The HACEP is a unique program that allows students from various countries to study cultural traditions, language, etiquette, history and the diverse landscape of Nepal, as well as engage in cross-cultural exchange with Nepali youth. The program is designed to improve awareness and understanding of different values and break the cultural gap between youth of different countries. HACEP is especially focused on providing a meaningful and impactful experience for gap year students between high school and college, but it is open to all young adults between 15 and 25.

Nepal is a landlocked multiethnic, multilingual and multi-religious country situated north of India in the Himalayas. The country is divided broadly into three ecological zones: the lowlands, the midlands and the highlands. The altitude of the highlands, or the Himalayas, ranges from 4800m to 8848m with some of the world’s highest mountains, including the iconic Mt. Everest at 8848 meters. The highest peak in the world is towering above populated valleys and forested plains. The midlands, or the hilly region, accounts for about 50 percent of the total land area, which is formed by the Mahabharat range and the lower Churia range. The lowlands, or the Terai region, is a flat river plain of the Ganges with a belt of marshy grasslands and forests and occupies about 20 percent of the total land area of the country. Terai has some religious monuments like the one in the Kapilvastu district called Lumbini, where Buddha is believed to have been born.

In addition to Nepal’s geographical diversity, it is rich with cultural diversity as well. Nepal is home to multiple religions, races, tribes and cultures. It is fascinating to discover how well people have adapted to their environment in amazing ways. The entirety of the people of the country speaks the Nepali language, which is also considered the language of unification, though there exists a copious amount of other dialects as well. Multiple ethnic groups have their own mother tongues. The people living in the Himalayan region are mostly Sherpas, Manangis and Dolpapas. These are the people whose traditions and language are influenced mostly by the Tibetans. The hilly region has Newars, Brahmins, Chhetris, Gurungs, Tamangs and Thakuris. They have their own way of life, whereas the major ethnic groups living in the Terai region are the Majhis, Tharus and Bhojpuris. The culture and traditions of all these ethnic groups differ from one another. Despite these differences, everyone unites to celebrate many major festivals. Notable festivals in Nepal such as Dashain, Tihar, Lhosar, Indra Jatra, Gai Jatra, Teej, Chhath Parba, Maha Shivaratri and Buddha Jayanti are widely observed all over the country.

Having so many diverse regions, Nepal is the perfect place to explore different cultures, beliefs, societies, languages and much more. This exchange program is designed to create opportunities for international students to gain alternative perspectives, broaden their horizons, increase their tendency for acceptance and develop a greater understanding of Nepal.

Mission and Values

This proposal is based on the unique experience and opportunities currently existing in the Himalayas. It is a great feeling to be in the presence of such massive mountains and enjoy the serenity of Nepal’s environment. There is so much to learn from the people living in the highlands; their ways of life and traditions are completely different from other regions of the world. In addition, the international community will benefit from gaining a greater understanding of a culture different from their own and adapting to a new environment. This program allows students to explore and appreciate the outdoors and instills the skills of outdoor leadership, risk assessment, conflict management, and environmental education.

This program highlights an additional, and especially challenging, situation of cultural clashes as a result of differences in religious, ethnic and cultural values. Through this cultural exchange program, we try to understand the needs and interests of the students in their understanding of different landscapes, cultures and social values, and we push them to broaden their perspectives and understand cultural outlooks different than their own. We aim to offer a life-long impact for students who are keen to embark on an international adventure. With the strong force of globalization, it is important for youth to gain experience in understanding cultures different than their own to prepare them for the many challenges they will face in their life. As a result, we have designed this program to provide the possibility for students to participate in a cross-cultural exchange encouraging self-reflection and expanding perspectives.

Additionally, in a world where corporations and academic institutions are looking for international experience as they seek to fill leadership positions, it is important for youth to leave their comfort zones through international stretch experiences, developing their character and leadership. Providing students with these international opportunities will open doors for them in the future. Understanding the importance of engaging with the global community, we are providing a bridge to facilitate this cultural exchange and encourage growth in both the international and Nepalese students.

Exceptional for Gap Year

During a gap year, students often undertake activities such as study abroad, travel, volunteering, developing life skills (such as outdoor leadership), etc. If you’ve just finished high school and are soon off to college, you can spend part of your gap year with HACEP to gain a greater understanding of another culture and spend meaningful time exploring the world’s most beautiful mountains. In the process, you’ll experience personal growth and overcome challenges that will prepare you to enter the next stage of your life.

Program Activities

We are looking to work with students between 15-18,18-22 and 22-25 years old belonging to schools, universities and institutions for this program. This program is designed to accommodate an equal number of international and local students from Nepal, so that they can learn from each other and exchange cultural foundations. This will help them to appreciate the value of learning about other cultures.

The program we have designed is a total duration of 38 days in the eastern part of the Nepalese Himalayas in Everest region (Mount Everest is the top of the world, with a height of 8848 meters). During the first 17 days, the students learn the disciplines of outdoor leadership and life-skills while backpacking in remote areas. The students are trained to handle different scenarios and obstacles and their reactions are evaluated. In the following 5 days, the students have the opportunity to test their skills and the knowledge they’ve gained in the previous 17 days. They backpack as a student group without instructors for these 5 days in the same Everest region. However, the instructor constantly monitors and evaluates their activities to ensure their safety. Another 8 days is for giving back to the local community. As students may be majoring in different fields of study, they can choose their own focuses for their community service. For instance, students majoring in engineering can help design fencing for local agricultural farms in one of the villages, or work on creating a waste management system in schools. The social work will be done in groups and from this the students can learn about the local elements of the community. The final 6 days are devoted to cultural exchange where the international students visit the homes of the Nepali students participating in the program. During this period, we assign a particular project related to cultural exchange to the students which they complete individually.

