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January 26, 2013
11 people found this review helpful

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January 26, 2013
11 people found this review helpful

I've been looking for volunteer programs for my 8-yr old son and myself and came across CCS because they aggressively advertise family opportunities.

The question I have according to the attached 2011 Financial statements: Executive Director, Steven Rosenthal, made almost 400K in direct
compensation in 2011. The statements also document that he owns the property CCS works on - and made an additional $718,413 in rent from CCS in 2011. Same in 2010, 2009, etc.

I hate to be cynical but it does sound a bit suspicous. The ED is making over 1 million dollars a year on CCS. Possibley a travel agency disguised as a non-profit?!

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Unsure

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Some

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

January 3, 2013
10 people found this review helpful

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January 3, 2013
10 people found this review helpful

I completely agree with swine09. Definetely not worth the money, thank god I only signed up for one month. But still it was $3,700 dollars that I could have spent towards a more worthwhile experience in volunteerism. I was in India in the fall of 2012 with CCS in the Dehli program. It is a very dishonest company that is full of promises but falls very short of delivering. Alex Brandt the coordinator of the program in NY lied when he said I would be volunteering at least 4 hours a day, I was lucky if I volunteered one hour a day. When I wasn't volunteering there was a lot of downtime and a few scheduled cultural activities a week. Activities such as taking us to some temples, or monuments with printed handouts for us to read over. They provided a schedule for a few of the cultural buildings in town offering dance productions. I felt that the cultural activities would be rewarding to do with local guidance but most of the time they just dropped us off with a printed page on the history or told us how much to pay for a rickshaw to take us to the dances. The staff over there I felt were just going through the motions, I did not leave feeling close to any of them. Almost like we were foreigners they had to tolerate and put on fake smiles for, there was no warmth and they did play favorites. Another thing is that they exert a lot of control over you and assign curfews the whole time. I understand the importance of safety over there but they are over the top with thier rules. I still can't figure out how rooming in a 3 bedroom apartment, three meals a day, pick up and drop off 5 days a week to your NGO, and cultural activities they provide that cost barely any money to do adds up 3,700 dollars. I would completely reccomend working directly through an NGO while over there.

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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?

A little

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?

2012

December 17, 2012
6 people found this review helpful

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December 17, 2012
6 people found this review helpful

Beware of the nepotistic and selfish India program. I don't understand why an organization with such a fantastic premise could have strayed so far. While the staff pays lip service to how the volunteers become family, they couldn't care less about the volunteering work itself-- some volunteers spent less than 2 hours a day at their placements. Also, the placements were restricted to two options in the three months I was there. The organization has control problems: they feel the need to dictate how clients spend their weekends while traveling in India, how much time they spend volunteering (despite the school day ending at 3, the driver would only pick us up at 1, leaving the students without teachers for a significant part of the day), and clients' activity during the week. At the beginning they seem wonderful, helping you adjust to India, but their help soon reveals itself to be counterproductive and sometimes lies. They are disconnected from the real India you are coming to see, and they recommend horrible restaurants and tailors simply because they are family or friends' businesses-- even if the service is poor and shamelessly attempts to rip the foreigners off. The Hindi lessons promised are just basic phrasing unless you are doing the internship program. However, the 'teacher' is just one of the regular staff, a guy who, while well-meaning, is impatient and is just a regular Hindi speaker who doesn't have grasp of the grammar. The people learning mostly learned from books on their own. I was treated disrespectfully by several staff members, and was blown off when I brought up my concerns. Furthermore, the rudeness did not abate. A clique problem arose, but the staff turned a blind eye because of a special relationship with one of the clique members, and instead criticized the excluded volunteers (anyone not a 20 something girl, mostly older women.) I felt constantly disrespected and controlled, and was very relieved to be free of the program. They charge an exorbitant amount, and it's a mystery where the money goes in the supposed "non profit." It is very easy to contact NGOs in Delhi once you get there, and living there is easy for much cheaper in a similar gated community like CCS uses as an office-- or better yet, live like the middle class Indians and integrate into a community. Indians (other than CCS) are generous and friendly to foreigners, and the NGO I was involved in, called the Earth Saviours Foundation, embraced me like family in a way that I had hoped that CCS would have. I completely recommend traveling to Delhi independently and finding NGOs like TESF, that would happily help you find a place to live and with anything else you needed for free, as a genuine grass roots non profit charity, or even spending your money on any other organization. An alternative if you are looking to volunteer or have an internship is http://www.aiesec.org/; I met many of their volunteers at my NGO and they found the organization invaluable. I worked at www.savearth.in, which I would highly recommend as well (though I don't mean to advertise at all.)

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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?

Life-changing

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?

2012

December 4, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

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December 4, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

I volunteered in Salvador, Bahia Brazil in 2005 and I carry the experience with me always because of the warm and extroverted Bahian culture, the supportive and friendly staff, the variety of places to volunteer based on your specific interests/passions. It's a wonderful way to have everything set up for you to simply arrive, you don';t have to think about logistics which gives you time to learn tremendously about yourself and the interconnectedness of all things. Lots of opportunities for cultural experiences and language immersion and Bahia is an inspiring place. Ultimately, you take from the experience what you put in, but the program is solid.

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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2005

September 28, 2012
2 people found this review helpful

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September 28, 2012
2 people found this review helpful

CCS did a fantastic job. I didnt really know what to expect, but they made the entire process smooth and educational. It was great to have such a planned and comfortable schedule and accomodations. And I thought they did a great job matching volunteers to the activities/charities that best fit each person's skill set. It made my trip to Peru and really touched me.

