U.Va. in Nepal: Nepali & Tibetan Encounters: Culture & Contemplation in Kathmandu



U.Va. in Nepal: Nepali & Tibetan Encounters: Culture & Contemplation in Kathmandu


Tue., Apr 28 2015 - 2:57 PM to Wed., Dec 16 2015 - 2:57 PM

This program invites students to participate in the unique multicultural and mountainous environment of Kathmandu, Nepal, and the wider Himalayan region through experiential education centered on the dynamics of cultural exchange, contemplation, and participatory digital ethnography. Students will explore the Himalayan culture and environment for a fall semester through excursions to sites of historic and contemporary importance for Nepalis and Tibetans throughout the Kathmandu Valley and wider region, combined with coursework, language study, contemplation, and multi-media projects conducted in collaboration with local partners. Students will choose between a Nepali and Tibetan track of studies.
Courses and Credit
This program is open to all 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year undergraduates in a US university. Students who successfully complete the program’s five courses will earn 15 credits in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. Courses include:
  • RELB 2559 Cultural History of Tibet and the Himalayas
  • RELB 2559 Sensory Ethnography in the Himalayas
  • RELB 2559 Contemplation in Theory and Practice
  • RELB 3559 Integrative Projects
  • TBTN 1010 First Year Tibetan (advanced available)
  • FRLN 1000 First Year Nepali (advanced available)

Program Director: David Germano is a Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia. UVa's Tibetan Studies and Buddhist Studies program are amongst the largest in the West. In 2000, he founded the Tibetan and Himalayan Library (, one of the world's largest digital initiatives building collaborative knowledge on the region. He is the founding director of the Tibet Center (, which houses an extensive set of foreign academic operations in Tibet and Bhutan, and directs UVa’s Contemplative Sciences Center ( to explore learning, research, and engagement initiatives across disciplines and schools.

Ana Cristina O. Lopes is an anthropologist with a PhD from the University of Sao Paulo and a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Columbia University. Specialized in the fields of anthropology of expressive forms, visual anthropology and globalization, she recently held appointments as visiting scholar at Center for the Study of World Religions (Harvard University) and at the Department of Performance Studies (Tisch School – New York University). Ana Cristina is the author of Tibetan Buddhism in Diaspora: Cultural Re-signification in Practice and Institutions (Routledge: 2015).
James D. Gentry is a scholar of Tibetan religion, culture, and society. In his PhD dissertation completed at Harvard University he studied the roles of sacred objects, such as relics, amulets, and other sacra, in the lives of Tibetan Buddhists. James’s research has led him to live in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, Tibet, China, and India for nearly eight years. He currently works as a visiting lecturer at Kathmandu University's Center for Buddhist Studies.
Students will stay with local families throughout the duration of the program, except for group excursions, when they will stay in hotels, guesthouses, teahouses, or tents. The program directors will assign students to host families based on linguistic compatibility—whether students prefer a Nepali or Tibetan language environment—along with other student preferences. Host families will provide breakfast and dinner daily. Lunch will be provided daily in the program house, located within short walking distance of all homestays. The program house will be the site for all classes and all other program meetings and events.
To Apply:
2. View the Education Abroad Workshop 
3. Complete the program application
Application Deadline
April 1, 2015
For questions, please contact Education Abroad Advisor, Ryan Hathaway, at