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Woodstock’s campus in the Himalayas encourages an appreciation of the environment.

The Woodstock School will be one of SAI’s internship partner sites for Harvard students.

With a location 7500 feet above sea level in the Himalayas of Northern India, the Woodstock School offers its students a unique experience. Founded in 1854, the K-12 school has evolved into an internationally-minded residence school for students from all over the world.

“The school has been a pioneer in providing holistic education to kids, and we emphasize the development of strong character,” says Sanjeev Puri, Chief Operating Officer of the school. “We focus a lot on curiosity and innovation.”

The student body hails from 30 different countries from across the globe, with about half coming from India, as well as South Korea, the US, Australia, the UK, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. The school recognizes that in an increasingly global world, students must value cross-cultural connections.

The beautiful, isolated, location is essential to the school’s mission, according to Puri. The school integrates an appreciation for nature into its curriculum. “Much of our learning techniques here happen outdoors, in an environment that is so very conducive to learning,” says Puri.

The Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study, part of Woodstock’s outdoor education program, contributes to the sustainable development of the region by encouraging an appreciation and understanding of the Himalayan environment.

The Centre provides students with an academic experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else. “Studying in the Himalayas in Northern India offers such a rich and diverse experience,” says Puri. “Many people don’t know that we have places like this in India, because the image of India to outsiders is very different.”

The Centre hosts not only Woodstock students, but school groups and organizations from all over the world, including several study abroad programs from American universities. Students take courses in ecology, environmental studies, conservation, and language immersion.

And although the School was founded with a Christian tradition, it emphasizes diversity and inclusion when it comes to spirituality. “We have a lot to learn from different religions, and the primary fundamental traits of each religion are equality, respect, and love,” explained Puri, who says this holistic, inclusive approach to learning is vital in the world today.

“I think one of the main issues that I see is that many conflicts originate because we don’t understand the perspectives of other religions, and sometimes we pass judgements,” says Puri about the importance of cross-cultural understanding. “So understanding these issues is obviously very important at Woodstock. What we offer in terms of diversity and cross cultural exchange offers a great perspective for the kids.”

The school encourages students to think globally about what they learn. For example, in April, a group of students will travel to New Delhi to meet with Kailash Satyarthi, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize who promotes peaceful and nonviolent means to ending the grave exploitation of children and promoting children’s rights.

“These kinds of experiences and exchanges help a lot in enhancing the understanding for the kids of what is going on in the world,” says Puri.

Moving forward, the school hopes to continue its mission of encouraging diversity and cross-cultural learning. “We are very keen to look towards what the future holds for us, and establish our position as an institution in India that pioneers education with a very inclusive mindset and a lot of cross cultural connections.”

SAI has partnered with the Woodstock School to offer an internship for Harvard students, which would involve language instruction, community engagement and outdoor education. Check our website in the future for more updates.

-Meghan Smith