- Kathmandu, Nepal
- Program Type:
- Study Abroad
- Degree Level:
- Fall Semester, Spring Semester
- Program Description:
- Examine Tibetan and Himalayan history and culture, Buddhism, and the pressing contemporary issues facing communities in exile, particularly in the case of Tibet.
Through thematic lectures and field work, students explore issues of cultural preservation, religious revival, and sub-regional geopolitics and are challenged to consider the contemporary and historic linkages connecting different Himalayan communities. Questions of self-identification and recognition, as well as issues of diaspora, exile, and migration, are important topics for analysis in this program.
From the program base in Nepal, students gain access to a rich array of academic resources throughout the Kathmandu Valley and beyond, learning from prominent Tibetan and Newar Buddhist scholars, as well as regional, ethnic (Sherpa and Tamang), and community experts.
Access Virtual Library Guide This interdisciplinary program balances an overview of traditional Tibetan culture, emphasizing history and Buddhism, with the analysis of some of the most pressing contemporary issues in exile, as well as in Tibet (or, alternatively, Ladakh). Students learn appropriate field methodology through the Field Study Seminar, ultimately leading toward their Independent Study Project. Language instruction provides students with basic understanding of Tibetan and a window into its history and culture.
Please inquire for costs: Fees include tuition, full room and board, all field trips and related fares, health and accident insurance, and other direct program expenses. Participants pay for international airfare and domestic travel to the point of departure from the USA.
- Setting Description:
- The Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples program examines the myriad factors—including historical, religious, economic, and political forces—that have shaped, and continue to shape, the diverse Himalayan communities inhabiting Nepal, northern India, and the Tibetan Autonomous Region in China. Particular emphasis is placed on societies of Tibetan/Himalayan Buddhist cultures.
Additional Program Information
- Scholarships Description:
- Please see our website for more information.
Based on 11 Reviews
- Four Life Changing Months at Altitude03/17/20
This program was challenging in the best sense of the word. If you are a fan of the liberal arts model of education--one that strives to challenge innate assumptions and preconceived notions of the world through the critical study of historical and contemporary
realities--this program is for you. While the program is topically and predominately about the geopolitics and the modern political conditions of Tibetan peoples, Isabelle Onians (the director) uses this specific material to craft a curriculum that expands and complicates the student's conception of nationhood, citizenship and cultural identity. Isabelle's lectures are brilliant and reveal a deep learning and whip-sharp intellect that she gathers together and unleashes on the small classroom in surprising and inspiring ways throughout the semester. Participation was less mandatory than irresistible. I would consider Isabelle's teaching some of the finest in all my years as a student, and still, several years later, think about how her course shifted my thinking. Additionally, I gained a profound insight into the lived experiences of a people who I had previously only read about, or could have pointed to on a map but did not know in any real or meaningful sense. I had been abroad a small amount as a teenager with my family, and though I followed international events and cared about global politics, I had never before so fully felt a witness and a part of the world not as an American, or a millennial, or a college students, or even a political activist, but as a person. I saw what were hands down the most beautiful landscapes I've ever encountered--before and after. I ate fantastic Nepali and Tibetan food, and studied a difficult and exciting new language. I gained an insight into Buddhism as a lived practice and not merely a philosophy to be studied by college students, scholars and Western-atheists. And I made friendships with my peers, my teachers, and with local people that I still hold dear to this day. This past year I went to one of my co-SIT student's weeding; I still maintain, four years after my time at SIT, a deep correspondence with my writing advisor from the program. I feel a better, wiser, more empowered and engaged person as a result of my time with SIT in Nepal, and have not ceased to be grateful for my experience there since I left.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- A challenging experience in a unique part of the world02/02/20
My time on this program was personally and intellectually the most formative semester in my undergraduate education. The instructors were wise and kind, pushing me and my peers to challenge ourselves intellectually while providing superb support; the
Tibetan language instruction was top-level, with daily opportunities to practice with local Tibetans and my homestay family; and the opportunity to conduct a month-long research project on a subject of my choosing helped me grown in confidence and build ethnographic research skills. I made friends for life, visited some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, and got to immerse myself in Tibetan and Nepali communities, learning for the first time about these wonderful cultures. I honestly can't recommend this program highly enough.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Incredible Opportunity for Cultural Exchange01/04/20
I came in fairly ignorant of Tibetan culture and history and left with not only a greater understanding of that, but also with friendships that I hope will last long after the 4 months of the program. This was the best decision I made in college. It
