June 24 to July 11, 2019
Los Angeles, California
This rapidly expanding industrial hub not only has over 14 million residents, but it also has over 2000 years of history. Guided by our hosts, the group will spend the first days visiting cultural sites, including a panda-breeding center, before driving to the city of Kangding on the Tibetan plateau. At this point, the group will begin to work directly with SStS’s non-profit partner, the Tibetan Village Project (TVP). TVP is an organization dedicated to promoting social entrepreneurship while preserving the rich cultural heritage of Tibet through projects that are locally supported and sustained. After a night in Kangding, the group will travel to Tagong, a village in the scenic Kham region, to visit a centuries-old monastery and learn more about Buddhist traditions. Students may also spend time with children living at an orphanage that TVP supports. Then, the group will head to Dora, where the TVP staff will introduce the group to their projects.
The first service project will focus on supporting TVP’s women’s health initiative. While in Dora, the group will work with a local women’s group to produce self-care sanitary kits that will help reduce the hygiene-related illnesses which are prevalent in rural villages. After a few days, the group will travel to the nearby village of Yolongshi to begin their second project. They will partner with residents to plant native species of trees that will protect the environment by preventing soil erosion and eventually provide essential building materials and firewood. While in both villages, the students will live with local families. This experience will create the opportunity to be fully immersed in the lives of traditional Tibetan villagers. In addition to directly observing the daily rhythms of this ancient culture, the group will spend time hiking in the magnificent Tibetan landscape. Finally, before returning to Chengdu, students may also have the opportunity to meet some nomadic families and visit the Sihurong monastery. In many ways, the contrasts that the students will experience between life on the Tibetan plateau and in the bustling industrial city of Chengdu will help them to better understand the meaning of leadership and the divergent forces at work in the rapidly changing nation of China.
*This course occurs in western Sichuan Province, not in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, which has been the center of recent unrest. Sihurong is over 1000 miles from Lhasa.
The mission of the Tibetan Village Project is to create sustainable livelihoods for Tibetans through social entrepreneurship and educational opportunities. To learn more, please visit their website.
The group will focus on supporting TVP’s women’s health initiative. They will also plant native trees to protect the fragile environment of the Tibetan Plateau. A day may also be spent working with the boys living at TVP’s Tagong Thangka Center.
Prior to their travels, students complete a series of online activities (30 minutes each). While traveling, they also read engaging articles, participate in cultural experiences, and create presentations in small groups.
Because the group will spend most of their time in relatively remote villages on the Tibetan Plateau, portions of several days will be spent exploring cultural sites and scenic Himalayan grasslands on foot. Students should be physically prepared for lengthy day hikes at high altitude.
While at the rural project site, the students will live, in groups, with Tibetan families in traditional homes. While in Chengdu and Kangding, they will stay in simple hotels. A night might also be spent in a monastery.
After spending a couple days in Chengdu, the group will spend a day driving to Kangding, which is on the Tibetan Plateau. They will then drive to a few other villages in this area before returning to Chengdu for the final days of the course.
Students have the unique opportunity to spend over a week living as the guests of Tibetan families in the villages of Yolongshi and Dora.
The group will spend a majority of the days in small rural towns and villages such as Sihurong, Yolongshi, and Tagong. However, the first and last days of the course are spent in the city of Chengdu, which has over 14 million residents.
During the travel phase of each SStS course, students spend time reflecting about the learning that occurs through their immersion and service experiences. These posts capture the impact of our programs on individual students. Explore the posts below to learn about the SStS Tibet program from the important viewpoint of our students.