Alumni of both the high school and gap programs say that a major highlight of their semesters was the opportunity to do an individualized internship in their chosen area. Long-established FAR connections with people and organizations around Ladakh support internships that allow students to delve deeper into local communities, and contribute to the work of organizations and local society. Research is often undertaken jointly with SECMOL students. Final projects are presented to students, teachers and mentors on a special evening at SECMOL. Our students present their research findings, accompanied by a visual (powerpoint, photos, maps, paintings, etc), audio (radio pieces) or performance (dance, playing an instrument learned, etc). Students in the high school program also write a paper for this capstone “Exhibition” class, and a copy of each presentation remains at the school for the benefit of the SECMOL community, as well as for future students who may want to expand on the research. Students have also published these documents in newspapers or magazines back home.
- Cooking with Ladakhis, and then writing a creative account of experiences in food preparation and consumption as well as the historical and cultural context of several dishes, and creating a book of recipes; preparing a meal for all of SECMOL, following an internship in a Tibetan restaurant and a homestay with a local family.
- Working with Amchis (practitioners of Tibetan herbal medicine), and the Ladakh Society for Traditional Medicine, to learn about traditional healing techniques and plants.
- Working with women from all over the region at the Women’s Alliance of Ladakh, helping out with essential day-to-day tasks at this organization that has had major successes in countering negative development trends
- Shadowing members of adventure travel companies to research trekking and Western exploration in order to produce a moving account of an evolving relationship with mountains, and the landscape of Ladakh.
- Working with farmers to investigate various agricultural topics: comparing farming technologies, and sustainable agriculture techniques, in Ladakh and Vermont; helping build canals for the intricate irrigation system households create for their farms from mountain streams while staying with a family in an ancient village; interviewing villagers and young people in the town of Leh about youth perspectives of farming.
- Working with local NGOs devoted to sustainable energy to learn about applications of various technologies at use in Ladakh: micro-hydro; methane biogas production; solar power uses; and the traditional employment of appropriate technologies in Ladakh.
- Studying with master musicians and teachers to: learn to play the damyan, an ancient Tibetan string instrument from a Tibetan master; writing a paper on the political context of Tibetan music; learning to play drums from a traditional drummer of the lower caste that is the only caste permitted to play this instrument, and living with his family.
- Working in different schools to research educational issues: comparing educational methods of SECMOL and Ladakhi Public Schools, and the effect they have on cultural preservation and pride; and comparing educational differences in discipline, curriculum models and daily activities.
- Working with a tailor to learn about traditional clothing, and the role of traditional spinning and weaving in Ladakhi culture.
- Living in a Monastery to study various aspects of Buddhism: following monks in their everyday lives and rituals to discover their perspectives on change due to modernization; assisting with conservation of 800 year-old murals; studying the Buddhist Wheel of Life, and creating a painting of modern American society based on the Wheel.
- Studying with a famous Ladakhi folktale orator, and living with his family, to explore the effects of oral tradition on Ladakhi culture as seen through folktales.
- Living in a flood relief camp with a family, and with children there, using art as a way to understand their coping methods.
- Living in the Tibetan community to research a variety of topics based on interviews with homestay families and community members: the status of the Tibetan refugees, and prospects for an independent Tibet; stories of journeys out of Tibet from older residents and second-hand stories from their children; perspectives on cultural identity from second and third generation refugees.
- Creating original designs for a Ski School in Zanskar, Ladakh, and for a family house in Vermont, using principles of passive solar architecture found at SECMOL; researching traditional building techniques used in Ladakh as compared with modern practices to create a model of such buildings and the processes they require.
- Researching the influences of modern dance on traditional forms, and performing a Bollywood-style dance performance.
- Directing and producing documentary films on a variety of topics: tales of escape and exile from interviews with Tibetans; an internship with a large animal veterinarian; daily life for young monks following a two-week stay at a Monastery; group dynamics and individual personalities of a VIS/SECMOL semester group.
- Conducting in-depth interviews with the Directors of a Meditation Center in Leh (the capitol of Ladakh) about the history and practices of meditation, including physiological and psychological affects, and leading the VIS/SECMOL group in guided meditation.
- Researching the various linguistic forms of the Ladakhi language, and methods of learning a new language; designing a course outline with lesson plans for potential visitors to Ladakh who wish to learn the basics of the language.
- Writing and illustrating books, including: The Ten Days of Losar (Tibetan New Year), written in Ladakhi and English and illustrated; “Seven Days in the Brogpa Zone,”a book of photos and text based on a weeklong stay in a remote mountain village with the Brogpa, descended from Alexander the Great; a piece of historical fiction about Ladakh.
- Visiting nomadic communities to research various topics: the ways the pashmina wool trade are woven into the history, economics, and politics of Ladakh; changing lifestyles of the nomadic groups in Ladakh, covering ideas such as nomadic settlements, schooling of children, and family traditions.
- Producing a radio piece of stories from Gesar of Ling, the Tibetan Epic.
- Researching cultural topics such as: the introduction of Western toys to Ladakh, and their effect on childhood development, via interviews with youth and business owners to understand changing perspectives in children related to toys and play; issues of changing family structures caused by modernization and the demand for higher education and jobs.
- Researching climate change: living with a family in the Solar Housing Colony affected by the floods to stud the ineffectiveness of pre-fabricated housing models given to displaced families; interviewing local NGOs and Ladakhis about the causes and effects of climate change in Ladakh, with a specific focus on pollution and CO2 emissions; collecting villagers thoughts on the effects of global warming on village life, specifically water supply.
- Visiting oracles to research local beliefs about paranormal activity, and views about spirits, ghosts, and superstitions.
- Mapping the geology and topology, and building a scale model, of the mountain next to SECMOL school and surrounding areas, and investigating how the natural landscape can be a source of inspiration for art and poetry; leading a hike to teach SECMOL and VIS students about the mountain’s flora and fauna, and their medicinal or culinary uses.
- Living in Leh’s major Housing Colony to research the effects of urbanization on Ladakh, including interviewing individuals and organizations such as the Tibet Heritage Fund, to understand of why people choose to leave their villages and move to the city.