Solar Project in Tibet

DATES: 
May 28-June 11, 2014

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 
February 28, 2014

Free Tibet Slideshow and Information Sessions:
Thursday, January 23 and Tuesday, January 28 from 6:00-7:00 pm in room 1925

Our 2012 group after finishing the medical clinic installation
Our 2012 group after finishing the medical clinic installation

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:

We are looking for 8-12 participants to join us for a Photovoltaic (PV) installation at a remote 600 year old Buddhist monastery on the spectacular eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau.

The PV system we’re installing will greatly improve the lives of the twenty monks living at the monastery. Most of all they’re looking forward to something most of us take for granted- lighting during the long nights of winter.

The trip is open to anyone over the age of 18, and is organized as a class through the college. No previous experience is necessary. The instructors will cover all you need to know: solar design and theory, PV installation basics, Buddhism, and the history & culture of the Tibetan people. Empowered with this knowledge you’ll be able to directly participate in the solar installation and get the most out of this once in a lifetime experience.

Hiking next to Minya Konka (25,000ft)
Hiking next to Minya Konka (25,000ft)

In addition to living with the monks at the monastery, we’ll be hiking/horseback riding while gazing at one of the 50 highest mountains on earth (Minya Konka), visiting with yak herding nomads, and going to a Giant Panda breeding center.

The trip is open to anyone over the age of 18, and is organized as a class through the college. No previous experience is necessary. The instructors will cover all you need to know: solar design and theory, PV installation basics, Buddhism, and the history & culture of the Tibetan people. Empowered with this knowledge you’ll be able to directly participate in the solar installation and get the most out of this once in a lifetime experience.

 

Jeff always wanted to pet a panda
    Jeff always wanted to pet a panda

This is not a commercial tourism experience. Because of our partnership with the Tibetan Village Project, who has building relationships in this region for years, we’ll be welcomed with open arms by the monks and villagers. En route to the monastery we’ll stop in the village of Sihurong, where a previous SJC group outfitted a medical clinic with PV in 2012.

The Tibetan Village of Sihurong.  Site of the 2012 medical clinic solar installation
The Tibetan Village of Sihurong. Site of the 2012 medical clinic solar installation

Come join us for this memorable and rewarding mixture of service work, PV training, and cultural education!

Solar Mission on the Radio

Our project has been featured on several radio stations: 90.9 KSJE, 93.9 FOX sports, 96.9 KDAG, 102.1 KTRA, 102.9 KAZX, and 104.5 KKFG. Listen to an interview with trip leaders Mike Sullivan and Chris Strouthopoulos, as well as Tamdin Wangdu, the founder of our partner organization, the Tibetan Village Project.

COURSES:

ENGR299 Tibetan Village Solar Installation Project (3 credits)
and
HUMA299 Cultural Explorations of the Tibetan Plateau (3 credits)

ESTIMATED COST:  $4,600

The estimated program cost is all-inclusive (SJC tuition, airfare, ground transportation, meals, lodging, permits, visa, travel insurance, etc.). Non-New Mexico residents add $183. If we have a full trip (12 participants) this number may come down.

Additionally, each participant is asked to either raise or donate $500 for the purchase of the solar equipment. These contributions are tax-deductible, and should be made out to the Tibetan Village Project. Click here for more information or to make a donation.

ELIGIBILITY:

The trip is open to anyone over the age of 18, and is organized as a class through the college. No previous experience is necessary. The instructors will cover all you need to know: solar design and theory, PV installation basics, Buddhism, and the history & culture of the Tibetan people. Empowered with this knowledge you’ll be able to directly participate in the solar installation and get the most out of this once in a lifetime experience.

If you’re not already an SJC student, it’s free and easy to become one. Anyone over 18 years of age is eligible. Click here to enroll in SJC.

APPLYING:

Download and fill out the travel study application and turn it into the address provided on page 2 of the application.  If you have any questions, please contact trip leader Chris Strouthopoulos at strouthc@sanjuancollege.edu or 505-566-3210.

The application deadline is February 28, 2014.  We are only capable of taking 12 students, and the 2012 program was so popular we had to use a waitlist.  Therefore, those who submit their application early will receive priority status. 

