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Indigenous Exchange

17 days | TBA

$2,000 (scholarships available)


The connections between Indigenous people are becoming apparent as a key to human resilience. Without cultural diversity, biodiversity also declines, pulling the planet out of harmony. In order to better understand how we can survive as a species, it is important for those close to the earth with ancient knowledge to have time and space to interact and exchange ideas. 

Garchen Institute Tibet hopes to bring together indigenous people from across the globe to study and work with Tibetans. Exchanging methods of cultural resiliency and sustainability techniques, we aspire to eventually hold conferences and provide space for leaders to connect.

For the time being, the institute will host one indigenous person per year to travel and stay in Tibet for free.



International and Domestic airfare and overland travel, 3 meals a day (mostly vegetarian) and accommodations for 2 people per room. Soft drinks and extra snacks not included. Daily yoga, philosophy and meditation instruction as well as AA meetings and sober support if wanted.

*Additional personal expenses: passport + Chinese Visa $130 + Personal travel Insurance (1 month) $80 + Spending Money $300 (special additional day tours to go to a Panda sanctuary etc. are offered through the guest house)

Deadlines: Applications due to the Pureland Project by March 11 to hold your spot. The passport must be obtained by March 31st. We have 1 full scholarship available per year.

Air Travel: We will try to bring the scholarship student prior to the sober group to give an extra orientation and perhaps some extra community talks. Other tour Participants (see sober experience) will arrive in Chengdu, China (CTU) on May 14th and to depart Chengdu, China on May 29th. You would be welcome to stay on as long as you like at your own expense!



The area of Tibet we will journey to is known as Kham. It is considered the wild west of Tibet, inhabited mostly by nomads. The rugged mountains are not hospitable to any other way of life. 


Tours to the region are quite rare, yet as roads are being built, the area is seeing rapid change. This trip is not only to share the precious wisdom of Tibet and expose people to its sacred spirit, but also to show the Tibetans how valued and respected their culture is by the outside world. 


We will engage the Native and Tibetan and Recovery communities in conversations on resiliency in terms of cultural and environmental and spiritual sustainability for recovery in many forms.
We will begin the tour in Chengdu in the Sichuan Province of China. Chengdu a culturally rich and diverse city in the Western region of China. We will be meeting with college students at the Minorities College there to speak about the issues of cultural sustainability and how the Tibetan situation relates to issues facing Native Americans. From Chengdu, we will fly up to Yushu in Qinghai and travel by van to Nangchen, Kham. We will stop in Yushu to see Tibetan resilience in action and observe how the city is rebuilding from a devastating earthquake in 2009. 


Our time in Nangchen will be spent primarily at the Garchen Institute Tibet in Gargon village with the school communities. Every day will begin with Yoga, meditation and Tibetan lessons, and end with a 12 step meeting or “circle”. During the day, our adventures will range from hikes into the mountains, to tours through historic monasteries. From Gargon we will head back to Chengdu via Yushu. We will have a final celebration dinner in Chengdu before boarding our flights back to the US on June 1st. Most students will be returning to Prescott for summer school while others will be heading for home visits.

Expectations and Conditions: This trip includes 4 days on the road. In order to reach the monastery of Gargon, the group travels over roads that are long, bumpy, and dusty. We may need to cross rivers in jeeps, wait for landslides to clear, push our vehicles out of sticky spots or make detours. The altitude is high, the food choices are limited, and the group may camp for one night. Hot showers are mostly in Chengdu and toilets on the road are mostly outhouses. The travel is challenging and rewarding! Stamina, patience, and good teamwork are required. Students will learn to become skilled international travelers. Any student with some wilderness experience will feel at home. Photo opportunities are unparalleled.

Requests: We hope that the scholarship student will prepare the following:

1) a multimedia presentation on your culture to share with Tibetans

2) a written review of the trip and your experience within a week of your return from the journey.


Participants must be drug and alcohol-free and abstain from any and all use of mind-altering substances during the sober part of the tour.


You will be given a portfolio of 10-12 articles to read that cover the foundational aspects of the culture, history of Tibet.



Margaret “Meg” Ferrigno Ph.D. founder and Executive Director of the Pureland Project. Molly McGinn Ph.D. Managing Partner, TreeHouse Learning Community.


Meg voluntarily organizes the tours to raise funds for Garchen Rinpoche’s village school projects which she manages under the Pureland Project. Meg speaks Tibetan and spent several years in Tibet at Gargon.


Molly is the co-founder of TreeHouse Learning Community in Prescott and Tempe. She is in long term recovery, has her doctorate in Anthropology and did some of her fieldwork in Tibet. She taught at the Academy of Science in Chengdu for a year in the 80’s before working in Tibet.


Due 4/1/2020

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