Independent Study Projects
The purpose of Global LAB's Independent Study Projects (ISPs) is to enable students to identify areas of interest and to provide opportunities to pursue these interests in a non-formal environment. These projects are facilitated through one-on-one classes with experts in the field, apprenticeships, service-learning, internships, and individual research. Global LAB's Program Leaders and Local Coordinators work with each student individually to assist them in identifying interests and creating the best ISP experience possible. At the conclusion of an ISP, students present what they have learned to the group, so that we may all share in the knowledge.
Below are some examples of ISP options. This list is not exhaustive so if students have other ideas and/or interests that are not mentioned below, they should talk with their Program Leader who will work to arrange a suitable ISP. It is important that students give some thought to their ISPs prior to coming to Pre-Travel Orientation as it takes some time to arrange the ISPs in India. And be sure to check out some photos from past ISPs.
• Sitar: The stringed Indian "guitar" made popular in the West largely through the work of Pandit Ravi Shankar and frequently used in classical Hindustani music. Learn sitar alongside a Jaipur-based renowned vocalist who has toured through much of Europe.
• Jewelry Making: Jaipur is a hub of Jewelers, jewelry design and working with semiprecious stones. This ISP is usually with Sujata Bhandari, a dynamic and demanding teacher. There may also be some field trips to the gem and metal markets.
• Handmade Paper Making: Environment friendly projects for those interested in paper making products.
• Block Printing: The beautiful art of block printing employs wooden or metal blocks to print designs and patterns on fabric, by hand. What makes Block Printing unique is that the design has to be created by the artist before the printing begins. It is carved onto the block by hand. The colors used are normally vegetable dyes.
• Ayurveda: This is a system of traditional medicine native to India and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine. You will study alongside a professional ayurvedic doctor.
• Bollywood Dancing: Learn to dance like the stars! This ISP focuses on one or more of the following different types of dance: classical (very technical, with precise steps and movements--usually incorporated with a story), folk-based (less technical with freer movements than classical) and Bhangra (a mix between Indian and Western influences)
• Yoga: Outside India, the term yoga is typically associated with only two of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga - Asana (posture) and Pranayama (breathing). In Jaipur, yoga is taken with Shivani Ji, Global LAB's very own Local Coordinator, and will focus on all eight limbs of practice. If you are interested in both the activity and philosophy behind yoga, this is an excellent ISP to take.
• Advanced Hindi: Learn additional grammar, vocabulary and Devanagari script! All the better for bargaining for bangles in the market and communicating with homestay families.
• Lac Jewelry Making: Making jewelry from lac (a natural by-product from trees) is a 5000-year-old tradition that is still being practices today. Work alongside a famous Indian manufacturer and supplier of handcrafted and customize lac jewelry to learn how to make necklaces, earrings, bangles, bracelets etc.
• Tie and Dye: Otherwise known as bandhani, Tie and Die is a very popular and famous craft of Rajasthan. It is the ancient Indian printing method that is practiced widely in western parts of India. Learn how to use a thin thread to make beautiful patterns on fabric.
• Other Options: Independent research projects; Photography projects; Work alongside a furniture designer; Learn graphic design; Volunteer at local hospitals (adequate training required)
DHARAMSALA ISP OPTIONS
In Dharamsala students choose two or three ISPs that last for one to three hours per day depending on the project.
• English Tutoring: There are a variety of options for teaching English in Dharamsala - from teaching classes of up to 15 students, to one on one lessons to group conversational tutoring. This is one of the best ways to have in depth conversations with a new Tibetan friend while giving back to the community at the same time!
• Yoga: Yoga in Dharamsala consists mostly of Asana and Pranayama practice, with little philosophy introduced.
• Jewelry Making: A much more hands on approach than the ISP in Jaipur. Students should be able to make several pieces and to purchase those pieces they want to take home.
• Computer/Web Design Tutoring: Skill training is an essential commodity for the Tibetan refugees in McLeod Ganj. If any students have experience in web design, LHA on Temple Road would love to have classes taught in this subject. If you have additional computer experience, it is worth talking to them to see if you might be able to offer a class in your area of expertise (Excel, Project Management, Pagemaker, etc).
• Tabla: Learn tabla from a well-known Dharamsala guru. Tabla consists of two hand drums and a large variety of percussion techniques, and is very common in North Indian classical music.
