|Dates:||September 15 – December 13|
*Airfare for international and in-country flights additional
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- Build and Install Life-Changing Clean Water Systems in rural Nepal
- Work with a NGO that Supports Street Children in the Slums of Kathmandu
- Watch the Sun Rise over the World-Renowned Taj Mahal
- Settle into Daily Life in a 10-Day Homestay in India’s Mountainous Ladakh Province
- Trek the Peaks and Valleys of Nepal’s Annapurna Mountain Range
- Live and Work on a Sustainable Farm in Rural India
- Ride a Camel on a Multi-Day Trek in the Thar Desert & Surf Goa’s Beginner Breaks
- Study Public Health in the Ghats of the Ganges River in Varanasi
Embark on the journey of a lifetime as we experience the rich cultures, numerous religions, ancient histories, and indefatigable energy of India and Nepal. We begin our India and Nepal Gap Program, Himalaya, by venturing to a region rarely touched by outsiders, we set our base for three weeks amidst the Indian Himalayas, joining forces with an NGO working to reform the Ladakhi education system. Welcomed into a homestay, we experience a day in the life of a rural Indian in the 21st century. Trekking through the mystical mountain trails of Annapurna, we test our endurance inspired by the glacial peaks of the Nepali Himalayas. Partnering with an organization providing health care and resources to migrant workers, we study urbanization and public health issues facing a Kathmandu slum. Rising early from our Ashram for morning yoga, we spend our days leading classes on nutrition and facilitating English conversation with eager Indian children. Building clean water filters and sanitary systems in a rural Nepali village, we see the immediate effects of our hard work and know that our efforts will have a lasting impact. After living in and exploring two of the world’s most fascinating countries, we leave our semester with broader perspectives and a new excitement to learn.
Orientation, Kathmandu Exploration and Migrant Center
We begin the Himalaya: Nepal & India gap year semester in San Francisco where we jump right into our orientation. We spend a couple days getting to know one another, mapping out our itinerary and introducing our curriculum, before flying as a group to Kathmandu, Nepal. Upon arrival we settle into our guesthouse in the beautiful historic district of Bhaktapur, where we orient ourselves to Nepal and explore the narrow cobblestone streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, while getting a chance to use our basic Nepali language skills. We also prepare for our first project with a migrant services organization in the city.
Jumping right into our first themes, Urbanization & the Movements of People, and Microfinance and Economic Growth, we begin our work with a small and inspiring NGO that is working to provide services and resources to families, especially children, who are living on the outskirts of Kathmandu. We have the opportunity to provide homework support to middle and high school students, while also participating in discussions on the rights of migrants and the economic and health challenges facing this marginalized population.
In the evenings we continue to come together as a traveling community, setting both individual and group goals for the duration of the program. Our preparation includes further discussion of our curriculum, including identifying where each of our five essential themes will occur, and touching on preliminary ideas for our Capstone Projects.
Pokhara and the Nepali Himalayas
Leaving Kathmandu behind, we make our way northwest to Pokhara, a gateway to the Nepali Himalayas. Eagerly anticipating the next seven days on the trails, we gather the little gear we need and pack our bags for our trek into the breathtaking Himalayan Mounains. Hiking through small villages, feasting on the local dahl bat, and sleeping in small teahouses, we step into a world of astounding beauty and simplicity. Gaining a glimpse into the lives of locals, we have the opportunity to interview porters and guides who make their livelihood trekking these mountain trails and sharing their remote world with eager and adventurous foreigners. Taking advantage of the local knowledge around us, we complete a study on the environmental changes taking place in the Annapurna Range, and learn about sustainable efforts to curb environmental and cultural degradation.
Kumari Village Health
Feeling accomplished after our Nepali trek, we take a couple days to rest before we travel to the rural community of Kumari. Here we settle into our homestay accommodations with local families before taking a tour of the village health clinic, the site of our next service project. Focusing on Public Health and Education we have the opportunity to learn about rural Nepali healthcare by shadowing nurses and helping with basic tasks in the center. In the afternoons we provide educational lessons on hygiene, nutrition and basic sanitation and assist in classes that provide basic life skills to local women. Forming close bonds with the welcoming village members of Kumari, our time here is rich in culture. When the time comes to leave, we’re sad to say our goodbyes.
Bustling Delhi and the Nizamuddin Slum
After a short flight to India, we take our first steps into the bustling, honking, vibrant, never-ceasing streets of Delhi. Welcomed by our local partners, we take part in a thorough orientation, which will set the groundwork for the rest of our semester. Then we take to the streets of Old and New Delhi! Finding ourselves surrounded by life as we’ve never seen it before, we soak up our new home, slowly becoming accustomed to the sights, sounds, smells and workings of this renowned city. Biking through Delhi’s back alleys at dawn, wandering its endless bazaars during the day, and perching atop its rooftops at dusk, we can’t help but find charm in the chaos of this city. We visit a local non-profit in one of Delhi’s largest slums, where we learn about microfinance lending through an inner-city thrift and credit program and have the opportunity to interview youth from the slum who have participated in the vocational training program offered. When not conducting interviews or participating in class, we tour the slum. Led by our new friends we get a feel for this industrial community living on the fringes.
The Taj Mahal, Bear Conservation & Varanasi
Leaving Delhi behind, we head east to the magnificent Taj Mahal. A Wonder of the World, there’s nothing quite so special as a sunrise over the Taj. With cameras fully charged, we wander the site, learning its history and taking pictures of its grandeur. Satisfied with our visit, we make our way to the largest bear conservatory in the world, where we spend a few days working alongside bear keepers learning about conservation efforts for the Indian Sloth Bear.
