The India Summer Program offers you the chance to explore the far reaches of northern India while investigating photography, culture, religion, and history.

It combines one week of volunteer service-learning and three weeks of amazing educational adventure travel, while supporting you to develop your photography skills under the tutelage of Kevin Connelly and Rebecca Gaal, published international photo journalists.

Settle into the foothills of the Himalayas in the town that is home to the Dalai Lama, teaching conversational English to Tibetan monks. Sit on the banks of the Ganges River and watch centuries old traditions in one of the oldest living cities in the world.

Explore thousand year-old temples and villages among the Himalayan mountain peaks. Gain skills with lessons in Buddhist meditation, Tibetan cooking, photography, yoga, hiking and history. Join us on a journey through India and a pivotal summer abroad.

With more than 1.2 billion people, India is a thriving force in Asia with its massive economy, strong democracy and rich religious background - being the birthplace of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. While most of India no longer abides by the caste system, 90% of all marriages are still arranged.

India boasts some of the most stunning architecture in the world including dozens of magnificent temples and palaces as well as the world famous Taj Mahal. Bollywood remains the leading film industry in the world in terms of films produced and tickets sold.

India’s landscape is just as diverse and colorful as its culture, with the Himalayan mountains scraping the blue skies in the north, the Khasi hills dominating the east, and the white sandy beaches and islands covering various areas of the south. The Ganges River, which flows 1,500 miles throughout the country, provides a lifeline for many Indians who live along its shores. India is truly a land of rich culture, history and geography.

This summer abroad program is suitable for high school graduates, gap year students, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. Optional transferable academic credit is available on this program.

This program can be combined with the Thailand Summer Program, for an incredible 2 month summer program experience in Asia.

  • Cultural exchange and service learning week supporting English-language classes for Tibetan monks
  • Photography assignments and critiques throughout the program
  • 3-day home-stay with a Ladakhi family
  • Camel riding through the Himalayan mountains
  • Yoga and meditation classes
  • Visiting Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile
  • Historical Varanasi and the Ganges River
  • Delhi’s colorful markets
  • Tibetan cooking course
  • Sunrise at the Taj Mahal
  • Informal lectures and discussions on history, culture, society and environment
  • Very personalized and supportive small group experience - maximum 14 students
  • Two experienced and inspiring Pacific Discovery Program Instructors supported by local guides
  • This program can be combined with the Thailand Summer Program, for an incredible 2 month summer program experience in Asia

Day 1-3. Delhi, India, Arrival and Orientation

On arrival in the expansive metropolis of New Delhi you’ll be met by your Pacific Discovery Program Instructors who will meet you at the airport and transfer with you to our group accommodation. After a comprehensive program orientation we’ll immerse ourselves in the kaleidoscope of new sensory stimulus.

While here we traverse the city visiting temples, markets and getting a real sense of all the contrasts Delhi offers, before boarding a night train to one of the oldest cities in the world.

Day 4-7. Varanasi

Departing Delhi we take a sleeper train to Varanasi. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient city was established approximately 5,000 years ago. Over the years the city has drawn some of the most diverse and interesting people in India.

We’ll visit the Ganges River to observe the ceremonies which take place upon the riverside, and visit the Boddhi tree where the Buddha gave his first sermon. While here we'll begin working on photo assignments ranging from street photography to portraiture.

Day 8-15. McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala

Based from our picturesque guesthouse in McLeod Ganj, we fill these days with purposeful activities. Each morning we’ll be working with Tibetan monks helping them with their conversational English skills. In the afternoons we take yoga and meditation classes, hear real-life stories of exile and hope from Tibetan refugees, whip up a feast during a Tibetan cooking class, and delve further into our photography. At the end of the week we return to Delhi, and prepare to embark on our next expedition.