is impossible to know what my experience would have been like in other programs, but in speaking to friends who went elsewhere I can say that the experience I had in Nepal was unique. It was challenging and the greatest learning experience of my life.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- A Life-Altering Experience12/21/19
The SIT Study Abroad Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples program was much more impactful on my life than I thought it would be. Of utmost importance in this was the way the academic staff handled the course topics. The SIT academic staff created
a curriculum emphasizing the true complexity of Tibetan and Himalayan socio-cultural and religious politics. This is not an easy task and indeed required the guidance of individuals who have spent their lives living and specializing in the region. Classes were overseen by experts who made sure to indicate the ambiguities of sovereignty, territory, and cultures across borders. This was all done with great sensitivity and nuance in a way that inspired me to reconsider not only what I understood about the region, but what I considered myself to know about notions of authenticity, place, space, nation-states, and knowledge held as a foreigner. In short, this course was intellectually demanding because it did not provide clear answers. Clear answers in many instances would not have captured intricacies at play. Some students felt uncomfortable with these tactical semi-conclusions, but I found it personally groundbreaking. The course topic itself was extremely moving and was presented as a human issue. Tibetans were key in leading aspects of the program, sharing their experiences and grounding the texts in reality. Having the chance to work with Tibetans and Himalayn peoples in this capacity was a necessary component and was prioritized by the program. This is not an emotionally easy topic to tackle. The manner in which occupation and displacement were addressed did not overlook the intensity of the Tibetan situation, nor shy away from its controversial nature, while remaining sensitive to the people concerned. For me personally, the opportunity to conduct field research was invaluable. On one occasion, I conducted a week-long fieldwork in the Tsum Valley regarding local law. On another, I conducted a month-long independent study on Tibetan refugees in Nepal while in Kathmandu. Both of these experiences were completely life-altering. Through them, I found my calling as a researcher of issues surrounding migration and displacement. Having the freedom to be out in the community, connected with translators, talking directly with Tibetans and Himalayan peoples about their experiences and opinions regarding current politics, changed the course of my life. I cannot stress enough how powerful these experiences were. I have the program to thank for this because it prioritized fieldwork and supported my pursuit of specific interests. In conclusion, this program exceeded all expectations. It was a turning point in my life as a researcher. It inspired and supported my interests. It was challenging yet worked with me when I struggled. I would choose this program again and again.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- SIT Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples Program11/27/19
To this day I am still learning from the experience I had in 2013 with SIT Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples as it continues to shape my future. They threw us into the culture, taught us how to think critically and developed our skills of non-invasive
and collaborative research (also travelling to India and carrying out extended fieldwork in Bhutan). The individual Study Project (ISP) truly lets you flourish your interest, while the faculty does their very best to help you achieve maximal learning, while staying rooted. My current path and career are positively influenced by this program and its expert faculty. Furthermore, this program has it all: Adventures, deep cultural integration, mystery, unbelievable sightseeing and the development of you as a student. I recommend this program whole heartedly and am thankful to the entire program faculty. Hadi El Rabbat (Egypt) SIT Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples (Spring 2013)read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Gaining a new perspective on life in the foothills of the Himalayas11/25/19
The SIT Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples program is a unique program that offers a tremendous amount of opportunities for students with a variety of academic and personal interests. In addition to general coursework in Tibetan language, research methods
and ethics, and content seminars often in the form of lectures and discussions with local experts, the month-long independent study program was an incredible undergraduate research opportunity. Students on my program pursued such disparate interests as geo-tourism development, Tibetan Buddhist ritual, women's health, climate change, traditional handicrafts, creative writing, photography, local cuisine culture, refugee issues, education, and many more. This program truly is student-centered and allows for all participants to deeply pursue their own interests in a unique setting in the foothills of the Himalayas. Moreover, the excursions give students the opportunity to explore other Himalayan and Tibetan areas throughout Nepal, India, and Bhutan.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Freedom to explore your passions and challenge yourself in an incredible place!11/16/19
Speaking from experience, you don’t need a significant background in South Asian studies or philosophy to gain a lot from this program. Nepal is rich with cultural diversity and I was constantly in awe of its natural beauty. It has something for everyone,
