With the unspoken epidemic of stress and depression infiltrating every community, how can kids (of all ages) learn to generate their own happiness regardless of the situations they face? Follow three groups of high school students from three continents on a quest to understand the nature of lasting happiness. What they discover uncovers the potential for happiness that is in us all.

The film focuses on four teens from Santa Cruz, California. Each faces personal obstacles to happiness: loss, alienation and the everyday challenges of being a teenager passing into adulthood. An innovative project that asks the question “How do we achieve lasting happiness?” introduces them by internet and video diaries to their peers in Nigeria and India and quickly leaves lectures and books behind. The teens also engage in conversations with cultural icons George Lucas, Richard Gere and groundbreaking neuroscientist Richard Davidson. The three international groups ultimately meet face to face in India for the first time to prepare for a rare private audience with the Dalai Lama.

Project Happiness, our feature length documentary film, follows a senior high school class from Mount Madonna School near Watsonville, California, on a journey to discover the true nature of human happiness. Joining them on this quest are students from the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala, India, and students from the Dominion Heritage Academy in Jos, Nigeria.

Using email, blogs and video cameras, the participants from three continents exchanged their cultural perspectives. Over seven months, they shared personal stories, opinions and challenges, which created the foundation for life-long friendships.

Following many months of reflection and cross-cultural conversation, the American students traveled by plane, train and 4WD to India to connect for the first time face-to-face with their counterparts. As a community, they continued to test their theories, ask hard questions and prepare for the meeting of a lifetime… a private interview with the 14th Dalai Lama.

Culminating on graduation day, this is an experience they will never forget. It is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us to see through the eyes of our youth what is most important in the universal quest for lasting happiness.

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