Day 16-26. Ladahk

We fly from Delhi to the city of Leh at an elevation of 12,500 feet. Leh sits in a dry, rocky valley which overlooks the snow covered peaks of the Himalayas in every direction. We’ll make Leh our base as we explore the surrounding region. We’ll visit Hemis monastery which sits tucked deep into a mountain and is one of the oldest monasteries in the history of Buddhism (2,400 years old). For three days we’ll stay with a Ladahki family in a small village where we’ll learn about traditional cooking, work on photo assignments, and drink yak butter tea. We’ll finish up our time in Ladahk by driving through one of the highest motorable passes in the world (18,500 feet) to ride camels through the desert, and meet more amazing people.

Day 27-28. Agra and The Taj Mahal

We fly from Leh back to Delhi and transfer to vans for our short journey to Agra, where we’ll settle into our welcoming guesthouse for a good night’s rest. Wake early for our much anticipated visit to watch the sunrise across the Taj Mahal. The morning is the best time to visit the Taj as there are very few visitors and fantastic lighting. When satisfied with our image capturing we’ll head back to Delhi for our final days in India.

Day 28-30. Delhi Photography Exhibition

Photography is all about making connections with people and sharing the world with others. That’s what we intend to do with our final days in India. We’ll go through our photos and decide which images we want to share with our audience at our Pacific Discovery Photo Exhibition. We have a gallery picked out where we’ll display our images in a real photographic exhibition for all to see and enjoy.

On our final day we sadly farewell our group mates and this wonderful country. We depart Delhi for home having had an unforgettable month in ‘Incredible India.’

Note: Each week there will be some designated free time in a town or city so that you can catch up on email and laundry, rest, and explore independently with others in the group.

For full program details, please request the information booklet

Special Focus: Photography

Kevin Connelly – international travel photographer and instructor
Photography provides us with a means to tell stories, document history, and show the beauty and wonder of the world we live in.  But most importantly, it can help us to communicate with the people of the world, to cross language, culture and social borders that might otherwise be impenetrable.

Throughout the program we’ll be discussing photography techniques, working on assignments, participating in critiques, and learning how capturing images can bring us closer to people.  Rather than having classroom lectures, we’ll be out in the streets, mountains and homes of the people of India learning about their culture and doing our best to understand their lifestyles.  Our trip will conclude with an exhibition of our best photos in downtown Delhi at an art gallery where we can share our imagery, and discuss how the images affected us and have made our time in India so meaningful.

Suitability

Open to high school graduates, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. This program is suitable for anyone of average fitness with an enthusiasm for photography, humanitarian work, new experiences and different cultures. It is an excellent option for students and graduates wanting to be exposed to and immersed in a culture different to their own. You don’t need to have had previous experience with international travel or any of the activities offered.

The program is a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.

Accommodation

Our accommodation will vary from simple guesthouses with shared facilities, to modern hotels with private bathrooms. Laundry, telephone and email facilities will be available most days except while staying remotely. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.

Meals

Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. Food is a highlight when travelling in India and throughout there will be the opportunity to eat authentic Indian or Western style food. 85% of meals are included in the program cost. The remaining few meals are not included to allow a choice of when, where and what we eat. For the meals not included, you will have the option of dining out, or self-catering with others in the group. We recommend you budget the sum of $10 per day for snacks, drinks, and meals not included in the program cost ($300 for the program).

Program Tuition Includes

All in-country transport including three flights within India; All accommodation; Most meals; All activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary; One week service-learning volunteer project; Informal lectures from resident experts on photography, culture, history, and development; Experienced Pacific Discovery Program Instructors and local guides; Online image library for your program.

The Pacific Discovery The India Summer Program offers you the chance to explore the far reaches of Northern India while investigating photography, culture, religion, and history.

India Summer Program map

Duration 30 days
Program Tuition $5,950 USD Estimated Flight Cost $1,600 USD $200 discount
for applications before April 1st

Availability Closed
Group Size 14 Students & 2 Instructors Ages 18 - 24 ideal
Optional College Credit Yes Start/Finish New Delhi, India
(we assist with flight arrangements)