Students Prepare to Install Solar Panels in Rural Tibetan Clinic

A team of students from San Juan College (New Mexico) are planning a photovoltaic (PV) installation at a medical clinic in the town of Sihurong, located on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The group is travelling with Conscious Journeys, a “volun-tourism” organization that recruits groups to do service projects in rural Tibetan villages.

The clinic provides villagers in the area access to western and traditional medicine. It was built in 2009 by Tibetan Village Project (TVP), a small-scale development NGO that partners with Conscious Journeys to raise money and volunteers for projects designed to improve the quality of life in rural Tibetan areas, preserve Tibetan culture, and promote sustainability. The clinic is run by the local monastery in Sihurong.

The PV installation will provide electricity for lights and necessary equipment in the clinic. The students, along with solar engineer Mike Sullivan and SJU assistant professor of English Chris Strouthopoulos, will spend several weeks in the area. The students will learn about solar design and engineering in addition to undertaking cultural activities like staying with locals, visiting monasteries, and trekking in the mountains. The trip will count for six academic credits, three for renewable energy and three for humanities.

TVP will support to the group, including providing local guides and homestays. About 12 students will participate, and the project runs June 4-18.

Conscious Journeys is the volun-tourism program of the NGO Tibetan Village Project. Tours focus on providing services to local communities, practicing sustainable travel, supporting local businesses and connecting in a positive and meaningful way with Tibetan communities across the plateau.