Can a mountain teach you more than a university?

Can a mountain teach you more than a university?

Our 2nd ever GAP Semester graduated last week. Many of you know that this is a 90-day semester that takes place entirely in the Himalaya. The programme spans across Garhwal, Kumaon and the Lahul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.

If I have ever doubted myself on the value of the program or get stressed with anxiety when our students are travelling and living in really remote areas, the graduation talk by the students made it all worth it. Each of them said that they were touched by the friendliness and generosity of Indians, and especially the families that they lived with in Spiti at 14,000 ft.

William Hoaglin said, “Over the past three months, I have learnt more than any University could teach me. This semester has shown me a world that I could only read about back home. My experiences have been engraved in my memory and will stay there for a long time.”

This is classic experiential education. You are outside your comfort zone in every which way, and you learn to deal with what gets thrown at you. Add the fact you did not know your course-mates ever, and have to deal with each person’s idiosyncrasies as well. Unlike home or college, you can’t close the door at the end of the day. You just have to learn to deal with the situation or the person. There is no running away.

Holden Keating had the following to say. “This gap semester redefined the way I look upon the world. After seeing such modest living styles in the frozen desert of Spiti, I have been inspired to live less of a consumer lifestyle and appreciate the luxuries that I once took for granted. I have fallen in love with India, and its chaos and natural beauty will always occupy a place in my heart.”

I am back in my office this morning after seeing off the semester students in New Delhi. And I am already modifying next year’s semester schedule to reflect some of the feedback this year. Come on, you people out there.

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