Cross-Cultural Solutions

Rating: 4.49 stars   134 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture, International, Philanthropy, International Exchange

Location: 2 Clinton Place New Rochelle NY 10801 USA

Mission: Our Mission is to operate volunteer programs around the world in partnership with sustainable community initiatives, bringing people together to work side-by-side while sharing perspectives and fostering cultural understanding. We are an international nonprofit organization with no political or religious affiliations.
Results: 35,000+ Volunteers and 99.73% of our volunteers said they were satisfied, or very satisfied with the CCS experience.
Geographic areas served: International
2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 93-1189960
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Community Reviews

Rating: 2 stars  

I volunteered in lima, peru. I enjoyed my experience, and the staff members were all kind and accommodating of my special dietary needs, which I really appreciated. The senior citizen center where I volunteered was well staffed and over staffed with volunteers. I think that I expected that my service would be needed, and it wasn't, though I was glad to be able to help in the community by rebuilding portions of a house for the cutest little women I've met to date! Getting to know the people and the history of the community was rewarding, and I'm glad I went, I just found myself searching for purpose in my travel and expense as I was clearly not needed. I did find purpose and joy in the little bit of service that I was able to participate in, I just expected the service aspect to be more valuable to the people then it was. My experience led me to the realization that ccs is a vacation organization with a little bit of service instead of the other way around. As long as you understand that, and understand that you are paying 2500$+ for transportation to and from the airport and to and from your volunteer placement, a place to sleep and food to eat, and nothing else, you'll likely really enjoy it. The money wasn't an issue with me, so i really don't resent it, but if I had been saving for a long time, I probably would have. I could have stayed in a 5 star hotel with 5 star meals and gotten my own transportation and traveled around a bit for that price, but, the fact that I was traveling alone for the first time, staying with other volunteers made my trip more enjoyable. I really did enjoy getting to know the other volunteers. I would say that if this is your first time traveling abroad, and you feel nervous about it, ccs is a comfortable way to go, if you can afford the upfront expense and all the expenses of your travels in country. The "cultural immersion" activities were really more of a bother then an enjoyable part of the program, though I did enjoy learning about the history of the community. Now that I've been to Lima and seen how comfortable I am in that city, I would not return their with ccs. I, personally, would have a more meaningful experience with something more authentic and service oriented, as the service was more of a motivating factor for me then the vacation was, and I found myself with a significant amount of time to kill, and really didn't have the extra cash to do any significant traveling in country.
I did have one other motive in going and that was to see if ccs would be a good program for my high school age niece to participate in on her own, for the service and the culture. During my stay, there were three 18 year old kids, one still in high school, who liked to stay out past curfew and drink and party all weekend. Though there were technically rules in place about those issues, they were not enforced, and the kids were left to wander the city on there own at night, drunk. Though there was someone to open the door for them at any hour, and the night guard did call the director, he did not enforce the rules. This would have been an uncomfortable living arrangement for my niece, and a lonely one, with very little support, so it isn't likely that I will send her out with ccs either.
I am giving 2 stars because I enjoyed my trip and I was grateful to not be bothered with finding vegetarian meals. I'm not giving more because I felt that ccs did not manage my money (there were 11 staff members half of whom I didn't know what their job was) my time or my service well, they did not live up to their clearly written rules on safety as displayed on their website (the seat belts in the vans didn't work, they didn't enforce curfew or drinking rules, etc.) and the cultural immersion was almost entirely self-directed and a further expense to myself.

