June 24 to July 10, 2020
San Francisco, 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, lively pedestrian streets, and a Tibetan Arts center. Next, the group will drive 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. The course will expose students to the Tibetan nomadic way of life, teaching them the importance of their community structures, and how the local economy plays into their culture.
Students will visit monasteries, learn from local monks, and go to a nomadic resettlement project. The group will also spend time at local shops to gain a further understanding of the local economy. Then, the group will head to Dora, where they will learn about the preservation of architecture in the region. The next day in Dora, the group will meet with a Tibetan doctor to learn more about Tibetan medicines. Students will also spend time in Yoloshi visiting previous SStS projects to gain an understanding of the impact and work on future improvements to be done. Students will close the learning service aspect of the course by spending time working with nomadic communities in Tibet and living with local families. In addition to directly observing the daily rhythms of this ancient culture, the group will spend time hiking in the magnificent Tibetan landscape. 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.
Students will focus on learning service with TVP spending time at ongoing TVP projects. This course will allow students to learn about the Tibetan nomadic way of life, teaching them the importance of nomadic community structures, and how the local economy plays into this Tibetan culture.
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.