Team Members

Freedom Social Foundation is a non-profit, social initiative founded by a group of likeminded outdoor professionals who aim to open up avenues for local youths to gain skills for future employment. The team members want to create an impact through education, training, awareness and health. Our work is based in remote areas that are deprived of services and access.

As for this 38-day course, we will be working with three highly-qualified, internationally-trained outdoor instructors. The lead instructor, Jagan Timilsina, has worked with the prestigious National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) as an instructor for 5 years, and he runs his own trekking company in Nepal for Western tourists called Freedom Adventures. And we are completing this project in partnership with a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Ashley Wade.

Logistics Management

The logistics will be managed smoothly during the course period. Logistics include food, accommodation and transportation. During the 38-day Himalayan Adventure Cultural Exchange Program, we will be based in a remote region in the Himalayas where the accommodation will be in basic hotels in the first 17 days. Given that the second 5 days is all about outdoor leadership and life skills, students will be backpacking and camping. Students will be involved in social work in the next 8 days related to their field of study. The students will be staying in local tea houses or tented camps depending on the location they choose for doing the volunteering social work. For the last 6 days, international students will be involved in a cultural exchange project where they stay at the house of their local friends. As for the food, the cost is included in the total budget but students will be taught to cook their own meals. In addition to hiking, students will use safe local transportation.

Budget Plan

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on fundraising and generous donors to support our activities working with the rural Nepali youth. For this exchange program, the cost will be covered through tuition from international students. The total number of students for this Himalayan Adventure Cultural Exchange Program will be 20 people (10 foreigners and 10 Nepalese), with a length of 38 days and a total expense of 3381.45 USD for each student. In this model, the foreign students also fund the cost of the Nepalese students so this program can be accessible to low-income Nepalese students. This price will be increased if the number of participants decreases.

Overall Outcomes

There is extensive literature and research on the value of cross-cultural interactions for youth. Our program also teaches the disciplines of outdoor leadership and helps students develop the life-skills of effective communication, building cross-cultural friendships, and creating social support networks. This program results in mutually-beneficial relationships between the Nepalese students and the international students which facilitate growth and expanded mindsets. After the Himalayan Adventure Cultural Exchange Program, the students will have gained life-long friendships and can keep in contact. In addition to providing rewarding personal relationships, these friends can also be important for networking later down the road. This program provides the opportunity to discover oneself while gaining an understanding of different cultures. Being in a new place as students can be overwhelming, and this program tests students’ ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to solve problems. Trekking is an experience unlike any other and requires resilience, growth, and self-reflection.

This project is scheduled to start on 22nd June 2020 and end on 29th July 2020


Trekking + Basic Outdoor Living Skills (Tea House) Program

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu, Spend the night in Hotel (e. 1300m.)

Day 2: Sight Seeing at Kathmandu Valley, Spend the night in Hotel (e. 1300m.)

Day 3: Kathmandu to Lukla (e. 2840m.) Flight and Trek to Phakding (e. 2610m.)

Day 4: Trek Pkakding to Namche (e. 3440m.)

Day 5: Rest in Namche (e. 3440m.)

Day 6: Trek Namche to Tengboche (e. 3860m.)

Day 7: Trek Tengboche to Dingboche (e. 4410m.)

Day 8: Rest in Dingboche (e. 4410m.)

Day 9: Trek Dingboche to Lobuche (e. 4900m.)

Day 10: Trek Lobuche to Everest Base Camp (e. 5300m.) Overnight at Gorakshep (e. 5100m.)

Day 11: Gorakshep to Kalapathhar (e. 5500m.) and hike to Dzongla (e. 4830m.)

Day 12: Trek Dzongla to Gokyo (e. 4790m.) Via Cho La Pass (e. 5300m.)

Day 13: Trek Gokyo to Dhole (e. 4200m.)

Day 14: Trek Dhole to Namche (e. 3440m.)

Day 15: Trek Namche to Chaurikharkha (e. 2500 m.)

Day 16: Trek Lukla to khari Khola (e.2200m.)

Day 17: Trek Khari Khola to Phaplu (e. 2400m.)


Camping Basic Program

Day 18: Trek Phaphlu to Loding (e. 2400m.)

Day 19: Trek Loding to Pikey Peak (e. 4000m.)

Day 20: Trek Pikey Peak to Goli Ghumba (e. 2980m.)

Day 21: Trek Goli Ghumba To Deurali (e. 2600m.)

Day 22: Deurali to Jiri (e. 1300m.)


Community Support Program

Day 23 to Day 30 at Jiri (e. 2000m.)

Jiri: Community Infrastructure Development Program

Build a Bridge/ Fencing local agricultural farms/Waste management in school


Cultural Exchange Program

Day 31 to Day 35 (Nepalese students’ homes)

Day 36: Arrival Kathmandu (Reunion)

If you are interested in joining us on the HACEP program, please email us at