An interdisciplinary immersion program in Rwanda, South Africa, or Vietnam


  • Dates (2024): Mar 3-9 | Mar 10-16 | Jul 14-20 | Aug 4-10 | Custom dates (larger student groups)
  • Destinations: Rwanda | South Africa | Vietnam
  • Credit: 4 US credits (~ 8 ECTS credits) for eligible university students in conjunction with additional course elements
  • Eligibility: Undergrad/grad - any field and level of study
  • Program fees: US $1,570
Course overview
While our primary goal is to help as many students as possible develop their competencies as future global change leaders for sustainable development, we recognize that many students simply do not have the time or money to engage in a 3-week course. As a result, we decided to also offer this 1-week interdisciplinary immersion program in order to at least introduce the topic of change leadership for sustainable development to interested students.

You can choose from three fascinating destinations in Africa or Asia to embark on this transformative journey. The fast-paced introductory program allows you to acquire basic applied skills, knowledge, and understanding about systemic transformations towards sustainable development. Possibly even more importantly, it lets you do so through the eyes of key local stakeholders at your chosen destination.

Just like the 3-week field course, this program builds on the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) methodology coined by UNESCO. Accordingly, we use an action-oriented and transformational real-life learning approach that is supplemented by engaging virtual instruction. The highlight is a “future workshop” with a vision-building exercise that you conduct in a small cohort together with local peers. 

  • Start to develop core competencies of global change leaders for sustainable development.
  • Engage with key local stakeholders and experience sustainable development through their eyes.
  • Participate in a “future workshop” with a vision-building exercise.
  • Explore transformations towards sustainable development in a leading African or Asian success story.
  • Broaden your personal and professional network and build lasting international friendships.


One of today’s greatest development success stories, Rwanda is Africa’s prime study abroad jewel. The country underwent a breathtaking transformation since the 1994 genocide. A model for poverty reduction and economic growth, it accounts for the highest percentage of women in parliament anywhere in the world. And the streets of its modern green capital Kigali are clean, safe, and free of corruption.


South Africa has emerged from its troubled and turbulent past into a healthy democratic country and the economic powerhouse of the African continent. At the same time, it’s a great place to witness a society going through dynamic changes, as it can still be considered both a developed and an underdeveloped country. South Africans forge a new identity, strongly embracing their unique multicultural character.


The Asian Dragon is undergoing some of the fastest socio-economic changes any country in the world has seen. It is a major development success story with remarkable rates of economic growth since the start of massive political and economic reforms in 1986. But the lure of modern living has a deep impact on the traditional networks of family and community that continue to play a pivotal role in society.
The course is offered as a 1-week interdisciplinary immersion program. All participants meet at their host cities (Kigali, Cape Town, or Ho Chi Minh City). After a thorough in-country orientation, they embark on a week of action-oriented experiential learning activities to study transformations towards sustainable development in the local context.

Local expert introductions are supplemented by free access to GEI's eCourse "The Transformative Power of Sustainable Development". Excursions showcase sustainable development in both urban and rural contexts and invite participants to explore through guided transformational real-life learning in the community.

The highlight for many consists of a “future workshop” where participants engage in small cohorts with groups of local peers in vision-building exercises. Topics derive from key local opportunities and challenges relating to transformations towards sustainable development.

By the end of the week, the participants come together for a final workshop to start to develop their own leadership story and celebrate their common humanity.

Further details:

Dates, fees, and scholarships
The program dates are generally identical across all program locations (Rwanda, South Africa, and Vietnam).

Program dates

Application due date

March 3-9, 2024 (Spring break 1)

January 1, 2024
US $1,570

March 10-16, 2024 (Spring break 2)

January 1, 2024
US $1,570

July 14-20, 2024 (Summer 1)

May 1, 2024
US $1,570

August 4-10, 2024 (Summer 2)

June 1, 2024
US $1,570

We value full transparency and no hidden costs. As a result, you won’t have any disappointing surprises when you arrive. 

Included in your program fees
are airport transfers, housing (twin sharing), meals (with 1 non-alcoholic beverage), activities, excursions, local transportation, full-time leadership and support, pre-departure advising, and health insurance.

It is important that you take note of what is explicitly not included in the program fees. This helps you budget. Not included are the transportation to/from the program location airport (including international airfare and taxes), visas, immunizations, additional beverages during meals, general items and services of a personal nature, medical expenses not covered by the insurance provided, and other discretionary expenses. Also not included are potential expenses relating to any Covid-19-related measures, including testing, quarantine, or isolation requirements. Should such requirements exist, we will gladly provide on-site assistance, but you will have to cover all related expenses.

GEI offers a variety of merit scholarships, trailblazer scholarships, and opportunity scholarships and grants. You can find further information as well as additional resources for external funding opportunities in the following blog post: Scholarships & Grants.


Meet our core team

All of our instructors and coordinators are highly experienced and resourceful professionals.

Dr. Michael Grosspietsch, PhD

Waleed Fatth, MPH
Senior Instructor
Francoise Uzamukunda, MA
Academic Director, East Africa
Thuy Phan, MA
Academic Director, Southeast Asia
Kari Cousins, MA/MSc
Academic Director, Southern Africa
Yvan Rubengebenge
Operations Director, East Africa
Eric Kingoina, DCS
Operations Manager, Kenya
Denyse Iradukunda, BA
Operations, Rwanda
Adeline Imanirakiza, DIS
Operations, Rwanda

Program timeline

FAQs - General

Where are you located?
We are officially incorporated in New York and headquartered in Berlin. Our GEI Regional Study Centers are located in Kigali (Rwanda), Nairobi (Kenya), Cape Town (South Africa), and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).We are officially incorporated in New York and headquartered in Berlin. Our GEI Regional Study Centers are located in Kigali (Rwanda), Nairobi (Kenya), Cape Town (South Africa), and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).
Where do you operate programs?
Our study abroad programs generally focus exclusively on our GEI Regional Study Centers in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and Vietnam. That said, institutional affiliate partners regularly request that we provide their faculty-led and custom programs also in neighboring countries. As such, we have the operational capacity and experience to provide programs across our three regions – in East Africa (Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda), Southern Africa (Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe), and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam).

FAQs - Application & credits

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to join your programs?
We welcome applicants from all nationalities in our programs. If you seek academic credits or continuing education credits, please make sure that your home institution will accept the (typically U.S.) credits that we offer. More details about credits can be found on our program pages.
Is a deposit required to apply?
Yes, your application is only complete with the payment of a non-refundable deposit payment of US $300 that goes towards your total program fee.
Before I apply, is it possible to contact an alumnus?
Sure, if you’re still looking for answers, we’ll be happy to connect you with one of our alumni.
What kind of credits do you offer?
We have signed a School of Record agreement with The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Undergraduate student participants of our courses are generally eligible for U.S. credits via TCNJ. You can find more information in the following blog post: Academic Credits.
How much do credits cost?
Credits are not typically included in regular program fees. They typically cost an additional US $500 (4 credits), payable to us.
How long will it take to receive my transcript?
It can take up to 4 weeks for you or your home university to receive a transcript.

FAQs - Health & Safety

How do you monitor safety and security at your program locations?
The continuous monitoring of safety and security at our program locations has been an intimate part of our daily work since the very beginning of our operations. All of our decisions are made after careful consideration of every resource at our fingertips – our GEI Regional Study Center staff, our diverse in-country institutional partners, contacts in the field, relevant local government and police sources, local diplomatic missions and a variety of news sources. Our program managers subscribe to various countries’ travel warnings and advisories, including those of the U.S. State Department. Resident managers make every reasonable effort to stay informed, and they disseminate updates to GEI staff and program participants about any changes that have implications on local safety, security and health risks. And, when necessary, we take immediate action, including program relocation or evacuation.
What does your response to crises look like?
Over the years of operating in Africa and Asia, we have unfortunately been forced to occasionally deal with diverse crises, ranging from civil unrest, terrorist attacks, politically motivated violence or street crimes to car accidents, public health and medical emergencies and natural disasters. As terrible and sad as every single one of these events has been, they have strengthened our ability to foresee and prevent many potential problems, and to respond swiftly and decisively to any crisis that really hits us. They have also helped us to develop the networks and relationships to those institutions and individuals who can make the difference in the event of an emergency.
Will you provide health insurance?
Yes. Participants of our study abroad programs receive a comprehensive health insurance that includes evacuation coverage. This is part of the program fees and arranged by GEI.

FAQs - Trip arrangements

Do you help with flights?
No. We are not a travel agent and only provide in-country services. Our partners and clients regularly recommend StudentUniverse for affordable international options.
Can I arrive earlier or depart later?
No problem to arrive earlier or depart later. But you will be responsible for covering the added costs. If desirable, please contact us with your travel plans. If we’re able to assist with housing, transportation services, and excursions, we’ll gladly do so. Late arrivals are not permitted, unless previously discussed with GEI.
What are the living arrangements?
Depending on the program and the program location, we offer different types of accommodation: hotels, guest houses, serviced apartments, or homestays. As a general rule, study abroad programs utilize trusted guesthouses in gateway cities and trusted guesthouses, serviced apartments, or homestays in host communities. The latter are particularly applicable to interns. You can find additional information in the following blog post: Accommodation – What to expect.
Do I need a power converter?
Most of the modern electronic devices no longer need power converters. Please check if all your devices can cover the current between 110–230 Volt.
Is there Wi-Fi available?
In gateway cities, we typically select hotels and guesthouses where Wi-Fi is relatively reliable, as long as you take into account that you’ll be staying in a developing country where internet speed can be slow and patchy. Homestay host families don’t always have an internet connection readily available. In such a case, we offer mobile hotspots that you can rent at an additional fee. At the host communities, we’ll make every effort to also provide internet access, even though speed and reliability are likely to be significantly poorer.
Can you accommodate my dietary restrictions?
In the great majority of cases Yes! A lot of the participants we host have dietary restrictions or food allergies. Please make sure to let us know in advance – on your application form – precisely what restriction of allergy you have. We will then try our very best to accommodate for your needs, whether at a hotel or guesthouse or with a host family or serviced apartment.

FAQs - Finances

Once my deposit is received, does that mean that I'm accepted into the program?
Yes. Our programs are generally inclusive. Students can be enrolled in any major or minor and can be at any level of study (both undergrad and grad).
Does my deposit go towards the full price of the program?
Yes, the deposit counts toward your program balance and will hence be deducted from the final payment.
Is my deposit refundable?
No. Your deposit is not refundable. However, should you not be able to join a program, deposits can be stored for one year and used for another GEI program after discussion with your GEI coordinator. Please contact us immediately if you need to cancel your participation.
Does GEI offer scholarships?
Yes. GEI offers a variety of merit scholarships, trailblazer scholarships, and opportunity scholarships and grants. You can find further information as well as additional resources for external funding opportunities in the following blog post: Scholarships & Grants.
How can I finance my experience abroad?
Don’t wait until the last minute to take care of this important point. Various options are possible (scholarships, fellowships, financial aid, grants or loans) and seeking multiple resources, including from friends and family, may be a very good idea.