Welcome to India where everything can be described as incredible. Extraordinarily beautiful and diverse, life in India is an organized chaos of different cultures, religions, languages, and people. It is hard to describe India as a whole by simply traveling to and experiencing one region or state because the food, landscape, culture, and dialects change with every 100 miles in any direction. However, common misconceptions and stereotypes about India are often shattered once talking with the people and spending time with host families.
India, the world’s second most populous country (1.2 billion people) is the world's largest democracy. India is a multilingual and multi-ethnic society and home to a diversity of economic conditions.
What to Expect:
IFYEs will arrive in Delhi and spend a couple of days there before going to rural host families, which will often be shared with at least one other IFYE. Exchanges will most likely be hosted in the Punjab province in northwestern India in the fall months (Sept. – Dec.).
You do not really experience the real India until you take on the food - tasting different local dishes that are nothing like you can find in a restaurant at home. You will find that many families are vegetarian, dining on dhal (lentils), paneer (homemade cheese) with vegetables, and of course the Indian pickle. Do not worry if you happen to be a non-vegetarian. Families prepare dishes of mutton and chicken in different curries (sauces). However, most vegetarian dishes taste better than the non-vegetarian. The homes of many if not all people here, especially in the Punjabi villages, are very accommodating and always making sure your cup of chai (tea) and belly are full.
As the IFYE program with the U.S. was re-established in India in 2016 after more than 36 years, these IFYEs were hosted with families in northern India, spending time in the terraced apple orchards and hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Himachal Pradesh and the agricultural breadbasket of Punjab state, gaining experience with wheat, rice paddy, dairy and horses.
Besides the agricultural aspects, IFYEs experienced the cooperation and respect among different beliefs and religions. Staying with Hindu and Sikh families throughout the exchange program, they had the opportunity to live the IFYE motto of “Peace through Understanding” by going to Hindu temples and Sikh gurdwaras as well as celebrating special religious festivals and country holidays, such as Diwali. While half of the adventure is traveling by bus, cab or train, the opportunity to also see ancient and modern architectural wonders, such as the Taj Mahal, Qutb Minar, and the Golden Temple, in addition to the Rock Garden, India’s Gate, and the Hall of Mirrors should be at the top of one’s bucket list in India.
IFYEs have learned that flexibility is key to navigating through India. Never count on Plan A or B. Just roll with the punches and everything will come together. You will soon find that, like the traffic, life in India is a constant ebb and flow.
IFYEs at Work and Play
Applications for the 2023 program can be found here: Become an IFYE Outbound Participant.
Application Deadline: Until Filled
For additional information, please contact: Melissa Haberstroh, IFYE National Program Director at email@example.com