India: Community Development and Public Health

Examine public health priorities and community development in urban and rural areas of northern India during a summer abroad.

An Experiment Leadership Institute Program

This highly competitive Experiment in International Living summer abroad program for high school students is specifically focused on leadership development. Participation for accepted students is fully funded.

Students receive intensive leadership training in Washington, DC, followed by a four-week experience focused on public health and community development in India. Finally, students return to the US for debriefings, project planning sessions, and reentry workshops on the School for International Training campus in southern Vermont.

Program Key Features:

  • Intensive leadership and activism training in Washington, DC
  • Onsite meetings with experts and advocates at primary health centers, youth organizations, and NGO headquarters
  • Workshop with an organization working for community development, public health, and positive change in India
  • Rural visit to a tribal village and meeting with youth parliament members
  • Excursion to Jaipur to meet with NGOs like Barefoot College, a rural development organization, and Jaipur Foot Factory, the world’s largest producer of prosthetic below-the-waist limbs
  • Engagement with Indian peer groups at Global School of Learning in Bahraich District
  • Visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra
  • Two-week homestay with an Indian family
  • Project planning sessions in Vermont
  • Action-oriented project to be implemented after the program’s conclusion

Similar programs
Learn more about the Experiment Leadership Institute program in South Africa

Washington, DCThe Experiment Leadership Institute program begins with an intensive, four-day leadership seminar in Washington, DC. This portion of the program includes trainings, workshops, field trips, group exercises, and discussions with political and NGO leaders and is based on a powerful experiential leadership curriculum.

The DC portion of the program includes:

  • Thematic and experiential workshops on:
    • leadership and leadership skills building
    • intercultural communications
    • diversity and multiculturalism
    • critical global issues
  • A workshop on “storytelling for social change”
  • Site visits to NGOs and policy organizations such as:
    • United States Institute of Peace
    • Human Rights Campaign
    • CQ Roll Call
    • Congressional Management Foundation
    • National Institutes of Health
    • The World Bank
    • Other local community organizers and youth organizations
  • A tour of Washington, DC, including visits to the Smithsonian museums
  • Fourth of July activities

Examine public health priorities and community development in urban and rural areas of northern India.

IndiaIndia’s capital, New Delhi, and the immediate surrounding region is home to more than a thousand NGOs actively engaged in the health and development sectors. The National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women, and other rights-based bodies have headquarters in New Delhi. Within this dynamic environment, advance your leadership skills and knowledge of a critical global issue—health and its relationship with community development—building on the intensive training and leadership sessions you received in Washington, DC.

Through lectures, site visits, and workshops in four Indian states—Delhi, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh—you will explore equity and healthcare rights, challenges to gender justice, the political economy of health, social determinants of health, caste discrimination, and other key issues shaping Indian communities and the country’s healthcare landscape. Hone your leadership skills by facilitating weekly syntheses of learning and reflection, which may include debates, question-and-answer sessions, and small-group activities and discussions. Together with your group, consider strategies for community development and healthcare advocacy within the public health arena as you meet with community practitioners, public health specialists, physicians, professors, and grassroots activists across northern India. During the rural excursion to Bahraich District in Uttar Pradesh, participate in a seven-day workshop with a local organization working for improved public health, community development, women’s rights, and/or human rights.

As your knowledge of India’s community development issues and healthcare challenges rapidly expands, you will experience Indian culture and daily life, especially through the homestay with an Indian host family in a mountain village in the Himalayas. Receive functional Hindi language instruction, and visit important cultural and historical sites including the Taj Mahal. Other activities include meeting with Indian high school students and other youth who are advocating civic engagement and social change. Finally, return to the US for project planning sessions, briefings, and brainstorming sessions on a post-program project of your choosing to be implemented in your home community.

SIT Vermont campusFollowing your month in India, continue to advance your leadership capacity as you return to the US where you and your group spend four days on the School for International Training campus in southern Vermont.

During this portion of the program, you have synthesis and brainstorming sessions, briefings, and a reentry workshop. You also begin working on a post-program project of your choosing to be implemented in your home community.The Vermont portion of the program includes:

The Vermont portion of the program includes:

  • Reflection on and synthesis of learning
  • Workshops on reentry and culture shock
  • Workshops on project planning and project management, including a focus on:
    • Development of fundraising plans
    • Budgets
    • Group management
    • Social media strategy
  • Workshops on participants’ follow-up project, including a focus on:
    • Identifying key issues in participants’ communities
    • Ways to address issues with follow-up projects
  • Final presentations to a panel of SIT professors and local leaders

Program Eligibility and Selection Criteria—At a Glance

Because there are only 15 spaces per Leadership Institute program, the application process is highly competitive. We seek applicants who can take initiative through the application process, particularly because this is a leadership development program. Applicants—not their parent(s)/guardians(s)—are responsible for each step in the application process. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure his/her application is complete (including references and the financial aid form) by the January 18 deadline. It is highly recommended to complete the entire application early and to check in with The Experiment to ensure the application is complete.

