Oops! You must enter a search term greater than 3 characters.

Invite reviews

Invite friends and colleagues to share their experiences with this nonprofit
108 Reviews
1234.444445
| 1 2 3 4...11 |
Write A Review
July 16, 2014

more


1 previous review
August 28, 2013

I had never travelled outside of the US and decided I wanted to before graduating college. CCS allowed me to make the journey safely and with plenty of help. The experience was beyond amazing and the ... more

July 16, 2014

I spent three weeks in Morocco with the CCS program and it was an amazing experience. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful making staying at the home base very comfortable. The home base is beautiful and in an excellent location in Rabat. Morocco is definitely a country with loads to see on weekend excursions and is absolutely gorgeous!

Ways to make it better...

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

I really like the way the program is set up so I don't have anything that I would want to change.

More feedback...

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?

Life-changing

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?

2014

August 28, 2013

I had never travelled outside of the US and decided I wanted to before graduating college. CCS allowed me to make the journey safely and with plenty of help. The experience was beyond amazing and the people working at the home base are all very friendly.

More feedback...

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?

Life-changing

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?

2013

July 14, 2014

more

July 14, 2014

I spent 5 weeks in Bangkok, Thailand with CCS and it was an unbelievable experience. I loved every minute of being there. Right when I arrived to the home base, I immediately felt at home. My volunteer placement was exceptional and everyone was so welcoming and nice. The environment in Thailand and with the CCS organization was amazing. My experience was above and beyond my expectations. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

More feedback...

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?

Life-changing

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?

2014

July 14, 2014

more

July 14, 2014

I spent 4 weeks in Cartago, Costa Rica. It was probably the coolest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. The staff in Cartago were very helpful and very friendly--they always made sure I was comfortable at my placements and at the home base. I felt very safe at the home base and they could not have paired me with better placements. I feel it was the perfect way to be able to volunteer and experience the culture that Costa Rica has to offer.

More feedback...

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?

Life-changing

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?

2014

July 12, 2014

more

July 12, 2014

Had a very rewarding week in Guatemala with two of my young-adult grandchildren. Serving with them in a residence for handicapped orphans (many now in their teens and early 20s) taught me a lot about them and myself.

The CCS folks in Guatemala were warm and welcoming, home-base was
very comfortable, the food was really good and the cultural outings and discussions with the Country Director were informative and enjoyable. I would recommend a week or two there to anyone.

Ways to make it better...

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

Extend the 'work-day' (i.e., time spent each day doing service).

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

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?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

July 6, 2014

more

July 6, 2014

The Experience of a Lifetime (for the BUCKET LIST)!
Upon arriving in Rabat, Morocco, my experience of a lifetime began. We received a warm greeting from the Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) Moroccan Team as soon as we walked into the Rabat Airport. They knew exactly who we were and we knew
exactly who to look for because of all of the great pre-planning and communication that CCS facilitates prior to departure. I felt safe and secure from the moment I arrived and throughout my stay in Morocco.
When we arrived at the Home Base, we met all of the other volunteers. They included families, single professionals, seniors, teenagers and college students – wow what a diverse group of volunteers to get to know and work with over the next two weeks!
The CCS Country Director and his team provided a very comprehensive orientation session, covering topics ranging from how to hail a taxi to sharing insight into the history of the Moroccan people and culture. After a great discussion about our volunteer assignments, we were off to explore – wow the people are so friendly and patient as I practice my French and Arabic!
I volunteered at both the Women’s Center where I taught English as well as the Children’s Hospital where I was privileged to interact with Moms, Dads and of course the beautiful children – what an amazing and fulfilling experience!
The volunteer program is serious. The staff and children are dependent upon your being there every day. I truly felt like I was making a difference each and every day.
In addition to volunteering, each day we experienced a new and different part of Moroccan culture – cooking lessons, dance, the Medina, the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Chellah, and the Royal Palace. Such a rich history to learn about – lots to see and learn about in Rabat! Every day we also had free, vacation time and there was a great deal to explore in Rabat. I went to the Riad and experienced a Moroccan Hammam, which is similar to a Turkish bath – what a treat!
We also had the opportunity to travel on the weekends to other cities and places throughout the country of Morocco. Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fez and my favorite, Merzouga where we rode camels and slept in Berber tents in the middle of the desert.
The CCS team was highly professional and knowledgeable. They taught us so much about their country, created an environment of fun and teamwork, and ensured that our needs were met. The food was simply delicious. We had amazing cooks for breakfast, lunch and dinner each and every day!
The CCS experience provides you with a unique opportunity to volunteer and make a real difference. It creates a unique opportunity for you to grow as a person and discover new talents! The CCS model provides you with an amazing opportunity to also vacation, learn and see so much of the country.
It was truly an experience of a lifetime and should be on everyone's "bucket" list!

More feedback...

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?

