Cross-Cultural Solutions

Rating: 4.51 stars   140 reviews 13,373

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
800-380-4777
http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/

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Rating: 5 stars  

It's hard to believe that only a week ago I was in Rabat, Morocco, ending a week of service with Cross Cultural Solutions. I am a faculty member at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida and I was with a group of faculty and students from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.

Although we were well-prepared by CCS staff prior to actually getting to Morocco, it was the in-country staff that brought the experience to life. Mohamed Mhmmoudi, CCS Morocco Director, and his staff made us feel at home and helped us connect to Moroccan culture. Our service locations were a Women's Center for adults to learn and practice English, a Children's Hospital, and an orphanage where we worked with children with special needs. Each service location welcomed our assistance and made us feel valued. CCS staff also led Moroccan cultural experiences on cooking, language, and religion as well as opportunities to visit key sites and experiences in Rabat such as ancient Roman/Moroccan ruins, the medina, and the casbah. Our home base was, indeed, our home away from home. Meals literally provided us with literal "tastes" of Moroccan cuisine. The home base was well-maintained, comfortable, safe and secure. I am convinced that being a part of CCS was the ideal way to experience Morocco.

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Rating: 5 stars  

In one word to sum up my experience: Amazing
In one word to sum up what I experienced: Growth
In one word to sum up what I felt in India: Gratitude
Volunteering in Dharamsala India with my 17 year old daughter was an experience of a lifetime. I am blessed to have found such a wonderful organization who made the process simple. I am a life coach and learned more about myself during the two weeks in India, then I learned in a year of career training. I would recommend anyone who is looking for an amazing opportunity to travel, learn, immerse and grow to take the leap and use CCS as your guide through the process. The staff was amazing, knowledgeable, fun, and truly wanted us to have the best experience possible....mission accomplished! I plan to take groups of women over for my business to have the same experience....CCS will be my partner Organization!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2015

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Rating: 5 stars  

If Casablanca and a sunset camel ride into the desert doesn't get you - volunteer with CCS in Rabat, Morocco . While those images are great - the smiles you get from the special needs children at the orphanage, where I was stationed, will last forever. The opportunities for educational travel are great - but can not hold a candle to the staff and educational experiences right at your home base -they will carry you for however long you stay!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I volunteered in Thailand with CCS and it honestly changed my life! I couldn't find any family or friends to go with me which was a bummer, so I was thrilled when I came across CCS and their home-base model. It was comforting to know that I would be with other volunteers and in-country staff throughout the program. I had traveled a lot before, but this was my first big solo international trip and once enrolled, my Program Specialist made sure I was totally prepared before I went which eased my mind and my parents! She was always available to answer questions about what to pack or expect.

The program itself was incredible. I was really able to learn so much about the Thai culture through the activities in the afternoon. We visited pretty much all of the temples, met with monks and even learned to cook Pad Thai. Pimsuda and her team are the best! What really made the program though was the work I assisted with in a school for children with disabilities. Though their amenities were nicer than I expected, it was easy to see they were a bit short staffed! I helped teach swimming for OT/PT therapy and worked in the classrooms to assist in teaching English! I knew I was making an impact not only because of the relationships I was building with kids and teachers, but because I was also continuing an English project were another recent volunteer left off. It was cool to see the kids progressing in the 4 weeks I was there. The teachers also took me in as one of their own, despite any language barrier and invited me to lunch breaks, after work gatherings etc! It was the best way to take in the culture. I met a lot of tourists during my weekend travel to the beaches or Chang Mai and they had no where near the cultural insight or appreciation for Thailand that myself and other CCS volunteers had. I now know that volunteering is the best type of travel and will be returning for another CCS program soon!

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Rating: 5 stars  

I had an AMAZING experience with CCS! It really allowed me to travel independently as a women and completely immerse myself in a new culture. I volunteered in Ghana, India, and Peru and I felt that CCS does a great job of balancing volunteering with cultural learning or immersion and free time to experience the culture. I volunteered in an orphanage in Ghana, a women's group teaching English in India, and in an elderly center in Lima, Peru. The volunteering challenged me and I felt that the local community greatly benefited from my volunteering. I would recommend this program to all my family and friends! It's such a great and meaningful experience and has changed my view of the world.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I just returned from my second trip with Cross-Cultural Solutions in Rabat, Morocco. Each trip was absolutely wonderful and without a single complaint. The staff is amazingly wonderful from the van driver who delivers us and picks us up from our volunteer placements, the guard who always greets us at the gate with a smile, the cook who prepares fantastic Moroccan dishes and will definitely accommodate particular needs in diets, the house manager who keeps things organized and also provides some of our afternoon lectures, and the country director who makes sure our placements are suited to us, is our afternoon lecturer on many topics, and serves as the person to go to with any assistance we might need. He always made time and treated each question with equal importance. My volunteer placement during this 4 week trip was at an orphanage for children with extreme special needs. We had about 25 children, ages 3 to 30ish. Our jobs were to help feed the children breakfast, which could take up to 45 minutes, and then play with them, stroll them in their wheel chairs, hold the small ones, help with crafts, or listen to music accompanied by shaking some noise makers. In spite of extreme disabilities, these children stole my heart quickly. The staff was wonderful in helping us to become helpful. They were patient and very appreciative. In a few days we were able to be somewhat independent, knowing what was required of us. The staff spoke some, but limited, English. If we didn't understand, we could always follow by example. It would have been beneficial to speak French since it was the staff's strong second language, however, I speak no French and felt fine with creative communication. Other placements were teaching English as a Second Language or playing with children in a general hospital who were undergoing long term care, using crafts and music, Since it is 'cross cultural' part of the mission is for the volunteers to learn and understand the local culture. In the afternoons we had a class in cooking, Islam, women in Morocco, language, or script, for examples. The depth of the staff's knowledge was absolutely amazing. Their willingness to answer any questions made the afternoon sessions feel more like conversational learning. Our home base was very nice and comfortable. Our sleeping was dorm style with bunk beds. The neighborhood felt quite safe. I am a runner and, as a woman, was very comfortable running alone before breakfast. There are restaurants and coffee shops very nearby, plus other shops, if needed. Local extra-curricular travel by taxi was never a problem. If we wanted to go somewhere and doubted that we could make ourselves understood the staff would write it out in Arabic. As far as week-end travel, there are many enchanting places to go including the desert, Marrakesh, Fez, Chefchouaen, and beach locations. We traveled by bus and train. Again, without any problems. While traveling if there were questions it seemed there was always someone around who could answer our questions in English or French. Before each trip to Morocco I was asked many times by friends, "Is it safe?" I can only say that my experience from the moment I arrived at the airport in Rabat was a sense of absolute friendliness, being comfortable, and a feeling of being safe. I will definitely be making a third trip there.

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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  

1 person found this review helpful

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

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2015

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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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