By Judy Tsai
Diego Henriquez-Garcia is a senior from Fort Lauderdale, FL, majoring in political science and international studies. Before becoming co-director, he was co-chair of Content Development his junior year, co-chair of American Delegates his sophomore year, and started out his GES career as a freshman on the International Delegates team.
Kyle Allen-Niesen, from Los Angeles, CA, is also a senior majoring in political science and international studies. As a freshman, he was on the Outcomes team, Community Development sophomore year, and a co-chair of Alumni Relations junior year. You can find Diego in The Garage most of the time while Kyle likes hanging south in the Marjorie Weinberg Garden.
Get to know them!
How does your final year of GES differ from your first?
D: General staff involvement and caring about GES has increased from year to year. When I joined as a freshman, I didn’t feel like there was the same momentum and that people were willing to put in as much blood, sweat, and tears that they now do.
K: It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was just a freshman on Outcomes. It’s been a unique privilege as a co-director to see everything that’s going on. It feels more professional now than it was two years ago, in a good way.
How does it feel to be a co-director? What does your job entail?
D: We make sure that every committee can do what they’re supposed to do well and that they feel supported and empowered to do so. Fundraising is a huge thing that we do. Guiding every staff member and co-chair to make the Summit bigger, better, and stronger than the last.
What changes are you bringing to the table this year?
K: Slack was definitely a big one. We also consolidated the teams; there used to be three other teams. We’re hoping to see some more delegates this year, potentially looking to revamp Engage a little bit to admit American delegates. And staff sharing is finally happening.
D: We also wanted to flatten out the hierarchy. We always want to give staff members the option of giving input. It’s also to expose people to how and when these decisions are made. It’s helpful for everyone to be on the same page and when they apply to be co-chairs they’ll see the responsibility and what they’d be doing. One of the reasons why we wanted to be co-directors was because we saw the potential of the organization. So it doesn’t matter how scary it might be and if we might fail, we have to at least try.
So why Slack this year? (Slack is a team collaboration tool that GES staff now uses to communicate with each other)
K: Because in past years, one of the most difficult parts of GES was getting everyone on the same page. We used emails, GroupMe, texting, and it was all over the place. I was listening to my favorite podcast, 99% Invisible, and they were talking about how Slack is this great thing and a really interesting way to do internal team communication.
What will you be really sad about leaving behind?
D: The people and the vibe. The Summit gives you hope. You get together with 100 people our age and they’re making the world better in their each and own way and it’s a little harder to be a cynic when you realize that for every one bad influence there’s two and three people trying to make it better.
K: The people. I think GES is some of the most fun and interesting and dynamic people that I’ve ever met at NU and they’ve pushed me to be a better person intellectually and taught me how to help people.
GES event you’re most looking forward to this year? (Other than the Summit, of course)
D: Dessert Wars is amazing. Retreat is the best. Last year, we got a ton of work done but we also do a lot of campy bonding activities, which I love.
K: I love Dessert Wars. I guess I’ll say Engage, which is the few days before the Summit where international delegates come in and experience Chicago and see it for the first time. Getting the first chance to interact with them is super fun.
Worst class you’ve ever taken here?
K: Intro to International Relations. It was so bad. I’m still sad about it. It’s a pretty introductory topic but it was so horribly boring.
D: I took a survey course on Africa and it was anthropology and cultural trends. It ended up just being about music and Tanzania. I’m all about expectations. I want to know what I signed up for and I can just come in with the expectation.
Favorite ice cream flavor?
D: Rum raisin. People always hate on me for this.
K: Pistachio or green tea.
D: My friend says I remind him of the squirrel from Ice Age.
K: I would say I’m a dog in the sense that I’m loyal and protective of people I care about, but I also just want to hang out and be happy and run around. I think I’m pretty silly. My friends think that I’m a slow loris, specifically the one in this video.
What’s a weird talent you have?
D: I have a really mobile face.
K: I can do an Owen Wilson impression but it’s one word, “wow.”
Lastly, what’s your favorite thing about being co-director with each other?
D: I think we’re very similar in a lot of core ways but we disagree on pretty much everything else. On the basis of being friends with each other, we check each other a lot and that leads to better results. Let me put it this way– He’s one of the few people who I could sit in Norris with for 10 hours a day, 5 days in a row and not want to choke.
K: He is just a total dynamic runaway train of a human being with almost boundless energy and thoughtfulness. It’s a pleasure to work with him. I think I’m much more low energy than he is so he provides a lot of that force to stay on top of things. It’s made me a much more effective co-director. He is just a really impressive person.