Looking to complete your second-tier service requirement AND travel abroad this summer? Sign up for the Tulane Himalayan Experience!
Last spring I went back and forth in my head about how I wanted to spend the summer going into my senior year. Most of my friends had internships lined up, which felt like how I should be spending my summer rather than what I really wanted. After spending the fall semester studying abroad in South Africa, I couldn’t help but want to keep experiencing new cultures, places and people. I came across the Center for Public Service’s month-long program in India, which is an intensive-service learning program and 3-credit class (PHIL 3930: Philosophies of Nonviolence and Ecology). This turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had at Tulane and was a chance to engage in an intensive international program during the summer.
So what will you do on this one month of traveling throughout Northern India?
Attend a public teaching from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
This was a surreal experience as thousands of people, mainly Tibetan Buddhists, gathered to practice, observe or respect the teachings of HH the Dalai Lama.
Bring our your inner Yogi.
Well this part is optional, but really was one of my favorite aspects of the program. We did yoga every morning, many times on the roof of whatever guesthouse or residence we stayed at. You also have the chance to learn about the culture of Vedic Yoga and participate in traditional meditation practices. What better place to do yoga than the rooftop of an Ashram in the yoga capital of the world?
Experience the streets of Delhi.
Both exhilarating and exciting-the vibrancy and excitement in Delhi is truly unlike anywhere else. (Prepare for some ~funky~ smells as you walk through the streets of Delhi)
Bringing your meditation to a whole new game, you will meditate in ancient, holy caves.
Become BFFs with your language partner while in Dharmasala.
You spend the most time in Dharmasala working with LHA Charitable Trust, which is one of the largest Tibetan social work institutes that provides countless resources for Tibetan refugees, individuals from the Himalayan region and the local Indian population. You will be paired with an LHA student to serve as a language/conversation partner, which ends up being a super informal opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences and perspectives. My language partner shared with me her own individual experience coming to India as a young Tibetan refugee, which was an unexplainable opportunity.
Check the Taj Mahal off your bucket list
You’ll visit more Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples in one month than you have your entire life. Some of the most spectacular buildings I’ve ever seen – from the colors and patterns to the detailed architecture. I gained a whole new perspective on spiritual practices and religions that are so deeply engrained in many cultures throughout India.
Become attached to your backpacking pack.
It will become both your best friend and worst nightmare (it actually really does fit more than it looks like). We traveled by foot, car, train, bus and even rickshaw to almost 10 different cities throughout India so the backpack is definitely needed to get you everywhere.
Bond with people that you may have never crossed paths with at Tulane.
You’re with the same people for 30 days traveling through India, so expect to be seen at both your best and your worst! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that has so much power to change the way you see the world, as long as you let it.
You’ll do a 3-day trek through the Himalayas (search Triund Trek).
It’s about a 6 mile hike up to Triund, where you’ll camp and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Himalayas. You then have the option to continue trekking another couple miles up to the snowline at Laka Glacier (who would’ve thought you’d be playing in the snow on a glacier in India). If you don’t struggle with elevation sickness, be sure to make it up here- the view is unlike anything you’ve ever seen! This was hands down my favorite part of the trip.
P.S. Don’t forget to apply for grants/scholarships offered both by Tulane and outside sources-this was a huge help in funding my trip!
Application due by March 1st!!!! Click here to Apply!
Maya Curto is the head of our NOLA 360 editorial team, and a Communications and Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship major. She loves exploring new spots in New Orleans, and went bungee jumping during her time abroad in South Africa!