2014

June 30, 2014

more

June 30, 2014

Going to Peru this summer with CCS was definitely one of the best decisions I've made. Preparing for the trip was made easy witht the help of staff who are very involved. Flying to a different country is a big deal but CCS helped and made it simple. I packed all the right things and the airport was seamless. The kindergarten we worked in was filled with happy kids who we fell in love with immediately. Helping them learn and grow is an experience I'll never forget. I learned a lot from them as well. This was a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget. I learned so much about the culture of Peru and the country's history. Everyday was a new exciting experience. I am so glad I spent 2 weeks of my summer working with these kids. This is a trip that everyone should experience!!!

More feedback...

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?

2014

June 27, 2014

more

June 27, 2014

My trip to Costa Rica through Cross Cultural Solutions was my second ever service trip abroad, and first experience with Cross Cultural Solutions. My experience was extremely positive from the moment I walked out of the airport to be greeted by the very friendly staff. My volunteer placement was at an elementary school assisting the teachers in English classes and also doing some maintenance work around the school. I do believe that my experience was a little more beneficial than some of the other volunteers because I am able to speak Spanish and communicate more easily with the students. However, CCS enables you to make the program as much work as you want to put into it. The early morning through early afternoon was spent volunteering. While it may not seem very long, the time spent was beneficial and pretty exhausting by the end of it. The rest of your time was yours to take small excursions, prepare for your next day volunteering, and spending time with the staff and other volunteers.
The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. I always felt safe and my questions were always quickly answered. It is clear that they are there to enhance your experience as much as possible. For someone who is looking for a rewarding experience or who may be traveling abroad for the first time, Cross-Cultural Solutions Costa Rica is the perfect program to choose. My trip abroad has made a lasting impact on my life and has inspired me to make even greater contributions in my years to come.

Ways to make it better...

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

have spent more time volunteering. I appreciate the program's freedom in giving the volunteers time to do other things, but I would have liked to volunteer in maybe city-wide cleanups or something like that during a few evenings.

More feedback...

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?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

June 24, 2014

more

June 24, 2014

My experience in Tanzania directly affected my decision to partake in my biggest, and most life changing adventure yet: The Peace Corps. I am currently 7 months into my service in The Gambia, West Africa as a rural health volunteer living and learning in a small village. While Peace Corps is the most intense, challenging, rewarding and inspiring experience I have had to date, I have to say that I don't think I would have been prepared or even courageous enough to go had it not been for my experience in Tanzania. The structure of training here was reminiscent of my time in Tanzania and I spent the first 2 months here so comfortable because I knew, just like my time in Tanzania, it would be wonderful.
CCS is a wonderful way for people to give back to the world, and to learn their potential as well as the potential of those around them. I absolutely believe in Cross cultural solutions, and I am forever grateful for my experience and the future it has given me.

More feedback...

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?

Life-changing

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?

2009

June 18, 2014

more

June 18, 2014

I absolutely loved working in Ghana with Cross-Cultural Solutions. It was life-changing. I have traveled to over 25 countries, and lived abroad and I got an experience in Ghana that I would never have been able to facilitate for myself. I had a meaningful experience working in a primary school. My main personal focus was the empowerment and education of the girl's in the school. We talked so much about how important school is, future goals and professional aspirations, and their desires to travel abroad. It was enlightening for both of us, I think. This organization is professional, and organized. I would definitely recommend using Cross-Cultural Solutions. I felt safe, ate amazing food at the comfortable home-base and learned more about the local community than I ever thought possible in a short 3 weeks.

More feedback...

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?

Life-changing

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?

2013

June 11, 2014
3 people found this review helpful

more

June 11, 2014
3 people found this review helpful

My purpose in writing this review is to help those researching a service-based trip and hopefully keep others from ending up in my situation. I was meant to be departing tomorrow to participate in a program with CCS in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. After a few things that seemed “off” towards the end of the process with them, I started doing some more in-depth research and what I found was truly upsetting. My goal is to share what I learned, consolidating several sources of information to make it easier for others. Read the below, do your own research and then make whatever decision is best for you. For my part, in the end there was no way I could be affiliated with this organization. Thankfully, I have found another program that I am quite pleased with. I am hoping to get my money back, but even if I cannot, I know I will rest easier for not having been a part of a program like this.

In my initial research I came across plenty of good reviews. It was only when I went back and reexamined them did it became clear that the positive and negative reviews addressed very different items. The good reviews were all about housing, food, transportation, free time, and the excitement of being in a new country. Occasionally, you’d find mention of the work, but only as it pertained to the volunteer enjoying it and not about the impact that was being made. The negative reviews are all about the work (or lack thereof). Many of their former volunteers describe how there was little to no plan or guidance for them and that the work they did was useless. Most disturbingly, that some actually felt they were doing more harm. There are also numerous complaints about the few hours spent working, no plan to build on previous volunteer’s work and a general feeling of being not needed. CCS seems much more oriented towards creating an experience to make people who participate feel good as opposed to identifying a community’s needs and addressing them in a meaningful way. I highly recommend reading OrenRose’s thoughtful review on page 15 on Abroad Reviews. Also recommended is Jeremy’s review, “exercise caution”.

