Eastern Himalayas

West Bengal to Sikkim

A 4-week Summer Abroad Program

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Duration
31 Days
Description

Experience the warm hospitality of remote mountain communities: work with local artists and healers, and gain insight into the myriad spiritual traditions of the Eastern Himalaya.

Dates

Jun 28 - Jul 28, 2020


Suggested Ages

16-18

Number of Participants

12


Availability

Closed

Begins In

18 Weeks

Land Cost

$7,695


Estimated Flight Cost

$2,120

Kanchenjunga

Gangtok

Kalimpong

Program Overview

Nestled deep in the eastern end of the great Himalayan mountain range, West Bengal and Sikkim are Indian states that sit snugly between Nepal and Bhutan.


The tension between modern influences and traditional values is strikingly apparent in this region, as various ethnic groups work to safeguard their heritage amidst the draw of globalization and development. Dragons students engage with local communities and explore ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions, gaining insight into the age-old wisdom that has held Himalayan people together for centuries. Our course begins in northern West Bengal, an area renowned for its fine tea, that serves as an introduction to the cultures and traditions of the region. Amidst verdant hills of tea plantations ready to be plucked, we learn about the living blend of religious and cultural traditions which rival the beauty of the landscapes.

Program Highlights
  • Gain deep insights into Himalayan religious traditions living and learning alongside Buddhist and Hindu communities in homestays and in a monastery retreat
  • Witness ecological threats catalyzed by climate change and meet…

The tension between modern influences and traditional values is strikingly apparent in this region, as various ethnic groups work to safeguard their heritage amidst the draw of globalization and development. Dragons students engage with local communities and explore ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions, gaining insight into the age-old wisdom that has held Himalayan people together for centuries. Our course begins in northern West Bengal, an area renowned for its fine tea, that serves as an introduction to the cultures and traditions of the region. Amidst verdant hills of tea plantations ready to be plucked, we learn about the living blend of religious and cultural traditions which rival the beauty of the landscapes.

Program Highlights
  • Gain deep insights into Himalayan religious traditions living and learning alongside Buddhist and Hindu communities in homestays and in a monastery retreat
  • Witness ecological threats catalyzed by climate change and meet local activists working to protect their land.
  • Experience seldom-visited communities in India to gain a nuanced understanding of the country’s vast cultural diversity

In Kalimpong, we live with homestay families and work with local mentors, taking up apprenticeships with artists, musicians, healers, cultivators, and practitioners of Hinduism, Buddhism, and types of shamanism. We delve more deeply into Buddhism by sitting in mediation for short retreat at a local monastery, complementing our more theoretical understanding of the religion with personal practice. Heading further into the hills, we witness Sikkim’s incredible biodiversity, with day hikes through lush forests with potential views of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak, when monsoon rains abate.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

5/5
Comparative Religion

Explore the philosophy and spiritual practices of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism through an investigation of yoga, meditation, and other daily practices.

4/5
Development Studies

Examine the impact of environmental issues, tourism, ethnicity, land management, education, gender issues and healthcare.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Take a look at ethnic and cultural diversity, religious traditions, and Sikkim’s rich artistic traditions.

4/5
Homestay

Spend 14 + days in home-stays with both rural and urban families.

5/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Choose a topic of interest and dive into a relationship with a mentor in Kalimpong. Options include music, dance, wood carving, jewelry making, bronze casting, religious traditions, traditional cooking, Tibetan or Ayurvedic medicine.

1/5
Language Study

Learn Nepali language through daily classes and language immersion throughout.

2/5
Learning Service

Volunteer on community projects during rural homestay or pursue learning service activities during ISP time.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Travel by bus and van through mountainous terrain with our time split between urban and rural areas.

2/5
Trekking

Dependent on weather conditions, there may be a 3-day easygoing hike in the middle hills. During summer months the southern slope of the Himalayas is blanketed in monsoon rains, making trekking at higher altitudes more challenging.