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Cross-Cultural Solutions

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.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Oct 17, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Cross-Cultural Solutions

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.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Costa Rica
Posted: Oct 16, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Rustic Volunteer and Travel

After spending almost five weeks in Sri Lanka, I know I definitely want to come back. I have been volunteering teaching Buddhist monks in a local monastery, and it has been an amazing experience. Even though there was a huge range of English speaking abilities at the monastery, I still was able to hopefully teach them some. But most important was what I learned from the monks. Their way of life is so different from mine, growing up in a large city. Also, the host family I stayed with in Galle, was beyond kind. They have been very hospitable and fed me some of the most delicious Sri Lankan cuisine. I highly recommend volunteering here.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Sri Lanka
Posted: Oct 16, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
8
Value:
8

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

In May of 2014, I volunteered with IVHQ's orphanage program in Ghana. I stayed for one month and it was a fabulous experience. I would highly recommend this program to others, especially to those who are traveling abroad for the first time.

It was my first time traveling abroad, and also my first time traveling alone. I completed the program independently, but I did make friends with the other volunteers whom I stayed with. I was 18 years old when I traveled to Ghana, and I had a mother who was very worried about safety. IVHQ has an amazing staff who is very professional and supportive. Before traveling, an IVHQ employee was in contact with me and gave me all the details of my program. I contacted this employee many times via email to ask questions, and she always responded quickly. Once I arrived in Ghana, the in-country staff were amazing. I had various phone numbers to reach them on 24/7 and they made me feel very safe.

I stayed in a volunteer house with the other volunteers on my program. One of the Mamas who worked at the orphanage would come make our meals for us and clean our house. She was so friendly and would always be there to offer advise about the program or travel plans. I spent most of every day at the orphanage because the primary reason for my trip was volunteering. IVHQ's program is dedicated to making a real change in the lives of the children. On weekends many volunteers travel to the main city or to other tourist attractions. Ghana is a VERY beautiful country!!

IVHQ is very organized and I had absolutely no trouble volunteering with them. If you are contemplating volunteering abroad with this organization, especially in Ghana, please just do it! I was very apprehensive at first, but it was a decision I will never regret.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Africa
Posted: Oct 15, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
8

WorkingAbroad

I volunteered in Rio de Janeiro as a football trainer and English teacher. Through WorkingAbroad I was placed at the local organization Iko Poran. Iko Poran placed me in a project called Jocum in the favela Borel. Jocum is a very organized Christian charity with a hospital, music school, women project, football project and they organize a lot of different activities for the community. Safety in the favela was no problem; in fact, the people were very welcoming to me when they knew that I volunteered for Jocum and they were very eager to participate in the program. The participants of the football project are around 18 years old, so playing football with them is a great experience in itself if you like football! Staying there for a longer period gives you the chance to really make a difference and help the people, although a short stay will be great too. Next to the football trainings I also taught the participants of the football project English classes.
As I stayed for almost 3 months with another volunteer, we became good friends with the boys in the favela and they treated us like we were one of them. Still months after volunteering, I'm in touch with many of the boys from the football program and I promised them to come back!

What I liked the best are the relationships we could build with the football players and help them in making their life decisions, eg. about going to school, having work, how to treat the girls in the favela, how to stay away from criminality, etc.
More information about the project on www.goal4rio.com

Iko Poran has two houses where you will live with the other volunteers. Living with the other volunteers is a lot of fun and you will enjoy every day/night. At Iko Poran, Zac and Vivi help you with everything you need, they also offer you Portugese language course, which helps you a lot to get around.

Improvements for the program:
Pricing of the program could be improved. Just to volunteer we paid a lot for accommodation and breakfast. However, the quality of these were pretty bad. The mattresses were bad, kitchen equipment was very old and the wifi barely worked if everybody was back in the hostel.
For breakfast, there were only white slices of bread, cheese, ham, most of the time a piece of fruit, 1 type of cereals, milk and coffee. For none of us this was enough to start a full day of volunteering.
To sum up, nothing too bad, but Iko Poran can easily improve these to improve the experience of the volunteers.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Oct 14, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

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