|Dates:||September 15 – December 13|
*Airfare for international and in-country flights additional
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- Help to Ensure the Survival and Conservation of the Himalayan Snow Leopard
- 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
- Partner with an Organization Working to Conserve the Indian Sloth Bear
- Settle into Daily Life in a Homestay in the Indian Himalayas
- Trek the Peaks and Valleys of Nepal’s Annapurna Mountain Range
- Live and Work on a Sustainable Women’s Cooperative Farm in Rural Nepal
- Ride a Camel on a Multi-Day Trek in the Thar Desert & Surf Goa’s Beginner Breaks
Embark on the journey of a lifetime as we experience the rich cultures, numerous religions, ancient histories, and indefatigable energy of Nepal and India. We begin our India and Nepal Gap Program, Himalaya, by venturing to a region rarely touched by outsiders, and set our base for three weeks amidst the Indian Himalayas, joining forces with an NGO working to reform the Ladakhi education system. Coming together with two different environmental organizations, we work hand in hand with local conservationists to study the threats to survival of the majestic snow leopard and the endangered sloth bear. 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 Nepali children. Welcomed into a community farm of empowered women in rural Nepal, we learn about the benefits of sustainable agriculture and women’s empowerment. After living in and exploring two of the world’s most fascinating countries, we leave our semester with broader perspectives and a new fascination for this part of the world.
Gap Orientation in California
We begin our semester with a Gap orientation in San Francisco, California. After a welcoming BBQ with all ARCC Gap programs, we settle into our India and Nepal Gap Program group by getting to know one another and our instructors. Together we map out our itinerary and set both individual and group goals for the duration of the program. We introduce our curriculum and brainstorm ideas for our individual Capstone projects, all the while coming together as a traveling community.
Orientation & Leh Exploration
We fly together through Delhi to a small town in Northern India located in the Ladakh Province of 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 a place so entirely different from anything we have experienced before, 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. We are welcomed into the homes of locals for a short homestay. As we share meals with our new 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 for our next project in Ladakh.
Snow Leopard Conservation
We settle back into the picturesque town of Leh, eager to begin our partnership with an organization working diligently to conserve the endangered Snow Leopard of the Indian Himalayas. Here we have the opportunity to shadow researchers in their efforts to map snow leopard habitat in the region of Ladakh, gaining a deeper understanding of the human-wildlife conflict that has contributed to the decline of the snow leopard population. We learn more about the various threats to conservation here, working with the locals on their community-based environmental education program for rural Ladakh initiative. 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. After a few days of conservation work, we say a brief farewell to India as we head on to explore our next section of the program in Nepal.
Orientation, Kathmandu Exploration & Migrant Center
We fly together to Kathmandu, Nepal where we are welcomed by our local partners and settle into our guesthouse in the beautiful historic district of Bhaktapur. Here we orient ourselves to Nepali culture 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 and 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.
Women’s Cooperative Farm
After experiencing a few days of city life in Nepal, we venture out to spend some time on a rural farming cooperative. In partnership with a local organization this project gives us the opportunity to explore the Environment and Conservation theme through studying sustainable farming efforts, while also looking at gender issues in Nepal. This farm is a safe place for women who have experienced the inherent gender inequalities that come along with being a woman in Nepal. Here we have the opportunity to shadow the women in the field, working to grow all of their own food. We spend time in the clinic on-site to deepen our understanding of rural health care, while also learning more about the women-run radio station they have created at the cooperative in partnership with their microfinance training opportunities. In the afternoons we play soccer with the many children living at the farm, playing games and taking in the breathtaking sights of the Nepali Himalayas. Through all this, we build our knowledge of environmental and gender issues in Nepal.
Pokhara and the Nepali Himalayas
Leaving our new home on the farm behind, we make our way northwest to Pokhara, a gateway to the Nepali Himalayas. Eagerly anticipating the next five days on the trails, we gather the little gear we need and pack our bags for our trek into the breathtaking Himalayan Mountains. 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.
Buddhist Monastery Stay
Tired after a few days of trekking in the mountains, we have the opportunity to relax and reflect during our stay at a monastery in the moutains. Here we learn the great practice of meditation, shadowing the monks in their daily routines and learning more about one of the major religions of the world. We practice yoga and center ourselves for the remaining portion of the semester, reflecting upon the experiences we have had thus far and looking forward to the many adventures ahead.
Bustling Delhi, Indian Cooking Class & the Nizamuddin Slum
After a short flight back 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 programs 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.
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.
The Taj Mahal & Sloth Bear Conservation
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. With this project we now have the opportunity to compare conservation efforts here to those we witnessed with the snow leopard in Ladakh. After spending time learning about these two rare and fascinating creatures, we leave our time here with a newfound appreciation for these conservation efforts.
Camel Trek, Pushkar Camel Fest, & Teaching
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.
We then head on to a community that our partners have been working with for a number of years now, where we are once again welcomed into the homes of community members for a short homestay. In this community we get to try our hands at teaching, working with the children in the local school to teach English lessons and step into the role of an educator, meanwhile gaining a deeper understanding of the education system in different parts of India.
Goan Beaches and Departure
Saying a sad farewell to beautiful Rajasthan, we make our way South to the beaches of Goa, where we enjoy some of India’s beautiful coastline and beaches. We try our hand at surfing some of the beginner breaks of the southern coast, taking lessons from experienced surfers in the region. 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.
*Please note that the order of the countries and of the projects is subject to change depending on your group assignment.
“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