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IndiaEducation & Energy in the Himalaya

Travel to Ladakh, India, this summer and immerse yourself in a Himalayan community, joining in daily life and collaborating on education and environmental projects. Support young Ladakhis at the community school as they prepare for college entrance exams, help harvest food from the organic farm, cook meals, and learn about climate change as you help maintain the school’s extensive solar energy system. Take an excursion to the bustling trade town of Leh on the Silk Road, visit Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and meet snow leopard conservationists. Travel to a village nestled in a Himalayan valley lined with apricot trees and barley fields to work alongside community members to build a passive solar community resource center.


June 22–July 15, 2023
24 days
$ 6,190 + airfare
Departs from New York
14–16 students, 2 leaders
Service40–60 hours


  • Collaborate to build a passive solar building in a Himalayan village
  • Observe sacred rituals in ancient Buddhist monasteries
  • Learn traditional Ladakhi songs and cook meals with Ladakhi students
  • Witness the golden light of sunrise on the majestic Taj Mahal

Meet featured leaders


This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.

  • Departure
  • Travel Day

Meet your fellow high school student travelers and one of your leaders in Newark and fly together to New Delhi, India. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

  • New Delhi
  • 1 Day

Begin in India’s capital city with a program orientation. Get to know your group, learn about key moments and figures in Indian history, and develop an appreciation for the fascinating complexities of Indian society today. Explore some of New Delhi’s iconic monuments such as Humayun’s Tomb, the Lotus Temple, or the Qutub Minar tower. Then visit a clothing shop specializing in handmade garments made from sustainably sourced materials. Outfit yourself in comfortable and culturally appropriate Indian clothing for your stay in the service village.

  • Phey, Ladakh
  • 7 Days

Fly from Delhi to Ladakh, situated high on the Tibetan plateau in the Himalayan mountains. Rising out of India’s northernmost region, the Himalayas are a vast stretch of craggy passes and snow-covered mountains, home to Mount Everest, Earth’s highest mountain above sea level. Near the lively trade town of Leh, where whitewashed houses are nestled in a lush valley ringed by jagged peaks and fluttering prayer flags, acclimatize to the altitude (11,500 feet) at a vibrant community school. Help young Ladakhis prepare for college entrance exams and join in their daily routine—cooking meals, tending sustainable gardens, and helping the school maintain its solar energy system. Get to know the students while discussing current affairs and exchanging cultural traditions. Throughout the week, take part in excursions to Buddhist monasteries, learn about renewable energy projects with local conservationists, and visit organizations that promote sustainable development. Share a final farewell dance party and make delicious mok moks (traditional dumplings) together.

  • Rural Village Service Project
  • 9 Days

Set out for a rural village nestled deep in a mountain valley. Stay in warm homestays with local families and several of your group members, and work alongside community members to form earth bricks for constructing a passive solar community resource center that will benefit the village for years to come. Learn about climate change and community resilience as you repair traditional irrigation canals, harvest food for your meals, and hike around the valley to enjoy the rugged Himalayan vistas.

  • Leh
  • 2 Days

After saying goodbye and celebrating with your new friends in the host village, travel back to the bustling town of Leh—the joint capital and largest city in Ladakh—to take in the ancient architecture, labyrinthine bazaar, and towering palaces. Indulge in a group dinner of Ladakhi cuisine under the stars.

  • New Delhi
  • 1 Day

Return to Delhi, visit iconic historical sites and craft museums and do some final shopping in the bazaars and markets.

  • Agra
  • 1 Day

Spend the final night of your program in Agra. Enjoy a celebratory meal with your group and reflect on your shared experiences in India. Cap your journey with a sunrise visit to the majestic Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and watch how its white marble exterior changes color depending on the time of day.

  • Return
  • Travel Day

Fly with your group and a leader from New Delhi, India, to Newark, then continue on to your final destination. To learn more about how we organize travel, click here.

"I assumed that I would learn a lot from our physical community service project, but it went much farther than that. I could never have predicted how meaningful the relationships I formed with locals and the group would be."

— Liza H., The Beacon School, New York, NY

A Day in the Life: Host Village

  • Due to the traveling nature of this student program abroad, each day is different. Here is a snapshot of a day in the host village.
  • Eat breakfast together as a group
  • Work on service projects like building with earth bricks, harvesting vegetables, and repairing water canals
  • Break for a long lunch and rest time
  • Continue on your service projects
  • Prepare dinner with host families, play traditional games, learn a craft, or relax under an apricot tree
  • Enjoy dinner together as a group
  • Group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule

View Photo Gallery

What to Expect

  • Service

During your travels in India, you can expect to participate in several different volunteer service projects—construction projects where you may learn to construct a passive solar community building, environmental projects such as harvesting crops or shadowing local farmers, and educational projects such as helping local high school students in preparation for their exams. All students participate in each of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. The focus of this summer program in India is learning about another culture by forming meaningful relationships with local people and undertaking a shared community service experience together. You should come to the summer with an open mind, eager to participate in new experiences and interested in exploring another culture and way of life. To learn more about our Service programs, click here.

  • Independent Project

Pursue an independent project and explore an aspect of local culture of particular interest to you—religion, gender roles, cultural events, local folklore, music, or the function of the local political structure or education system.

  • Physical Activity

This is a physically active summer travel program. You can expect to work on service projects, play with local youth, explore our host community on foot, go on hikes, play a pick-up game of frisbee, or prepare our group’s meals. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

  • Altitude

This program visits high altitude destinations—Phey is approximately 10,500 feet above sea level, and our host village is closer to 11,500 feet.

  • Accommodations

At the school, we stay in dormitory-style rooms with other group members in passive solar buildings designed to stay cool during the day and warm at night. In our host village, we stay in ancient whitewashed homes. The small and picturesque village is the home of the descendants of families that moved in generations ago. While some of the buildings show the effects of their age, they retain a warm and inviting presence. In New Delhi and Agra, we stay in small but very comfortable hotels. Leaders reside in the same residences with the students throughout the program.

  • Meals

While at the school, students work in cooking crews along with our hosts and lend a hand with preparing traditional Ladakhi dishes. They also assist the host community families with cooking while at the village. During excursions, we eat at restaurants that feature delicious Indian cuisine.

Explore the Destination

"I had another amazing Putney summer with great new friends, wonderful leaders, and unforgettable activities and experiences."

— Kaylee C., Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, Atlanta, GA

Next Steps

This program is directed by Julian Hartmann-Russell. If you have questions or would like to talk further about this program, please get in touch!

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