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Global Engagement Studies Institute in Guatemala

Global Engagement Studies Institute in Guatemala website  (map)

Sponsor: Northwestern University Global Engagement at the Buffett Institute

Location: Nebaj, Guatemala


The Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI) is a study abroad program that provides undergraduates with the knowledge, tools, and experiences to confront 
shared global challenges. Through service-learning in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, Uganda, or Vietnam, teams of students join the efforts of local organizations to advance community-driven change.

GESI students will work alongside the local team as social innovators.  Projects will include piloting new social innovations, such as water purification, community banking, and youth empowerment programs, as well as developing strategies for cross-community implementation. Students will also consult for local organizations including “El Centro Explorativo,” a rural education center providing learning resources and extra-curricular activities for local children.

You will spend time in two different parts of Guatemala. Antigua (orientation site) is a laid back picturesque colonial town surrounded by volcanoes and coffee plantations. Nebaj (principle site) is located 7 hours north of Antigua nestled in a mountain valley. About 20,000 people live in the semi-urban center of Nebaj, which is one of three communities forming the Ixil triangle (home to over 100,000 Ixil people). 

Despite a relatively large population, Nebaj retains many characteristics of a traditional Guatemalan village. There are few paved roads and the majority of households still harvest their own corn and beans. You may spend time with your homestay mother learning about the art of traditional backstrap weaving used to create traditional dress. Meal times you will spend chatting with the family, often sitting around the traditional wood burning stove.  It is a prime opportunity for learning to make tortillas! Homestay families are bilingual speaking Ixil and Spanish.

Program Type: Northwestern-Sponsored


  • Summer

Languages: Spanish, English

Language Requirements: 

1 year or the equivalent of college-level Spanish.


Home stays

Program Costs: 

The cost of the program is equivalent to tuition for two credits.  In summer 2018 this is $8707. 

Although equal to the cost of tuition, this program fee includes much more, such as room and board while abroad, GeoBlue health insurance coverage, and more.

Visit the GESI website for more cost information details, including our breakdown of additional expenses for use in planning.

GESI Scholarships: 

GESI scholarships exist so that qualified Northwestern undergraduate students have the opportunity to gain international and community development experience, regardless of financial constraints. Learn more about the two types of scholarships that are available to qualified Northwestern students for GESI Guatemala:

  • Bonnie and Mike Daniels Scholars: Up to 15 scholarships that cover full tuition and other costs, and are based on financial need, community engagement, and interview/application quality.
  • Buffett Institute GESI Scholarships: Award amounts vary and are based on financial need, community engagement, and interview/application quality.

Visit the GESI website for more information about GESI scholarships and financial aid.

GESI Appointment

Financial FAQ