I have volunteered with Cross-Cultural Solutions on 5 different occasions. Each time it has been an incredible experience and I hope to travel with them again. I travelled to Moshi, Tanzania once and Rabat, Morocco four times. I fell in love with both places and would highly recommend both trips to anyone that in considering volunteering abroad. The program is very well organized and the quality of the volunteer placements really makes you feel like you are giving back as you are working with grassroots organizations in each country. I can't say enough about the orphanage and school where I worked. I made amazing connections with both the children and staff, many of which I still keep in touch with today. The in-country staff were fantastic in both locations, they really go above and beyond to make sure you are safe and comfortable and have the best possible experience. The accommodations are lovely and the ease of getting to your placement with the help of their drivers/transportation was also great, it really allowed you to focus on the volunteer work and not the logistics. The food was also wonderful and CCS really gives you a unique opportunity to participate in other cultural activities, such as day trips, traditional cooking, dance and music. The way the program is set up you work hard in the mornings and have a good amount of time in the afternoons and weekends to really get to explore the location you have travelled to. Some highlights were a safari in Tanzania and a camel trip through the Sahara Desert in Morocco. My experiences with CCS have changed my life for the better, prior to my first trip I worked in a job that I wasn't completely in love with, since my travels I have realized I love working with children and have gone back to school to become a teacher. I owe these positive life changes to my experiences with CCS.
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As an international volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions, you're making a meaningful contribution, working side-by-side with local people and sharing in the goals of a community that warmly welcomes you. You're experiencing another culture like never before and really getting to know its people. You'll gain new perspectives and insight into the culture and yourself. It's an exciting and personally inspiring experience, and you'll develop memories that will be with you forever.
I volunteered with CCS in Costa Rica for two weeks, working in an orphanage in Cartago for both weeks. The information that CCS provided in advance when I was preparing for my trip was very thorough and I could access it on demand via the website at times that were convenient for me. I felt as well-informed as I could be before arriving in Costa Rica. The in-country orientation after arrival was more specific to my assignment and other local matters and was exceptionally comprehensive. CCS made resources available such as tip sheets from previous volunteers as well as access to local CCS employees with direct knowledge of the orphanage. The CCS staff in Cartago all were amazing, from the driver who greeted me at the airport all the way up to the country director. They made me feel welcome and made it easy to assimilate quickly and get ready for my first day of volunteer work. They could answer every question and someone was always available to lend a hand. The housing is basic as you might expect but comfortable and safe. There was round the clock security, and plenty of snacks and beverages available at all times, not to mention comfortable hammocks for lounging time. The cultural activities available to volunteers were diverse so there was something for everyone -- seeing local sights, taking dance lessons, or learning to make homemade tortillas, among other things. My experience at the orphanage will have a lasting impact on me. The children there don't normally have the opportunity to get the kind of attention that we as volunteers are able to provide to them while we are there. Even on tiring days when there are a lot of kids present, you know that it matters that you came. All in all this experience was both fulfilling and fun. I would volunteer with CCS again in the future.
Volunteering with CCS in Costa Rica for 3 months was the best idea I have ever had. I was a recent college graduate looking for something to do to fill my time between job searching and figuring out life as a post grad. This was exactly the experience I needed in my life. I volunteered for 4 weeks in a Special Education School, then another 4 weeks in an Orphanage, and my last 4 weeks I was in a Regular School teaching English. The intrinsic rewards I took away from each placement was unbelievable. The sense of gratification that while I was only in each placement for 4 weeks at a time these kids had such a huge impact on my life and outlook on life!
The cultural learning activities that the staff takes you on was always fun. I saw so much during the work week. The rain forest, coffee plantation, Irazu volcano, and the butterfly house were among my favorites. The staff was absolutely amazing. Everyone is friendly and willing to do whatever it is to make you feel comfortable. It was comforting as someone who only knew basic Spanish that the staff spoke English. The living conditions are clean and safe. The night guard was friendly and very alert of activity outside the gates.
As a CCS alum I can not wait to continue doing my part with this organization and continue to explore the world while making an impact in the lives of those in need of a helping hand.
I spent one week in Hohoe, Ghana with Cross Cultural Solutions. This was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life. I was picked up by the in country director and was able to talk to him the whole way to the home base. He shared with my information about Ghana and the Volta Region, which is where I was stationed. Upon arriving at the home base I was greeted with a hot meal and a bedroom ready for me and my belongings. While in Hohoe, I felt so welcomed by the staff and within the first day felt like part of the family. My placement was at a local private school and I chose to work with Junior High School students. The experience and relationship that I made with the students was something I will never forget. The staff at the school was so welcoming and enjoyed my being there. The town of Hohoe itself is such a great place. I never felt unsafe walking around and everyone was extremely friendly. While most people speak English, they would say various phrases to me in Ewe to help me learn and were happy to correct me if I stumbled with my wording. The children were also excited when I tried to speak Ewe to them and would laugh and correct me when I messed up. The cultural excursions were very fun and memorable. Atsu, the house manager, spent most of the time with us while on excursions and knew very much about each location and was able to answer any questions and also give his input. Leaving my class on the last day was a very emotional day for me and also leaving Ghana altogether was very hard. I plan to make another trip to Hohoe in the next few months to be re-united with my Ghanian family!
This was an amazing experience that I will be doing again. Upon arrival the staff were very welcoming and they immediately treated me like family. I felt very safe at all times and had no problems getting around town or to excursions. The excursions were great! We visited a waterfall, climbed to the second tallest mountain in Ghana, visited local farms, and more! I was placed to volunteer in a local private school and I loved all the children. They welcome you with open arms and love to see you everytime you come. I will miss their smiles! I have made great friends on this trip with the staff because they are so much and make it fun for you. Do not be afraid of anything here, it is very safe and everyone is very friendly and welcoming to visitiors. The community loves visitors! I would recommend this program to everyone because it is something you will enjoy throughout! Go to Ghana!! I loved it and will return!
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