• Daycare Volunteer - Rogpa Crèche: A big commitment with a big payoff! Rogpa Crèche is a free daycare center, accepting children under the age of three whose parents need to work and cannot otherwise afford childcare. Run by a small, dedicated staff with a well-run volunteer program. Volunteers work with children, feed them, change diapers, help clean the bathroom and potties, etc. A rewarding ISP if you enjoy working with children.
• Thangka Painting: Students learn the traditional methods of Thangka painting, starting with graphing, proportion and line drawing. Most students will spend their time drawing and sketching. Depending on the commitment and ability of the student and also the number of ISP days, some may even begin the painting process. Great for artistic students, and those interested in Tibetan iconography.
• Woodcarving: Woodcarving is an age-old tradition in Tibet, which has been brought with the Tibetan community into India. Learn woodcarving from the same carvers that make pieces for the Tibetan Government in Exile.
• Tailoring: Learn how to make a Tibetan Chuba (traditional clothing) and other pieces from one of our homestay mothers.
• Buddhist Philosophy: Learn more about Buddhist Philosophy in either a class-based or one on one format.
• Indian/Tibetan Cooking: Love momos? Can't get enough makhani? Take some cooking classes and learn how to make your favorite North Indian, South Indian, or Tibetan meals!
• Advanced Hindi: Learn additional grammar, vocabulary and Devanagari script! All the better for bargaining in the market and communicating with locals.
• Tibetan Massage: This unique form of physical therapy has been handed down from grandfather to grandson, generation to generation, for hundreds of years. Learn techniques to alleviate muscle soreness and treat chronic conditions. Tibetan massage works on the wind channels of the body, unlike acupressure or the Chinese style of massage.
Below is a list of non-profit organization in Dharamsala. In the past we have had students intern and/or do service-learning projects with them. This ISP is for the really motivated, self-sufficient, reliable student as it is a big commitment to be of service to someone else. If a student is interested in pursuing an ISP with one of these organizations, Global LAB will do its best to arrange it. Since the program is only in Dharamsala for two to three weeks, Global LAB cannot guarantee that the interested student's skills or schedule will coordinate with the organizations needs.
• Volunteer Tibet Office: This office places foreigners with different volunteer organizations, and is a great place to start getting ideas for volunteering ISPs. Check out their website to see what is currently available: www.volunteertibet.org.in,
• Tibetan Women's Association: An international NGO that works towards raising global awareness of the situation inside Tibet and seeks the social, political, and economic empowerment of Tibetan women in exile.
• Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA): Runs excellent programs on Buddhist philosophy - beginner through advanced - throughout the year. Check their website for current course info. www.tibetanlibrary.org
• Learning and Ideas for Tibet: A non-profit organization run by volunteers from Gu-Chu-Sum that offers a variety of classes to the refugee community. Drop in English conversation classes are a great way to get to know members of the local community and to learn about their personal stories. www.learningandideasfortibet.org
• Gu-Chu-Sum: An organization that provides housing and training for recently arrived Tibetan ex-political prisoners. Gu-Chu-Sum seeks volunteers to meet with their clients to practice and learn English. www.guchusum.org
• Louisiana Himalayan Association (LHA): An organization that provides a variety of services in Dharamsala to both the Tibetan and Indian population. LHA seeks English conversation partners for "new arrivals" as well as a variety of other tasks such as computer tutoring/teaching, sign painting (maybe). Check LHA's website for more details and also stop by their office for current volunteering opportunities and their needs. http://www.lhasocialwork.org/
• Yong Ling Creche and Kindergarten: This school serves Tibetan students from eighteen months to seven years old. Volunteer opportunities could include assisting with classroom teaching or repainting murals on the playground.
• Tibetan Centre for Conflict Resolution: This organization does peace-building work within the Tibetan community. They have programs which help new Tibetan arrivals adapt to Indian culture, and to adapt and work collaboratively with the existing Tibetan exile community. There may be teaching/workshop opportunities with this organization for those who have an interest in Conflict Resolution work, but more likely we can arrange for a visit to meet with one of the program's leaders to learn more about their various projects.
• Friends of Tibet: This organization does activism work related to Tibetan rights. They sponsor films about political prisoners, arrange writing campaigns on behalf of various issues, and do other activities to raise awareness about the situation in Tibet. Volunteers could run booths for a postcard campaign, design posters to promote film showings, or help plan other programs or projects in Dharamsala.
• Tibetan Children's Village: This organization began 40 years ago as a nursery for Tibetan refugee orphans and has expanded into a small village that strives to provide the best of modern and traditional Tibetan education. TCV welcomes Global LAB students to come learn about its programs and help out in a variety of ways.
Please click here to download a copy of the ISP Options