Global Engagement Summit to return virtually this weekend for first time since 2019


Photo courtesy of Charlotte Tauss

The annual Global Engagement Summit will return this weekend.

Michelle Hong, Reporter

Global Engagement Summit will return virtually this weekend after last year’s conference was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual summit on social entrepreneurship will be the first time the student-run group will convene since 2019, and delegates from countries including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Afghanistan will attend workshops, speaker events and connect with Chicago professionals.

Although most of the weekend’s agenda is reserved to GES members, Friday’s keynote speech by tech nonprofit Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani will be open to all Northwestern students.

“The whole goal of the summit is to help them grow their projects and enhance their impact and kind of change the world through them,” Charlotte Tauss, GES co-director and Weinberg senior, said.

Tauss said the group meets regularly to discuss entrepreneurial solutions for systemic social issues, such as gender equality, education, climate change and healthcare.

Before the pandemic, the group’s activities culminated in the summit every Spring Quarter, when the organization invited young social entrepreneurs from all over the world to campus for its week-long social innovation conference, Tauss said.

With the safety of their community in mind regarding COVID-19, GES condensed the week-long summit to a weekend this year, moving all events entirely online.

Although this structure differs from past versions, GES Content Co-Chair Sai Nadimpalli said the virtual format brings its own benefits, including increased financial accessibility to international delegates.

“We’re really excited because all those travel costs and visa issues and those barriers to participation we’ve encountered in the past have kind of gone away,” the SESP senior said. “We actually have our biggest delegate pool for as long as I’ve been in the club.”

GES will host 61 delegates this year, more than double the number of expected attendees for the 2020 conference before its cancellation.

Isaac Damian Ezirim, a Nigerian delegate, is the founder of Teens Can Code, an organization dedicated to providing technology opportunities to young people in Africa. Joining his second summit — he participated in 2019 as well — Ezirim looks forward to the mentoring and networking opportunities from industry professionals.

“My mentors were in the tech space (last time) so that made a lot of impact on my project,” Ezirim said. “It starts with the countries coming together in the same space to discuss an idea. It’s really amazing.”

Tauss and Nadimpallii, both seniors, said they are disappointed this will be their last summit.

Tauss said interacting with past summit delegates has given her hope that the global community will be able to tackle numerous issues such as the pandemic, climate change, racial injustice and more.

“Meeting these people and getting to know them and knowing that they’re actively working to change these things that I’m terrified about is in some ways so comforting to know that there are really good people out there that are doing amazing things,” Tauss said.

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