India (Leadership Institute): Community Development & Public Health

Experiment Leadership Institute

Examine public health priorities as well as community development in urban and rural areas of northern India as you strengthen your leadership and social change skills.

Peace, Politics, & Human Rights



Outdoor Activity




June 30, 2020


Program Description

This program begins with intensive leadership training in Washington, D.C., where you will visit community organizations and explore what it means to be a changemaker. Depart for India’s capital, New Delhi, to continue that exploration. You’ll learn about the country’s history, stroll its open air markets, and visit sites like Gandhi’s tomb. Against this dynamic backdrop, you’ll advance your leadership skills and knowledge of global health and how it relates to community development.

Through site visits, lectures, and workshops in four Indian states, you will explore healthcare rights, challenges to gender justice, the political economy of health, social determinants of health, caste discrimination, and other critical issues. Then, work with local youth to create your own community development project.

As your knowledge of India’s community development and healthcare issues grows, you will experience Indian culture and daily life through a two-week homestay with a local family in a mountain village in the Himalayas. There, you will meet with community leaders, public health specialists, and grassroots activists. Learn the basics of the Hindi language and practice in markets and restaurants and on train rides across the Indian countryside. Visit the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Continue to build your leadership skills as you return to the U.S. for guided project planning in Vermont. Throughout your senior year, you will work with a Leadership Institute mentor and cohort of peers to carry out a community project in your hometown.

Optional College Credit

You have the option of enrolling in a college-level course that accompanies The Experiment Leadership Institute experience. Credit may be subject to approval by your institution.



Must have a high school graduation year of 2021


June 30, 2020 - August 3, 2020

Program Fee:


Group Airfare Cost:


Depart/Return City:

Washington DC/Vermont


New Delhi, 3 days


Nainital*, 14 days

Other Accommodations:

Hotels and school dormitory

Past Group Leaders

  • 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.

Washington, D.C.

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The 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


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Learn about Indian culture and heritage in Northern India, while gaining an understating of public health priorities and community development in both urban and rural areas.

You will visit four Indian states—Delhi, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh—you will be able to perceive, observe and have conversations about key issues shaping the communities and the country’s healthcare landscape.

India’s capital, New Delhi, and the immediate surrounding urban 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, and the experience which you will get from the trip and interaction with the locals, you will get to 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, D.C.

During the rural excursion to Bahraich District in Uttar Pradesh, you will be in a position to compare the challenges being faced by the youth in India and the US by interactions and sharing the experience with the girls from the local community. You will experience Indian culture and daily life, especially through the homestay with an Indian host family in a mountain village in the Himalayas. You will get an opportunity to learn the basics of the Hindi language (widely prevalent in northern India), and visit important cultural and historical sites including the Taj Mahal. Other activities during your excursion would include meeting with Indian high school students and other youth who are advocating civic engagement and social change for welfare of the society. 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.


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Following 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

How to Apply

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 scholarship form) before the January 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 2021
  • 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 15, 2020

Application Materials:

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 India & Nepal (Leadership Institute): Community Development & Public Health  for your first-choice program. (Enter a second- and 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 second- or third-choice programs.)

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  application deadline.

When you reach the scholarship 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 scholarship application to complete. Financial information for Leadership Institute students is only required for The Experiment’s documentation of the student range we serve.

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 application deadline.