and the staff is SUPER supportive and knowledgable. With the help of SIT staff, students were able to connect with locals, and I gained wonderful Nepali friends that made my time there even more special. Course instruction was really grounded in anthropology and gave me a much more informed framework for understanding cross-cultural interactions and international travel. The excursions that the program provides were a huge highlight because we got to travel to remote places and gained experience in anthropological methodology and interviewing skills. These helped prepare me for the independent study month, during which I designed my own project with the help of SIT staff; it gave me a fascinating opportunity to learn about my career interests in a particular Nepali setting. I gained so much knowledge, confidence, and cultural awareness, and I am constantly talking about my experience in job/internship interviews. This is an incredible program!!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- My most rewarding college experience. A must for culturally curious and adventurous peopel!11/08/19
I cannot even begin to explain the numerous ways in which this program changed my life… seriously I have a SIT Nepal story for practically every single occasion and find a way to bring up how much it changed my life frequently. If you want a dynamic
study abroad program that will set your life up in remarkable ways beyond what you even could expect, this is the program. I wanted to do a program very different than my peers all in London/ Australia, because that really SHOULD be the point of study abroad and wow did I get that. The program excursions change every semester so when you apply there is no real way of knowing what you will get up to that semester. We took two airplanes and a helicopter to the Tibetan border to most remote area in the country in the far west and then went on a 2 week walk/ trek where we stayed in villages in the middle of the Himalayas. How many study abroad programs do you know where you could potentially be on a helicopter?? It also means that unlike other programs where you follow a set tourist trail, you truly are going places in many cases for the first time. People are still excited to engage with you and learn with you. Additionally with the independent research project, I was incredibly daunted going into it, but it ended up being one of the most eye opening and rewarding things I’ve ever done. I never considered myself a “research” person, but it all changed with this. I gained so much self confidence in my ability to get to the bottom of stories and write about them. We all did! The staff is fantastic. The homesteads are fantastic. The SIT house is a little piece of heaven with a garden and fresh food every day. I have traveled a lot in my life but can hands down say this was my most memorable, unique experience ever. If you love adventure, the unknown, an incredibly unique cultural experience, and having experiences that no one else in the world really will get, this is the place. You are with an incredible cohort of kind, curious people that you can sit at cafes by Buddhist stupas talking about life while monks complete their kora beneath you. But again, this is a fully unique experience! It was nice to take a semester off of college shenanigans and engage in these meaningful relations instead. These people became my best friends. I have seen them in Bangkok, Chicago, New York, and am even doing a Fulbright back in Asia with one of the girls I met there. Also do not be daunted by the "trekking" element. It's not just for hard core hikers. I am certainly not one and I was completely fine!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Tibetan and Himalayan People10/31/19
The study abroad that I took part in during the spring semester of 2014 was the "SIT Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan People" program. The immersion into this program made it possible for me to explore the vitality of the cultural dimensions to the fullest.
Especially at the home stay, where we spoke with the host family in tibetan and nepali languages and did the daily chores together, it became a focal point of cultural exchange and learning for all. Moreover, we travelled to various key-locations to study the social, historical and cultural aspects, thereby gaining insight on both the methods and results of partaking in field research.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Just do it10/20/19
SIT Nepal changed my life. I met my best friend and fell in love with Nepal. I grew so much during my semester with SIT. I now work in Nepal, teaching English on a Fulbright grant. Nepal feels like home to me and I found this home because of SIT. I know
this is already so cliche and cheesy but seriously, this program wasn’t just a semester abroad; it changed the course of my life.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Unbelievably Memorable Study Abroad in Nepal10/15/19
The SIT Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples study abroad program was a remarkable highlight of my time in university. Through a refreshing taste of experiential learning, we engaged with communities across Nepal in productive, meaningful ways. Learning
in the field instead of the classroom inspired us all to be more invested in our work. The staff, who was caring and supportive to the utmost degree, has connections across the region and is willing to help all of their students with both the smallest and greatest of tasks. Their deep knowledge of the country (and neighboring countries) opens up a world of opportunity. Students with any possible interest, even the most esoteric, will find their place and thrive in this study abroad program.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend