As a junior, you are supposed to be established at college. A group of friends, one or two leadership positions in some clubs, a routine, and a complete understanding of the college landscape all awaited me as I entered my 3rd year at Northwestern. I was dead wrong.
I entered junior year completely uncertain of what I wanted to do in life, unclear about new and old friendships, and feeling like I was missing something in my extracurricular activities. To my surprise, this was the case for many of my friends at Northwestern. As a collective, we were still navigating this college landscape with wonder, fear, and a misguided belief that we should have it all figured out. We loved Northwestern but did not realize we still had so much to learn and experience.
Thankfully, clubs operate like communities here at Northwestern and so it is natural for students, in their quest for “that one thing”, to join clubs. And, as a result, it was natural for me to join Northwestern’s Global Engagement Summit, an organization that my roommate had been in since our first-year and loved immensely. Suddenly, it seemed, everything clicked. GES quickly became a place where I could be exposed to new thoughts, meet new people, and learn so much about my own views on the world and my place within it.
The Global Engagement Summit is the only organization of its kind in the United States. Each year we bring in student delegates from all across the world who have social change projects – projects that plan to positively impact the world we live in. These projects range from providing educational resources to underfunded youth in New York to retrofitting motorcycles to serve as ambulances in Kenya. These delegates come equipped with their projects –whether it be a mere idea or a fully-formed organization – and attend our summit held in the spring. Throughout the year, we as an organization meet and discuss the practice of social change, relate these practices to real-world problems, and build the summit and community in the process.
My first year in GES and my first year attending the summit was one that I will never forget. The delegates and staff alike were incredibly welcoming and excited to discuss issues with such respect and fervor. Through these discussions, I quickly realized that my interests aligned with GES’s mission: to foster a community that supports social change. Not only had I, through GES, found new friends and ideas, but I also was able to connect my seemingly disparate interests into a coherent career. All of this growth made possible through a club I joined junior year; all of this growth made possible when I thought I was finished learning in college.
My time at Northwestern has been filled with wonderful experiences and moments. The fraternity I joined my freshman year still serves as my main bedrock here. The group of friends I met through my residential college are still some of the closest friends I have. And I will always be grateful for how much I learned during my first year at Northwestern. However, the discoveries of my junior year have been just as crucial for my love of Northwestern and I have The Global Engagement Summit to thank for that.