On a CCS Gap Year in Dharamsala, India, you'll live out an amazing adventure in one of the world’s most awe-inspiring, historically significant settings. Perched among the clouds on the Himalayan mountainside, the rural locale of Dharamsala has a moving and mysterious quality. “Dharamsala” loosely translates to “spiritual dwelling,” a resting house for pilgrims. The area is home to a vibrant Indian community and several thousand Tibetan refugees—including His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Home to the Dalai Lama, a vibrant Indian community, and several thousand Tibetan refugees, the misty highlands of Dharamsala are a stark contrast to the buzzing cities found elsewhere in India. Dharamsala's mountainside perch among the clouds gives this rural locale a moving and mysterial quality.
On your gap year in Dharamsala with CCS, you will find two very distinct neighborhoods: Lower Dharamsala and Upper Dharamsala. As the seat of the Tibetan government in exile and the Tibetan community, Upper Dharamsala enjoys more access to resources and services than Lower Dharamsala. This is in part due to the community’s connection to international aid. In Lower Dharamsala, you’ll find an Indian community that gets little to no attention from international aid organizations, and because of this, lacks some of the most basic social services.
On your CCS gap year in Dharamsala, your volunteer work will focus on the lower section, alongside organizations whose efforts support children’s education and women’s rights.
Read more about the India volunteer experience on our blog.
Once enrolled, you will have the chance to select the volunteer opportunity that's most interesting to you. Volunteers will always receive their first preference. The only exception to this will be when there are national or school holidays, or there are exceptional circumstances.
CCS volunteers in Dharamsala greatly contribute to improving the quality of education that every child deserves. Women, mostly single mothers, need to work to support their family, and thus rely on community support to help with their children. Community groups and childcare centers are present to provide these essential services, but are grossly under resourced and understaffed even in formal school settings. CCS volunteers assist teachers, conduct early education programming, teach English language skills, and provide children with one-on-one attention.
Access to high quality health care in rural areas is severely limited. Through outreach, education, and care, you will provide much-needed support to vulnerable children and adults in low-income communities. In addition, CCS leads multiple public health projects in India including vision screening for children, oral health campaigns, and the promotion of hygiene in schools.