Continuing our journey West we find ourselves in Varanasi, home of the Ganges river and its famous ghats. For a week we hone in on the Public Health theme, getting a feel for India’s health care system, while simultaneously glimpsing two of India’s most-famous religious practices, the age-old tradition of cleansing, and of cremations, in the Varanasi ghats.
Leh & Education
Leaving Varanasi behind, we board a short flight for Northern India and the Ladakh Province in the Indian Himalayas. Stepping off the plane we find ourselves surrounded by the vast, mountainous landscapes so unique to northern India. Settling into the picturesque Tibetan town of Leh, we take a few days to acclimatize to the altitude, exploring the charming town squares and visiting its surrounding monasteries. Finding ourselves in an entirely different world from Delhi, we soak up the serenity of our new home. Once acclimatized, we leave Leh behind and head into the remote countryside of Ladakh, where, after several hours of driving, we come to a tiny town surrounded by grazing yaks. We set up base camp in the village and begin our education project building libraries, assisting in classrooms and constructing playgrounds at a rural government school. Sharing meals with the local families, we form close bonds with the members of this community and feel a sense of accomplishment as we see the results of our hard work. After a final evening celebration with our new friends, we make our way back to Leh and prepare for our final project in India.
Farming & the Indian Himalayas
In partnership with a local organization our final project of the semester gives us the opportunity to explore the Environment and Conservation theme through studying sustainable farming efforts. Working in the fields alongside farmers we see farming techniques first hand, conducting site visits, we compare efforts and projects. Through all this, we build our knowledge of environmental issues in India. We spend a few days at a self-sustaining boarding high school outside of Leh that teaches sustainable education and living methods. Working alongside the students we help install solar panels for electricity, construct greenhouses for winter vegetation, and learn about the many other methods they implement to sustain themselves, especially during the cold winter months. Before jumping into our Capstone projects, we hoist our packs onto our backs and spend a few days in the Indian Himalayas, taking in the beauty and reflecting on all that we have learned these past few months.
Leaving the beautiful peaks of the Himalayas behind, we once more enter into the hubbub of Delhi. We spend a morning shopping in the food markets with local chefs, before trying our hands in the kitchen with an all-day cooking class. Experimenting with masala sauces, biryanis and the many varieties of delicious breads, both sweet and savory, we cook a feast of mouth-watering Indian cuisine, and tuck away recipes for future use upon our return home.
Camel Trek, Pushkar Camel Fest, Goan Beaches and Departure
No trip to India is complete without a visit to Rajasthan, the ‘Land of Kings.’ We leave our big bags behind as we embark on a multi-day journey by camel into the Thar Desert, sleeping under the star-strewn skies and soaking up the wilds of the desert. After a visit to the City Palace in Jaipur, we make our way South to Pushkar, arriving in time for the renowned annual Camel Festival! Greeted by the sights and sounds of thousands of Indians celebrating, we wander the bustling streets of this normally sleepy town, sampling traditional foods, observing religious ceremonies, bartering for turbans and other goods, and cheering on the contestants of India’s famed mustache competitions. After all that we’ve seen thus far in India, our glimpse of Indians on vacation shows an entirely different side of this fascinating country.
Saying a sad farewell to beautiful Pushkar, we make our way South to the beaches of Goa, where we enjoy some of India’s beautiful coastline and beaches. Reminiscing on our experiences, we round out our Capstone projects and reflections from these invigorating three months. The memories we have made will stay with us for the rest of our lives. As we savor the last moments of our India and Nepal Gap Program, we are excited to head home to share our newly gained knowledge and insights from our firsthand look at the global issues facing Nepal and India.
“Going on this trip with ARCC has made me appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given far more than I’d considered. Because of this I’m more driven to succeed in college as not a lot of people get the chance to receive a college level education.”— Peter H., Lancaster, PA, ARCC Gap Student
“You have a superb program! The impact ARCC had on our daughter was monumental and empowering.”— Parent of Acacia H., New York, NY
“The differences I can see in myself after this semester are indescribable. I have learned so much about not only myself, but about the world I live in. My eyes have been opened, and these experiences will stay with me forever, and continue to shape the way I live my life.”— Sedona L., Franklin Hills, NJ, ARCC Gap Student
“We immediately noted a new maturity with Erin — a gratefulness for the abundance to which she has access here in the US, less tendency toward small dramas, even more empathy for others than before. Erin feel more well traveled now and aware of global happenings and issues.”— Parent of Erin P., Fort Collins, CO
“The cultural exposure was one of my favorite aspects of this trip. I felt like I was living the true ways of the people of those countries.”— Sedona L., Franklin Hills, NJ, ARCC Gap Student
“Doing a semester with ARCC was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I learned a lot about myself, had one of the greatest experiences of my life, gained new skills, and made tons of new friendships around the world, but also in my group.”— Connor M., Dallas, GA, ARCC Gap Student
“I didn’t realize how much I love to learn until I came here, now I am excited to go back and start college.”— Jessie H., El Dorado Hills, CA, ARCC Gap Student
“She didn’t want to come home! I think that says it all.”— Meredith B., Raleigh, NC, ARCC Gap Student
“I cannot tell you how excited I am that she chose your organization.”— Parent of Rachel S., Gap Student