• India
4 - 12 weeks
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, 529 Plan eligibility, BIPOC funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Host Family
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
The land cost for North India: Identity in Exile is $8,320 for 6 weeks. Flight costs are estimated at $2,070. Need-based scholarships are available.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Jan 03, 2020
Feb 28, 2018
3 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Explore mountain cultures and mountain landscapes on the roof of the world. Stretching more than 1500 miles from Pakistan to China, the Himalayan Range boasts half the world’s highest peaks and is home to diverse mountain peoples. Examine the roots of Tibetan identity, join refugee communities for a learning service project, discuss climate change in the Himalayas, and trek into Ladakh’s sacred high peaks. Ladakh is a particularly unique region in this mountain expanse. Clinging to the far western flank of the Tibetan plateau, jagged peaks and windswept valleys have largely preserved local cultures, but the region is particularly susceptible to a warming climate and hasn’t experienced a similar economic and development boom as the Indian plains. This course is a window into diverse Himalayan cultures and landscapes, as the region adapts to both challenging environmental and political climates.

This program is currently not being promoted on Go Overseas by its provider. Check with Where There Be Dragons for the most up-to-date information regarding the status of this program.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

Unfortunately, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and skin tone exists in different forms all over the world. In some destinations, especially rural or ethnically homogenous areas, people may not have had much exposure to racial diversity. As such, people with certain physical characteristics may experience unwanted attention. Most commonly, this might include staring, insensitive comments, people taking your photo (with or without asking), or attempts to touch your skin or hair. Black students traveling in parts of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa have often reported higher levels of unwanted attention than their peers. White students traveling in parts of Asia and Africa have also reported receiving unwanted attention. Students are encouraged to communicate with staff if they feel their personal boundaries are being violated or if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in any situation. We encourage you to believe your peers if/when they share experiences like this with you.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Social, cultural, religious, political, and legal attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community vary around the world. According to the Global Acceptance Index, average levels of acceptance for LGBTQ+ people around the world have been increasing since 1981. However, many countries where Dragons operates programs may have social discrimination or even laws against being LGBTQ+. We have safely supported LGBTQ+ students in all of our program areas, and provide specific cultural and geographic advice to help students stay safe on course.

In some cases, students may be advised not to speak about their sexual orientations and/or gender identities with local contacts (such as homestay families, ISP mentors, language teachers, and guest speakers) due to safety concerns. Likewise, transgender and non-binary students may have to choose to present outwardly as male or female in certain contexts during the program. In other cases, “coming out” to some or all host community members may be a safe choice.

Neurodivergent Support

For students with neuro-differences (such as dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, TS, and dyspraxia), it is important to be aware that neurodiversity is likely viewed differently abroad than at home. People might not be familiar with labels or terms that are very common where you come from. If you struggle with lots of external stimuli, you should be prepared that you will be in some environments that are louder and busier than what you are used to.

Accessibility Support

If you are a student with a physical disability, you might encounter challenges around accessibility than you have at home. Many of the places we travel at Dragons don’t have building codes or other regulations in place to support people with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments. You may need accommodations or support that you don’t usually require in your life at home.



Dragons defines responsible travel as travel that is culturally conscious, environmentally responsible, and focused on developing meaningful connections and mutual respect in the communities to which we travel. Over the course of Dragons 25+ year history, we have cultivated long-standing relationships with respected community leaders, academics, social entrepreneurs and professionals involved in environmental and cultural preservation. In the more than 20 countries in which Dragons has operated, we have steadfastly adhered to minimum impact travel, an accurate and informed understanding of place, and the realization of maximum benefit for the communities we visit.

Ethical Impact

Dragons believes that we need to shift the way we think of volunteer travel. Instead of focusing on “service work”—on the idea that short-term volunteers can contribute to communities abroad—we advocate a paradigm shift: we choose, instead, to focus on “learning service.”

Learning Service is a holistic experience that combines an intimate and authentic engagement with the local community, the study of effective development, and the contribution to an established community-driven project. It is the process of living, working alongside, and humbly absorbing the culture of those being served while coordinating closely with project managers to understand the trajectory of the project, from inception to completion and beyond. It is an acknowledgment that often it is the volunteer who stands to gain as much or more from the work. And it is a commitment to making contributions that create positive impacts in the communities coupled with the humility to always listen and learn first.

