooth experience. The staff at GEI are committed to providing an easy transition and I felt very safe in their hands. They picked me up from the airport and coordinated the travel between various districts very thoroughly. They were really good about making sure I was having an educational but still fun and immersive time in places like Hi Chi Minh and Hue. The itinerary was clear and I felt like I had time in each place to learn enough, but still have a really good mix of different contexts.

I loved the mix of classroom and service learning at various district hospitals and care centres. It felt more meaningful than just volunteering, since we got to work closely with Vietnamese colleagues in order to meet their community needs. I really feel the staff and patients at the hospitals were so welcoming! The hands-on side of things was a massive help in developing practical skills in a cool setting. I had also never done storytelling as part of a public health course, so that was certainly unique. I learned a lot about infection prevention and day-to-day operations of medical facilities in different areas of Vietnam, in a way that complemented my own university education. It was interesting to compare the national health frameworks between Canada and Vietnam. Getting to talk to and work with people in the community was an invaluable experience and I really felt I learned a lot—not just about public health but about life in Vietnam.

The immersion and cultural trips were incredible. I loved the mix of trips relating to Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese nature. The food was amazing!! I really enjoyed how we got to eat some meals with local families. All in all, a great immersive experience.

Default avatar
E
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This spring I had a fantastic time an intern/student in Vietnam with GEI for 3 weeks. Very smooth experience. The staff at GEI are committed to providing an easy transition and I felt very safe in their hands. They picked me up from the airport and coordinated the travel between various districts very thoroughly. They were really good about making sure I was having an educational but still fun and immersive time in places like Hi Chi Minh and Hue. The itinerary was clear and I felt like I had time in each place to learn enough, but still have a really good mix of different contexts.

I loved the mix of classroom and service learning at various district hospitals and care centres. It felt more meaningful than just volunteering, since we got to work closely with Vietnamese colleagues in order to meet their community needs. I really feel the staff and patients at the hospitals were so welcoming! The hands-on side of things was a massive help in developing practical skills in a cool setting. I had also never done storytelling as part of a public health course, so that was certainly unique. I learned a lot about infection prevention and day-to-day operations of medical facilities in different areas of Vietnam, in a way that complemented my own university education. It was interesting to compare the national health frameworks between Canada and Vietnam. Getting to talk to and work with people in the community was an invaluable experience and I really felt I learned a lot—not just about public health but about life in Vietnam.

The immersion and cultural trips were incredible. I loved the mix of trips relating to Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese nature. The food was amazing!! I really enjoyed how we got to eat some meals with local families. All in all, a great immersive experience.

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

Wow! Getting to do a custom internship in South Africa was a dream come true. The team at GEI worked so hard to find me a unique opportunity connecting my love for educational development and social justice, and the placement at Rainbow Academy was perfect! I had been overwhelmed by trying to choose an internship, but GEI was so accommodating about my internship that I really felt like I was in good hands. I also was able to earn transfer credits for my university program!

I was so excited to work with students and teachers in such a cool program. The combination of performing arts and entrepreneurship really opened my eyes to sustainable educational development. I got to work closely with educators and community partners to see how the school managed to develop its programs. I definitely cried when I left my students and I hope I can see them again.

The students were incredible! I fell in love with the music and dance and performance classes here. South Africa really is a Rainbow country, and the music is out of this world. I loved the food and the ambiance of Cape Town and the excursions I went on were amazing. Taking the aerial cableway to Table Mountain will remain as one of my top experiences.

I wish I had thought to stay longer and visit some of the places around South Africa! I’ve always wanted to see Namibia or Botswana but I will definitely be back. I also desperately want to stay in Addo Elephant Park—how magical!! Cape Town is such an incredible city.

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

Last year I completed my internship in Rwanda and decided that I wanted to go back to complete my capstone project again with a civil society organization. I was happy to use GEI both times that I went. They are always available if you have a question, and I enjoyed the periodic meetings with them throughout the 8 weeks I was there. We met to discuss how things were going. In addition, I found it helpful that they helped me obtain the student visa through the immigration office as I wouldn't have wanted to do that by myself. They also provide a nice map of Kigali and brochures that are filled with things to do and what restaurants to go to depending on the food you want. Kigali is also very clean and safe which was nice. I enjoyed staying with my hose family both times as well, and liked learning more about the Rwandan culture with them.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
To always be open about your adventures abroad. Don't expect things to go the way you have planned, and learn to be flexible and adaptable and know that in the end everything will work out!
Default avatar
Aimee
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but it was an overwhelming thought with all of the options of places to go, figuring out how to make it work with my university and all the little details in between. GEI helped make the entire process smooth and seamless.
This program also allowed me to grow and mature as an individual by placing myself in unfamiliar situations. I was able to experience a culture that I would never be able to find in my country, thanks to working hand in hand with local students in a rural health center. Rwanda is this tiny landlocked country in East Africa made of rolling hills, mountains, lakes and valleys and too often associated with the tragic 1994 genocide only. This country has so much to offer today! Kigali is a gorgeous city with great weather and dozens of interesting places to visit! We went to some of them during the three weeks spent there, like the Genocide Memorial. It was also very exciting to go on a safari excursion to Akagera National Park, three hours north of Kigali, with zebras, rhinos, hippos, buffalos, giraffes but we didn’t see lions, unfortunately.
I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in public or community health!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I was very surprised to see that Rwanda is such a peaceful and safe country. I was expecting much more chaos on the road, open air dumps but I discovered a very orderly and clean country instead. That taught me a great deal about prejudices :-)!

Programs

Displaying 10 - 16 of 16

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.

Professional Associations

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