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Rating: 5 stars  

CCS was absolutely AMAZING!!! This was my first time traveling abroad and I was VERY nervous... My anxiety was immediately relieved when I met Mohamed at the airport in Morocco!!! Everyone at the home base made me feel right at home! The accommodations were up to par and we were very well fed with very yummy Moroccan dishes! CCS provides many great opportunities to learn about the culture and immerse yourself completely! The volunteer placements are well researched and meaningful! I worked at the orphanage with the special needs kids and it was so rewarding and all of the staff was very nice! Most importantly, I felt safe!! This experience was life changing!!!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I just completed two weeks of volunteer work in Cartago, Costa Rica. I have done volunteer work in several other countries around the world (Guatemala, Trinidad, Kenya, Jamaica), but the CCS experience has been the best. The work that I did was rewarding itself (helping a teacher and a cafeteria worker at a local school) . Above and beyond that, however, the CCS staff made the in-country experience comprehensive. We had optional classes to help us learn and understand the local language (taught by a top-notch instructor). Other options were visits to local areas of historical and cultural interest. These optional classes/trips helped me to gain a deeper appreciation for the host country and its people. We had instruction on how to do the local dances (i.e. mambo, salsa, etc); and we had three amazing meals at the "homebase" everyday.
It's possible to become so absorbed in doing "the volunteer work" in a country that one can totally miss the "bigger picture" of the country. CCS is interested in making sure that its volunteers have a "Total Experience" because that gives the volunteers a greater "connection" with the country's people.
Although I would love to return to Cartago, there are other countries where CCS is based; I plan to explore some of these. Also, I plan to share my knowledge of CCS with high school students and others who may be looking for a top quality mission/volunteer experience.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Do nothing different

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Rating: 5 stars  

Absolutely Amazing. I was able to serve in Cartago, Costa Rica over my Spring Break. CCS allows you to see the real culture, people and cuisine of the country you are in. There are many concerns about "Charity Tourism" and its problems. CCS; however, has a constant presence in their community and the work they do is badly needed. While the trip was a little more expensive than other volunteering trips, they amount of activities we did and the difference we made up for any and all expenses. My week with CCS Costa Rica has been the best day of my life.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I had the privilege of volunteering through the CCS in India program in March 2015 and I cannot overemphasize what an incredible, transformative experience it was. The staff genuinely cared about our group's experiences there and did everything to ensure our comfort, safety and learning about Indian culture. The flats were very comfortable and the food was incredible. They were also very responsive to requests of all kinds as well as ensuring that we had fun in our off time. I loved it so much that I hope to go back.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I was a part of CCS India in March 2015 and it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I felt safe and comfortable during my stay and the CCS staff was amazing. I would love to volunteer at other CCS locations in the future and encourage everyone to look into their programs.

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Rating: 3 stars  

CCS is an organization where the magic of the program happens "in-country"! The local staffs provide a great experience that combines volunteering in the mornings with cultural immersion programs in the afternoons. And of course there is time to explore on your own, which I would highly recommend doing. Traveling on the weekends is a highlight for any abroad trip. It's a great way to meet others.

While the program fee is a bit expensive, I think that overall the program meets expectations. You could go with someone else, but you definitely won't have the same level of support. Moreover, I encourage anyone to ask questions before signing up; what does an average day looks like, how much of my day is spent volunteering, where is my money going when I pay the program fee, review the financials of an organization, and most importantly to evaluate the impact that you will have (at the community level as a volunteer and you as an individual in what you will learn).

Good luck in your search and keep an open mind when it comes to learning about new cultures!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I was fortunate enough to experience Lima, Peru for 3 weeks with Cross-Cultural Solutions. The team and the volunteers at the placement were so welcoming and frankly all amazing people. I worked at both the school and the senior center. Both experiences were amazing and left me with memories I will carry forever. I learned so much from the short time I was there from the people I met, the rich culture and the beautiful surroundings. Lima is now my new favorite place in this world and I plan on returning as soon as possible. Thanks CCS! I highly reccomend this company for anyone who is interested in international volunteering.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered at CCS India Dharamsala this summer during the month of July. Every portion of the volunteer experience, from my placement to the cultural events planned were extremely well executed. As a special education teacher, although a position was not promised, the crew in Dharamsala worked hard to make sure that my volunteer experience would align with my training. I hope to be able to volunteer with CCS again, as many of the volunteers who I worked with this summer were on their second or third trip and it seems that all the locations are as well run as India.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered in New Delhi, India for 2 weeks and absolutely loved it. My placement was eye-opening and inspiring all at the same time. The social workers and teachers at the placement were supportive and so pleasant to work with. But most of all, it was the children that grabbed my heart and will remain unforgettable. I learned so much in such a short period of time , that no text-book or course can ever provide. Hands on experience, meeting and engaging with the people and the culture, is truly the greatest way of growing , learning, and expanding as a person. The change within you will only be felt and noticed once you return home to your routine life . It'll hit you and wow you simultaneously. No other travel experience has enriched me as the one I completed with cross-cultural solutions. I am still glowing from my adventure 3 weeks later...... !! :)

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