Gap Year in India

Travel, adventure and explore indigenous Indian culture

Spend your gap year learning about yourself in the context of a thousand year old Bengali community.

Experience new cultures. Travel to remote India. Dive into yourself.
A rice paddy filled with water and mountains and mist in the background


We will be joining with dear old Lepcha friends in the high Himalaya. Nestled serenely between Darjeeling and the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Sikkim, we will be stepping away from business as usual, challenging modernity's curious narratives and doing our best to explore and revive deliberately silenced pathways of education, ones that center us not in the individual, nor even in the world of humans but instead within a multisensory world of interconnected togetherness that embraces here and now simultaneously with both times long
ago and times yet to come.

Far from modernity's incessant drive to produce and consume without a deep knowledge of the origins of "things", we invite you to join us in a place where what matters most is not the accumulation of money and fame but the ability to form, maintain and nurture good relations. We will explore what relationships ultimately are and can be, in myriad ways. Relationship with self, with the so-called "other", with the greater than human world, with the spiritual plane and beyond.

Through natural building, organic farming, cooking, singing, instrument making, metalsmithing, wool spinning, etc. we will activate our relationship with our hands and in so doing consider how modernity's effort to make things more easy may have instead made things far more difficult.

Through aimless walks through the largest mountains on Earth, a meditation retreat in the tradition of Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism), and daily group check-ins with each other we will attempt to strengthen our relationship with the Natural world as well as with our spiritual bodies and minds.

Such experiences lead to connecting with each other as we try to make sense of it all and create our place in it. We will cry, dance, and fall in love with a way of living that embraces the beauty, complexity and pain of the real world. You won't ever forget it.

Some potential activities and destinations:

  • See the rich, ancient, bustling city of Kolkata.
  • A Jeep ride to Kalimpong
  • Hear from the Tibetan diasporic community and their
  • A ceremony at the confluence of the river Teesta and Rangeet, important rivers of the Eastern Himalayas and a place of spiritual prominence for the Lepchas.
  • visit to Gandhi Ashram - a school that has been trying to provide an alternative model of education to the village kids in Kalimpong, with the focus being music.
  • Week long homestays in each of Kalimpong, Sittong and Gitdabling.
  • Travel day to Gangtok the capital of Sikkim
  • follow the rivers trail uphill to Dzongu its source,
    where the mountains safeguard the birthplace of the river.
  • Stay in Dzongu, which lies in the Kanchendzonga biosphere reserve, one of the few biodiversity hotspots left in the world. We will stay at Tenzing Gyatso
    Lepcha’s home.  He is an environmental activist who went on a hunger strike for 156days at the age of 25 to stop the construction of a 520 MW dam on the Rongyoung chu.
  • Conversations with inspiring folks from diverse cultures about what it means to be alive and part of a human and natural community.
A view of Sikkimese fort from above in northern India
a group of young people stretch out and holding hands in a cloud


Oscar Wolfenstein


Portland, OR

At the High Desert Center, I felt for the first time in my life that I had a place and a purpose entirely to myself. The environment provides hands-on education in sustainable living and community building, and the staff engages each participant earnestly, asking participants to discover what we truly care about and to explore the numerous options presented by our ambitions. Each day feels like an experience and adventure to itself, and also preparation for the great adventure of life.

Male staff member


Belfast, ME

Let me tell you about the mountains that we wake up to every morning, surrounded by sun-kissed peaks that offered weeks of back country exploration. Let me tell you about the delicious smell of bacon calling me from my bed just before the breakfast bell rings, bacon from a small organic farm down the road where we visited and worked with our hands in the dirt. This gap year changed my life. If it calls to you, I encourage you to take the leap.


Today! We are currently accepting applications.