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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?

2011

September 5, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

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September 5, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

My husband and I told our Granddaughter that we would take her on a trip for her 16th birthday. She chose a CCS trip to Karanga, Moshi, Tanzania. The 3 of us fell in love with TZ. We had perfect placements, we loved our cultural activities and our free time safaris. We loved visiting the Rolina orphanage and helping with construction of another orphanage. Our batik class was so much fun and Swahili lessons were helpful and sometimes frustrating to my older brain. The meals were excellent, our food restrictions were accommodated. The support staff in NY and the entire TZ staff were helpful, kind, patient and very knowledgeable. We found the Tanzanian people very open and friendly and had quite a few conversations with people we met while out walking. I'm quite sure we will do another trip - maybe back to TZ and maybe on to a new country.

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?

2012

August 29, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

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August 29, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

I have volunteered with Cross Cultural Solutions twice-both times in India! There's a reason why I chose CCS over other programs. Their commitment to quality and an authentic experience are unparalled. If you've never volunteered before they will help you every step of the way-if you're a seasoned traveller the country staff encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and experience new things. The country staff are what makes the program! They have their own lives and families, yet I always felt like their first priority. Everyone on staff was friendly and really listened to me. The placements are thoughtful and the staff went out of their way to make sure they fit our needs. The flats were clean and well stocked and of course the food provided every day was absolutely delicious! CCS is worth every penny-you won't regret it, it'll be the experience of a lifetime.

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?

2012

August 19, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

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August 19, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

I have volunteered with Cross-Cultural Solutions twice - the first was in Xela, Guatemala in 2008 and most recently I spent July 2012 in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. CCS is organized, they have great standing and great relationships in the community, and they take care of the volunteers who are living at home base. The food is awesome, the water is safe to drink, and the home base is kept very clean. The first two weeks are pretty intense - besides placement the afternoons are filled with cultural immersion type activities that you probably wouldn't be able to experience if you'd just gone to Bagamoyo on your own. I would do another trip with CCS in a heartbeat! I have been blogging in more detail over at http://girlandherbackpack.com/, and I've put some more info / pictures up at https://www.facebook.com/girlandherbackpack. It's still a work in progress since I've been blogging my daily journal entries, but if you're interested in going or wondering what "daily life" is like this would be a good resource so you'd know what to expect.

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?

2012

August 18, 2012

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August 18, 2012

As a three-time volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I've been shocked by how different, yet how similar each of my experiences has been. On one hand, each region adds a unique flavor found nowhere else, but on the other hand, CCS has a way of executing its mission in a way that gets you in the best position to make a positive, evident impact in the community, every time. That unforgettable feeling of contribution is something that never changed across my three experiences.

In my most recent trip to Brazil in July 2012, I worked primarily with Missionaries for Charity, a daycare located on the outside of Salvador, Brazil's third-largest city. Nuns who have devoted their lives to this organization run the center and care for the ~30 children here every day, completing a considerable amount of work in the process. These nuns are some of the most inspiring people I've ever met, and getting to know them over the course of my volunteering was one of the highlights of what I got from the program. I was happy to contribute by organizing games and arts/crafts for the children, finishing projects around the center, and preparing food and feeding lunch to a group of 30–40 more underprivileged children from the community at lunch time. Many of the kids were quite young, between 3–4, and required a lot of attention and care, so we also cleaned and helped put them to a nap in the late morning after our activities. The older kids who came for lunch loved having us there, and we had such a great time. I'll never forget the time we spent playing soccer and doing Capoeira, Brazil's famous form of martial arts, with the kids during the week.

The home site couldn't have been better. The staff was knowledgeable and friendly. The lodging was more than adequate, and the food was spectacular. Further, I can't imagine a group of fellow volunteers who melded together better, yet who came from so many different backgrounds and personalities. We did everything together, from the 14-year-old high school Freshman and his family to 50+ working professionals, and everyone in between.

I love CCS's vision: "a world in which people value cultures different from their own, are aware of global issues, and are empowered to effect positive change." I also identify strongly with all of its objectives in the volunteer experience: 1) directly impacting communities through volunteer work, 2) fostering cultural exchange and understanding and breakdown of stereotypes (two-way, both locals and volunteers), and 3) to spread knowledge of this experience (through reflection and sharing after volunteering). All three of these aspects are so important to my experiences to date. In the end, you feel so fortunate to make a positive change in the community, but the impact it makes on you ends up moving you even more.

I'm proud to be a three-time volunteer and future four-time volunteer!

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?

2012

August 8, 2012

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August 8, 2012

This was my first international experience and it was nothing short of perfect! My placement was in my professional field and I enjoyed going to work everyday and had many meaningful interactions. I was there for only a week but I feel like the program was packed full of volunteer, and cultural experiences. There were trips almost everyday after work that allowed me to see beautiful sites and meet local people.
The staff members were truly helpful, informative, passionate, and caring. I appreciated feeling like I was able to talk to them about any concerns, and I felt no pressure to do anything that I may not have wanted to do. We were provided with fantastic meals, and accommodations that were basic, but comfortable. They were a much needed support system and made Ghana feel like a home away from home.
Overall wonderful experience that I would recommend to anyone. It was worth more than the cost! A volunteer experience that felt like I received more than I gave : )

- Zee

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?

2012

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