Cross-Cultural Solutions

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8.9 / 10 after 123 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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What an enjoyable, amazing experience I had as a Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteer in Rabat, Morocco. Home Base was so comfortable. That entire staff was always so accommodating. It was very comfortable, I always felt safe, and any questions I had were always answered. It was really a pleasure to volunteer teaching English. While working with each student and school administrators it was a great opportunity to share in cultural stories, and have fun during the entire process and time there. Although in a volunteer-teaching role, I learned so much!!

What a beautiful place and wonderful people; and I look forward to returning. I feel so fortunate to be able to volunteer in general. But the opportunity to volunteer abroad and have exposure to different cultures reminds me of our sameness, and also how much bigger our purposes are here. I am humbled and blessed.

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Location:
Posted: July 20, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: le2lifeLE
Age:

I accompanied my teenage daughter for three weeks of volunteering in Dharamsala. Overall, I would say we had a very good experience. I loved India, and the children and teachers at the childcare where we worked were wonderful. We were the first volunteers at this site, which was somewhat undeveloped, which proved challenging. We were able to identify some of the issues that needed to be addressed beyond the time we were there, and hopefully moved everyone toward developing a curriculum.
We were well looked after by the staff: picked up at the airport, fed, and generally made to feel secure. This was very good, because I had never volunteered or been to India, and it was pretty overwhelming for me. It was very overwhelming for my daughter, but she also liked the experience on the whole.
We lived in a flat with several other volunteers. While I liked them personally, I found it difficult to live in a dorm-style setting after having my own home for many years. The food was simple and healthy, although far too spicy for my palate. It took a couple of weeks before the cook was able to tone it down to the point that I could eat the vegetable and pulse dishes. I would be interested to volunteer again, but I would like to do it in a way that allows me more personal space and freedom.

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Location:
Posted: July 17, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
8
Age:
58

I traveled to Lima, Peru with CCS for two weeks. It was the most amazing and eye-opening experience of my life. As a sixteen year old girl, getting onto a plane and traveling eight hours away from home can seem very daunting. Once I arrived in Peru, I felt welcome and safe. The in country staff were so welcoming and responsive. Our group of nine volunteers quickly became good friends and we all got fully immersed into the new culture. The school we volunteered with was for children five years old and younger. It was easy to communicate with the children even with a language barrier. My favorite part of every day was definitely attending the school and working with the children! After we volunteered, we had cultural learning activities. I loved hearing about Peru's history and learning about the devastating Shining Path. Spanish lessons were my favorite activity, but dance lessons were a big hit. Also, we went to a huge Incan market where you could find alpaca blankets, hats, socks, jackets, teddy bears, and everything else alpaca. We toured downtown Lima and visited exciting attractions like the Palacio de Gobierno. I've never learned so much about one country! The two weeks flew by too fast and it was very hard to say goodbye. I would go back in a heart beat and I definitely plan to volunteer with CCS in the future.

Program:
Location:
Posted: July 16, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
16