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must:

  • Be rising seniors 16 years old and not more than 18 years old at the time of the exchange
  • Have a high school graduation year of 2018
  • Have permission from either a parent or legal guardian to participate in the full six-week program

What are the criteria for selection?

Students will be evaluated on the following characteristics:

  • Interest in global issues, a commitment to volunteer and civic activities, and leadership potential demonstrated through community and/or school involvement
  • Ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and tolerate the opinions of others 
  • Leadership potential demonstrated through community/school involvement 
  • Good social and communication skills
  • Strong academic performance
  • An energetic, positive attitude 
  • Ability to implement projects that benefit the applicant’s school and/or community
  • Demonstrated ability to reflect on learning 
  • Demonstrated potential to follow through with projects and apply what one has learned to new projects, initiatives, or plans. 

Application deadline: January 18, 2017

Application Materials:

Applicants for a Leadership Institute program must submit two references from two different adult teachers, mentors, or coaches; short answer responses; four essays; and a financial aid application completed by a parent/guardian. Applicants will be asked to describe previous leadership roles, learning acquired from those roles, and what the applicant hopes to gain through participation in the Experiment Leadership Institute.

Apply Now.

When you start your online application for admission, on the Program Selection page choose either India: Community Development and Public Health (Leadership Institute) or South Africa: Youth Leadership in Peace, Politics, and Human Rights (Leadership Institute) for your first- or second-choice program. (Enter a third-choice Experiment program that is not a Leadership Institute program. If you are not selected for the Leadership Institute, we will consider your application for your third-choice program.) When you reach the Letter of Reference page of your online application, you will be asked to submit the names and email addresses of the two different adult teachers, mentors, or coaches who will act as your references. Your references will then be sent our online reference form, which is required. Be sure to check in with your references and The Experiment to ensure the forms have been completed and received by The Experiment before the January 18 application deadline.

When you reach the financial aid page of your online application, you will be asked to submit the name and email address of a parent/guardian. Your parent/guardian will then be sent our online financial aid application to complete. Financial information for Leadership Institute students is only required for The Experiment’s documentation of the student range we serve.

Please also note that if you are not selected to participate in the Leadership Institute but would still like to be considered for one of our other summer 2016 programs, we can use your financial aid application information to determine your eligibility for one of our need-based partial scholarships. Be sure to check in with your references, your parent/guardian, and The Experiment to ensure the forms have been completed and received by The Experiment before the January 18 application deadline.

These are leader bios from summer 2015.

Emilie Clark

Originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Emilie currently lives in The Big Apple where she works with Girl Be Heard, a nonprofit that uses theatre to empower young women to be active agents of social change. Before putting roots in the New York concrete, Emilie studied and lived around the world in her quest to better understand how local solutions can change global systems of social inequality. She received a BA in global studies with a concentration in gender studies and youth engagement from Long Island University Global.

Emilie has worked with NGOs such as the Tibetan Women’s Association, the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, and the Center for Community Dialogue and Change (Bangalore’s first Theatre of the Oppressed organization). She is an extremely passionate social justice advocate, long-term learner, and life enthusiast who believes that study abroad can be one of the most meaningful and transformative experiences a student can have. 2015 marked Emilie’s second year as an Experiment group leader; she previously led a program exploring regional identity in France and Italy. When Emilie isn’t traveling, you can find her making vegan experimental baking messes in her tiny Brooklyn kitchen, attempting to teach herself Arabic, and exploring her own ever-changing city!

Sarah Robins

Sarah Robins is based in the Boston area, where she was born and raised and now works at a charter middle school. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a BA in international relations and human rights. During college, she also studied in New Delhi, India, through World Learning’s SIT Study Abroad program. Back in Massachusetts, she co-founded “J Street U,” a student interfaith organization focused on conflict transformation in Israel and the Middle East. Sarah has also served as a research assistant for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the outreach coordinator for UMass’s Student Union Craft Center, and the leadership development coordinator at Camp Shemesh in Amherst.

While Sarah’s first love is teaching, her second love is travel and intercultural learning. In addition to studying abroad in India, she has lived in Israel and traveled to 21 other countries. Some of her favorite travel memories are of overnight trains through India, colorful markets in the Caribbean, and meeting fascinating people in youth hostels in Europe. When she is not teaching or traveling, she loves canoeing, berry picking, reading, singing, and exploring farmers’ markets.