Interested students will get hands on during the installation.
Interested students will get hands on during the installation.

FINANCIAL AID:

If you already have scholarships or other forms of financial aid through SJC for the spring 2014 semester, your financial aid should apply as usual for your tuition and fees. 

If you are a current full-time, degree-seeking, financial aid eligible student at SJC, you may be eligible to apply for scholarship funds through the San Juan College Foundation. Contact Cynthia Rapp Sandhu (trips@sanjuancollege.edu) for more information.

FACULTY:

Mike Sullivan will be teaching the three credit engineering component of the class. After graduating with honors from Rutgers University he began his engineering career working for Los Alamos National Laboratories, but now much prefers his current occupation teaching classes for Solar Energy International. Mike has led four previous installations in the Tibetan plateau, and has collaborated in Tibet with NGOs, private donors, and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratories. Additionally, Mike is a consultant with the non-profit Solar Electric Light Fund, and has personally design and installed solar energy projects for hospitals in Haiti.

Buddhist monks chanting their morning mantras
Buddhist monks chanting their morning mantras

Chris Strouthopoulos will be teaching the three credit humanities component of the course. Chris has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College, and his published work spans academic journals to Skiing and Climbing magazines. He is an Assistant Professor of English at San Juan College, where he recently earned the prestigious Annabelle R. Friddle Faculty Excellence Award. He has lived abroad on two occasions (Japan and Greece), and his personal travels have taken him to over two dozen countries ranging from Nepal to Peru. This will be the 6th international trip he has led for San Juan College..

Contact Chris Strouthopoulos, Assistant Professor of English and trip coordinator at San Juan College. You can reach him at strouthc@sanjuancollege.edu or 505-566-3210.

TIBETAN VILLAGE PROJECT:

The TVP describes itself as a "non-profit, non-political organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development while preserving the rich cultural heritage of Tibet.” It was founded in 2001 by Tamdin Wangdu, a native Tibetan hand chosen by the Dalai Lama to immigrate to America and study at University of Colorado, Boulder. After earning an MBA from CU Boulder, Tamdin founded the TVP and devoted his life to helping his fellow villagers. Working with private individuals to institutions ranging from CU Boulder to UVA, the TVP has a long track record of successfully completing projects on the Tibetan Plateau.

Learn more about the TVP.

2012 SOLAR MISSION RECAP:

Chris and Mike led the 2012 SJC project to a nearby village where SJC students outfitted a medical clinic with solar power. See pictures and learn more about the previous project.

HOW WE TRAVEL:

True to the Tibetan Village Project’s mission, we travel responsibly to minimize the exploitation of Tibet’s fragile natural and cultural landscape. We use local, authorized travel agencies and eat in local restaurants. Because we’ll be traveling far off the beaten tourist path, we’ll be staying in Buddhist monasteries and village homes to facilitate cultural exchange and support community businesses. Furthermore, we encourage our guests to purchase necessities and goods from village markets and shops, and ask everyone to use recyclable materials, pack up their own trash, and educate others on responsible travel.

TVP guides, one of which was born and raised in the yak herding village we’ll be staying in
TVP guides, one of which was born and raised in the yak herding village we’ll be staying in

WHY DO VOLUNTEERS NEED TO PAY?

Organizing effective, cost-efficient, and socially responsible international volunteer service presents a challenge in any part of the world – particularly in Tibet. Volunteer funds help maintain the Tibetan Village Project’s nonprofit organization, and are used in all of the structures, logistics, and support necessary to ensure project safety and success. We use funds to hire local coordinators and interpreters, rent vehicles, meet with community members, secure travel permits and liability insurance, and provide staff to support your project goals from the day we receive your inquiry until long after you have finished your journey.

TIBETAN AUTONOMOUS REGION VS. TIBETAN PLATEAU:

When most Westerners say “Tibet” they’re referring to the area around Lhasa that China has designated the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Because of Tibet’s complex political history, the Chinese government currently restricts travel by aid organizations to the TAR. However, the Tibetan people inhabit a much more expansive area throughout Tibetan Plateau. This is where we’ll be traveling, in an area of China’s Sichuan Province just over the border from the TAR. Historically, religiously, and geographically it is Tibetan in every way.