Program Highlights

  • Extensive discourse on both Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism and the role that religion plays in Indian culture, frequent meditation and yoga practice. Broad introduction in Sikhism and Islam.
  • Look at resource management, creative responses to climate change, human rights, political economics, cultural preservation, democracy and communal conflict in India.
  • A 6-8 day high-altitude village trek in the awe-inspiring Ladakhi Trans-Himalaya.
  • A 6 day homestay with Tibetan refugee families in Dharamsala, a 5 day homestay in a remote Ladakhi village. Introduction to Hindi and Ladakhi languages and learn a few Tibetan phrases.
  • Help Buddhist monks and nuns in Dharamsala practice their English conversations skills at LHA, a Tibetan right organization. Work with environmental educators in Ladakh with the option to visit local schools.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 5 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Growth 5
  • Support 5
  • Fun 4.8
  • Housing 5
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The Eternal Course

Once I returned home, the following six months were full of questions along the lines of “How was your trip?” Throughout much trial and error, I can now keep my answer under 2 minutes. But through this process, I’ve learned that I haven’t quite grasped a full understanding of what exactly my experience was, as I found it harder to explain my transformation than I thought it would be. My Dragons journey is with me everyday, and everyday I come closer to comprehending my knowledge that I gained on course. Having those meaningful conversations with NGO leaders, nurses, poets, religious officials, locals, homestay families, and instructors were so impactful. The knowledge that I walked away with was not directly taught to me, it was gained through experiential learning, which fostered personal growth and a stronger sense of self. Dragons demonstrated that in order to effectively interact with a community, I need to be able to listen first. I used to, and still struggle with, letting my preconceived notions dictate what a community needs. But I learned the concept of solidarity. And through transference (the last stage on all Dragons courses), I was taught how to bring these complicated, beautiful, intricate, exciting conversations and experiences back home with me. And through this I have found that we, westerners, are so unaware of the unknown. The unknown showed me that I’m far happier without a phone and that I don’t mind not showering for a week. That’s why I urge you to push your limits and jump into the chaos of another country and take the opportunity to view the world from a different lense. Dragons will venture into the unexplored. Will you?

68 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience

Participating in a Dragons course was the most incredible experience of my life and the best decision I ever made. The opportunities I had were ones that I would never have elsewhere, such as staying with a family in rural villages high in the Indian Himalayas, studying buddhist philosophy with a nun, and creating my own Independent Study Project to dive deeper into my personal interests. I learned more this summer than I have in my whole life, and I am forever grateful to everyone at Dragons for making it possible.

75 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

North India: Identity in Exile

In 6 weeks, Dragons opened my eyes to the world and its opportunities; to the infinite amount of things to see and do and learn that exist. I learned invaluable lessons that I cannot explain on paper, from about my innermost self to the history and plight of Tibetan refugees. The depth of my experience, the people I met, the places I saw, and the things I learned both solidified and changed me as a person. The program components include home stays, trekking, rugged travel, language study, learning service, focus of inquiry on comparative religion, development studies, and independent study projects. Each of the program components are integral parts of the experience. My personal favorite were the home stays, because I was able to connect with people that I would never have been able to form relationships with, and the relationships I was able to form with my families were unbelievable to me. The academic focus on minority issues in Ladakh added another layer to exploring the region, as we understood and knew much about the region that many Western travelers do not. Overall, it was an incredible experience that I am very blessed to be able to have had.

68 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Immersive, Educational, Transformative

Where There be Dragons is truly an incredible organization and I had such a positive experience on the Identity in Exile course. My instructor team was absolutely amazing and their combined wisdom and experience in country allowed my group to learn so much, explore remote locations and have the opportunity to meet with inspiring individuals throughout our travels. My two favorite aspects of the trip were our homestays and the Independent Study Project. Being able to live with 2 different families in both and urban and a rural homestay was one of the most valuable opportunities that Dragons has given me and I fostered such profound connections with the families I was fortunate enough to become a part of. I also really enjoyed our Independent Study Project. I chose to study Hindi and I had 2:1 lessons over the course of 6 weeks with my instructor, a native speaker. My group-mates explored a variety of topics ranging from Buddhism, Social Justice to meditation and it was so awesome being able to explore an area of interest and later share that with the rest of my group. I loved every second of this course and I would recommend it to the open minded, curious and adventurous traveler in a heart beat.

78 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Leap of Faith

Where There Be Dragons really and truly changed my life. I gained a sense of independence, a strength of character, and a feeling that I could conquer any obstacles that came in my way. I met a truly exceptional group of people, people who I was able to get to know in such a deep and personal way due to our shared experiences. Going to India was by far the most interesting, scary, and amazing experience, and without this program, I would never have been able to expereince it the way that I did. Our instructors definitely did an amazing job, for they not only provided help when we needed it, but also allowed us to truly grow in this strange environment. The times I remember most are the times when I or other members in the group had to step up, assume responsibility, and lead the group on. This program is not for those who are not willing to open their hearts and their eyes, and to this day I think of this trip as one of the more difficult things I have ever done. However, it was by far the most amazing thing. I learned to open my eyes in a way I did not dream was possible, I learned to accept things about myself that I could barely acknowledge, and, above all else, I came back a better person, a better citizen of this world. I cannot do Dragons justice just with these 5 stars and this jumbled review, but to anyone reading this, I beg of you, take a leap of faith, just as I did. You will be changed forever.

67 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Interesting question! We couldn't find the answer, but definitely suggest reaching out directly to the program provider: https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/contact-us/