Educational Curriculum

All of Tevel’s service learning programs begin with an orientation designed to prepare the participants for the volunteer experience and to put that experience in context. In the Exchange for Change program, the orientation is 3-5 days in Kathmandu and in the Tevel Fellowship, it is 3-4 weeks in Kathmandu before moving to the village.

Orientation content includes:

Nepal- its people, language and culture

In order to work with communities, it is critical that you understand their culture. Therefore our amazing Nepali staff teaches all volunteers a series of courses designed to give a basic understanding of their world.

  • Nepali language – A short but intensive course in Nepali, designed to impart basic conversational skills (not included in Exchange for Change).
  • Nepali culture – Lectures on the culture, social structure and current political situation of Nepal.
  • From the village to the slums – Understanding both the day to day lives of the Nepali poor and the greater processes leading to their suppression. This includes: spending time in a remote Nepali village, living in villagers’ houses and taking part in their daily life in order to experience the unique challenges and problems of village society. Time is also spent in the slums of Kathmandu and learning about the lives of those who came to the city hoping to find their fortunes but instead found poverty, exploitation, and isolation.

Globalization and Jewish Values

We want the volunteer experience to affect you for the rest of your life. Therefore in the orientation, we put your experience in the context of the larger issues that are affecting both the marginalized Nepali communities as well as the entire world.

  • Globalization – the impact of globalization on the complex relationship between the developed and developing world is examined.
  • Social justice and human rights – Social realities in the developing world and how they relate to the rights of women, children, and other marginalized groups.
  • The environment – The influence of human society on the environment and the connection between environmental and social justice.
  • Jewish texts on social and environmental justice are explored as they find expression in prophetic and rabbinic works and in the teachings of modern thinkers.

The educational experience continues throughout the program and will, of course, relate to the daily volunteer work of the participants. During the volunteering section of the program there are monthly weekend seminars.

Professional skills by Thematic group

All volunteers are assigned to a thematic group in one of five fields: agriculture, women’s empowerment, education, youth and media (only open in the Tevel Fellowship). In the orientation, the Tevel staff and outside lecturers will enhance your professional knowledge of the thematic field in which you will be working.

Teaching Staff

The courses in Globalization and Social Justice in Judaism are taught by Yale University graduate and well-known Rabbi, teacher, and activist Micha Odenheimer. Micha is the founder and Executive Director of Tevel. He is also a journalist who writes for Haaretz, The Washington Post, The London Times, and other respected publications. Micha previously founded and led the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews.

Guest lecturers give various additional courses in social and environmental justice, Judaism, philosophy, public policy, and more. These include well-know activists and scholars such Eran ben Yeminy, Dr. Sarale Shadmy Wortman, musician and psychotherapist Yehoshua Englemenan, author and human rights activist Yuval Elbashan and others.

Classes in Nepali language, society and politics are given by Tevel’s Nepali faculty. Similarly, a number of Nepali figures are guest lecturers during the orientation phase of the program; these include heads of important Nepali NGO’s, as well as journalists and politicians of the first rank.

Dr. Eran Ben Yemini

Yuval Elbashan, Adv.

Dr. Sarale Shadmy-Wortman


Weekend seminars and continuing education during the volunteer period are led by Tevel staff members who are themselves graduates of the program. These staff members provide group and individual guidance during both the educational and volunteering phases of the program.

Lastly, we believe strongly that every participant has something to contribute to the group’s development. Therefore, we encourage participants themselves to prepare and teach classes and workshops during the orientation period, at weekend seminars, and in weekly study sessions.