I just graduated from James Madison University in May. I was planning on taking the summer to travel and spend time with family. My older sister had volunteered in Thailand and Brazil with Cross Cultural Solutions, so I decided to look into their programs. I had never done a volunteer trip like this before, but did spend a semester abroad in Florence, Italy and consider myself a “well traveled” woman.
Despite the apprehension that my family and friends had that I was going to a predominately Muslim country during a time of war and unrest in the Middle East, I spent two weeks in Rabat, Morocco! I too had a lot of anxiety before departing, mostly concerning my safety. It was also going to be a bit of a unique experience, because I visited during Ramadan, one of the most religious times of the year. However, these feelings were quickly quelled when I was greeted at the airport by our program director Mohamed Mhmmoudi , and when I arrived at our home base in Rabat.
Our home base was clean, comfortable, and in a very safe neighborhood. We had a guard 24 hours, and were quickly informed about how to stay safe in the city. We were told what taxis to use, Arabic and French phrases that would be of help to us, and the general location of all things. During our orientation, the staff was extremely helpful and knowledgeable about where to eat, how to act, and our placements. They were open and honest with us about everything! Within the first twenty-five minutes they asked us who wanted to go to the Eastern Sahara for the weekend and ride a camel. All of us shot our hands up, and Mohamed organized a trip for us with transportation, accommodations and a tour guide all taken care of! It was easy, and is one of my favorite memories from the two week time spent in Morocco. On the way to the Sahara we stopped to see monkeys on the road and met Nomads. I truly felt like it was something out of a National Geographic article and an experience I will never forget! Orientation was thorough and helpful. The staff made me feel right at home, along with the other volunteers.
The food was delicious and no one during my stay there got sick. The water was all filtered and everything was clean, which is something that is not a given in some countries. We were served three meals a day with lunch being the biggest. There were plenty of options and a variety of different dishes to choose from. They also catered to dietary restrictions such as gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan. There was a grocery store right down the road from our home base, where we could shop for snacks as well. The home base had a separate refrigerator for volunteers, if we wanted to keep some of our own snacks. This worked very well, and no one ever took others food etc. we all respected one another’s stuff. Personally, I can tend to be a picky health nut when it comes to food. I am going to miss the delicious fresh cuisine they served us, especially couscous Fridays and all of the fresh fruit! I did get a few of the recipes, so I will be able to recreate them in the states! We also had two cooking classes while I was there, which were great. We got a very good understanding of how much passion and emphasis they put on meals. In addition, I visited during Ramadan, so it was fun to learn all about the traditional food they serve when they break fast.
The home base was incredibly clean, safe and gorgeous! Our room were cleaned everyday, and we got clean towels whenever we asked for them. I did not feel uncomfortable and or out of my element at all. I had two other roommates and they were very respectful of my belongings. The home base also had locks and safe places to keep any valuables such as a computer, and passports. However, I never felt the need to lock anything up. I often had my laptop sitting on a table while I left to volunteer for a few hours. I am a huge runner, and was nervous I would not be able to exercise while I was there because of security issues. Luckily, I found a running buddy the first day (a fellow volunteer) and there was a super safe park that we ran to and around every morning. We ran down a street inhabited by embassys and royal families, so there we guards all along the way. They quickly recognized us, and we would say hi to them every morning. Again, I felt safe and secure. However, we did make sure we were respectful of their culture and wore long running pants and a long sleeved shirt.
I loved my placement, and did feel like I was making a difference. For the first week I was put in a children’s hospital. I played with the kids and family members while they were waiting for treatment etc. The children were incredibly affectionate and loved to do crafts. I could tell the mothers also appreciated someone else occupying their children (giving them a bit of a break). The second week, I taught English and was thoroughly impressed with the ability of the children to soak up all the information I handed to them. The kids ranged from ages 6-15. At times, it was challenging because there were a lot of different levels from beginners to more advanced students. However, I learned how to adjust to this. I had never had any teaching experience prior to this, but the staff helped and supported me along the way. Abdellah (CCS Staff in charge of our placements) was constantly checking in with us making sure we were happy with our placement and if we weren’t what he could do to change that.
I believe the CCS program in Rabat, Morocco was absolutely incredible. I had a bit of apprehension going to a predominately Muslim country, when it came to my safety. However, I soon learned that the CCS staff and fellow volunteers were there to make me feel as safe and comfortable as possible. I learned an immense amount about Morocco, and about the Muslim culture. I also felt like I was truly able to extend myself to others in my volunteer placement and hopefully teach them a bit more about my culture and the English Language. As an American Citizen I can proudly say that we need more programs like this in Muslim countries! We need now more than ever to educate ourselves on Islamic beliefs and values. We also need now more than ever to immerse ourselves in Muslim countries, to understand them, and encourage them to understand us.
A HUGE THANK YOU TO CCS for giving me the opportunity to explore Morocco, learn, and give back to another culture!

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Location:
Posted: July 14, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: metrokmc
Age:
22

I have read through these reviews with interest. I cannot comment on any of the programs people seem to have had problems on, but wanted to leave a review of my time with CCS and my thoughts on how volunteers can get more from the program.

I volunteered in Russia (sadly no longer a destination they offer) with CCS in 2007, and am thinking about volunteering with them again. I had a fantastic time in Russia, and had no problems with staff, meals, accommodation or my placement. I volunteered in a hospital - playing and spending time with children (many with special needs) who may otherwise of had no visitors. They loved having us come and visit them, and would rush down the hall when we arrived for hugs. What made a huge difference between my experience and that of some of the other volunteers was the language barrier. I had taken Russian lessons for 6 months before my trip and I really think this helped so much. I would recommend learning some of the language before you go. Being able to write, read (even if I didn't always understand!) and engage in a little chat (hello, goodbye, thanks, what's your name, etc) made such a difference when on my placement, and when out and about. I was able to make myself understood when asking for directions or paying for things. I was nowhere near fluent and sadly have forgotten much of the language since, but I was at a real advantage compared to some others who hadn't even learnt how to say hello, thanks or please. Even if you can't attend lessons there's so much now online, youtube, etc. Or borrow/buy some books/CDs from the library.

I also think that volunteering is a very personal thing. While I had no issues with my time in Russia, I spoke to another volunteer who felt that CCS wasn't the right company for her. She had no issues with CCS, but said she wouldn't volunteer with them again as she wasn't particularly interested in all the other activities (language lessons, trips out, city tour, etc) and just wanted to spend all her time volunteering. There were also volunteers who had no idea what they were letting themselves into - these people were in the minority but they had read little of the literature we had been sent, were asking questions about things we had already received information on, seemed surprised about certain things we had been told about, etc. The idea of volunteering, and then being faced with the reality of it are two very different things. Some volunteers left as they couldn't face working in the (very difficult) conditions of some of the placements, and some left because it was a complete culture shock (again I do think that learning the language helps with this). I have no idea why some of the people were there, they didn't seem particularly interested in learning about the country, culture, language or really their volunteer placements. I saw some really shocking behaviour while I was there (from a small handful of the volunteers). Saying all that the majority of the volunteers were lovely people, and I have stayed in touch with some.

My placement itself was for about 3 hours a day. I could have gone to an afternoon volunteer placement as well if I'd asked, but I wanted to do all the extra things on offer as well as see the sites so didn't take this option up. I'm not sure how much detail to go into as Russia isn't a option CCS offer any-more, but if anyone is interested please comment and I'll go into detail.

All in all I would recommend CCS, but can only comment on my one experience. Others on CCS placements in different countries may have a completely different experience, and obviously the staff make a huge difference. I'd recommend contacting several of the alumni who have recently been to the country you're thinking of volunteering in before making a decision.

Program:
Location:
Posted: July 8, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: kestrel
Age:
38

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