As you do your research, you will find that most reputable programs do not allow participation for less than 4 weeks when working with children. This is to protect the kids and keep their needs at the forefront. The tale of a non-native English speaker being told to teach children English and teaching them to spell incorrectly is horrifying. Further proof that CCS is not actively looking to place people in appropriate settings to address a need. There is a great blog by a CCS volunteer who for her part really enjoyed her end of the experience. However, in describing the impact she had, she details a detrimental involvement for the children she was meant to help. Her assessment was, “The negative emotional and educational impact on the children from the turnover is enormous and very difficult for me to swallow.” Her very enlightening blog can be found here: https://carynlevyonline.wordpress.com/tag/cross-cultural-solutions/

I also learned that I would only work 42-56 hours over the course of 3 weeks. I inquired about volunteering more and was told that it would not be possible during week one, but at the discretion of the in country staff they might find me something for the remainder of my time. My feeling was they had no need or plan and would likely find some busy work for me. Also, it seemed clear that I could not go out on my own and find other opportunities, as they seemed to be in control of where and how I spent my time. My impression from other volunteers is that the program caters to those that may not have had much (if any) international travel experience, offering them a way to do so in a bubble. Those that had traveled before and/or volunteered before really seemed to be at odds with this program.

This was also my introduction to the fact that the afternoon activities are mandatory. While immersing oneself in the local culture is important, it is ridiculous that grown adults are not in charge of their own time. Feedback on these activities ranges from fantastic to terrible. (One volunteer’s experience of “learning” Swahili was being handed a list of verbs by someone who worked in the house.) Again, this only matters because you are forced to attend. Several people have complained about being treated as children in this way. The curfew also precludes attending certain events and festivals in town as well. It would seem the only local culture that CCS finds to be of note is that which they provide.

As the process went on, it became clear where CCS’ true focus was. During the orientation call that lasted an hour, about 8 minutes were spent on volunteering. The rest was about shopping, leisure time, etc. I also learned that our on-site orientation would involve local tour operators coming to sell participants safaris, etc. Their priorities became more and more clear. Their time and money is spent on everything except what should be the main reason you are there. (Part of the money you pay goes to have someone make your bed for you!) Bagamoyo is also only a summer program. This means not only is CCS not engaged in sustained long term work there, but there is also a home that has to be maintained for the rest of the year.

As I took a closer look at their financial operations, I learned that their Executive Director is a voting member of the board. This is generally frowned upon in the non-profit world as it is seen as a conflict of interest. I inquired directly if he votes on budget/compensation and got a vague reply that did not directly address this concern. Their ED also makes about 3x that others in similar positions do.

On Abroad Reviews you will see reviews by 3 people that were kicked out of the Costa Rica program on their first day. The story is very odd, but one thing that was consistent was that no one from CCS bothered to speak to them, they were simply presented with letters telling them to leave. I have no reason to believe their word over CCS, except that CCS' response on this public forum was to call the woman a liar and not address any of her actual concerns. Nor those of the others. They did this with another negative review as well. Rather then address the issues and present their POV, CCS responded unprofessionally. If you take a look at better-rated organizations such as IVHQ, you will see appropriate responses to criticisms. This one thing speaks volumes about an organization.

Letting all this go and just focusing on the work, the odds of my doing anything useful seemed slim to none. This was my main reason to not participate. The best-case scenario I could have hoped for would have been for me not do any harm, to have a neutral effect. The likelihood that I would have a negative impact was far too great. And in the end, are we not going to try and do some good? Is that not the point of this whole thing? I just could not be a part of a program that seems to be a vehicle to parade foreigners through an area in need as some sort of show and tell/cultural sight seeing tour to make them feel good about themselves. As one reviewer writes, this is a cultural vacation. Or volunteer vacation. But if you are expecting, as I was, an opportunity to work hard and make a difference, this is not the program for you.

The more I learned about effective volunteerism, it became clear that if you are going for a shorter period of time (let’s face it, we don’t all have the ability to go for longer trips) that a different type of project with specific objectives is more impactful. Habitat International builds for example, programs that have more immediate goals for short-term participation.

In the end, the most important thing I learned was to ask questions. If using an agency, apply to a specific program as opposed to a generalized location. What are the organizations long-term goals? Short-term goals? How do they use volunteers? What kind of constructive criticism have they received? Or better still, go direct. There are plenty of opportunities where there is no cost to volunteer, you just pay your room and board. You can be sure then that your resources are being used wisely. Perhaps most importantly, reach out to past volunteers – this has been the most useful.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

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

None

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

Filter by reviewer role:

Support This Nonprofit

Help this nonprofit get more reviews

5 tips for getting reviews

5 tips for getting reviews...

  1. Sending an email to clients, volunteers, donors, board members, and other partners with a link to your profile page.
  2. Putting a link on your Web site
  3. Including a link in your email newsletter
  4. Putting a link in the signature of your email
    Putting a link on your facebook page and status updates
  5. Tweeting out a link to your twitter followers