THEY ARE NOT A NON PROFIT I have used them three times in the past. I had issues with accounting department(not the only one I am afraid) and a few with reps they are young and have high turnover. I have always had wonderful time when in country. With accoubting descrepencies I decided to stop using them and went with different organization. This year i got an email about working with refugees in Greece. I decided to give them a try again. Found out once in greece they are no longer a non profit eventhough states it on their website. The change happened in october 2016. Only found out because someone in group was complaining they were found raising and asked for tax id for 503 status. I did not found raise this time due to them miscalculating donations in the past with me. They increase charge for volunteer trip once they saw demand. Also working with disorganize ngo at camps but continue because was how they got into camps. I and another volunteer who also is a special education voiced our concern for saftey of children because of how unsafe and philosophy promoting negative behavior. I did get hurt. The staff at ccs was great in coming with me for xrays and mri butin all honesty it could of been prevented and i wonder if them now being a for profit ngo had something to do with it.
I volunteered two weeks this year in Rabat, Morocco. It was an incrediable and amzing journey. This was my second time volunteering through CCS and it made me realize all the reasons why I chose them. You are together with all the volunteers in one house(great for making new friends, and having someone to go out with at night and to travel on weekends with. Eight of us went to the Sahara Dessert together. It was unbelievable. Food and dafe water is provided for as is transportation to volunteer sites and unlike all others you see your country contact every weekday, Mohamed was there if we had any problem and quickly helped resolved any concern. I never felt more safe or comfortable. He and the rest of the staff tried to make us feel at home while sharing their culture with us. We had cooking lessons, language and cultural. We felt at ease to be able to ask anything, Morocco was beautiful my only regret is that I did not stay longer so I could of seen more of that beautiful country. Volunteering at the hospital working with children was so rewarding. I highly recommend this program and this location.
I just finished volunteering for CCS, for 3 weeks, in Morocco. The program was so amazing and I highly recommend this organization. I am going into my senior year of college and wanted to travel this summer, while also making an impact and learning about a new culture. CCS provided an insight into the culture of Morocco with their Arabic lesson, Islam lesson, cooking classes, and tours around Rabat. I loved my placements for volunteering - a children's hospital and an orphanage - but also felt that there was plenty of free time for exploring and traveling ourselves. The program director was amazing; he answered all my questions about Morocco and helped me with planning weekend trips, all while making me feel right at home!
I was definitely nervous about traveling alone for the first time, but my time in Morocco is a trip I will cherish for my lifetime!
1. Pre planning consultant was good and always offered assistance on time.
2. At the time of getting close to date of trip, it was not very clear my work assignment. I had to insist to get a meeting over the phone in order to get a brief about it. It would be better to assign the tasks at glance, a list 2 weeks before the trip so anybody can prepare. And exchange expectations and questions. Because experienced volunteers would like to use at list every weekday to use our professional skills.
3. It would be very helpful, to update or train the local coordinator, about how these days in America we are volunteering. Some people might travel just to spend time, but some other like me, we invest our time and money in order to be very productive during the trip of volunteering and comeback home fulfilled.
4. About the condition of the home-base: Since Delhi is a city with high pollution, so is not a city to walk or spend time in a park, or streets, it would be helpful, to have the apartment (home-base) with some windows so daylight can be seen inside. This means when is early in the morning you can meditate or after a day of work you can relax with a book or writing your journal.
5. The office of the local staff should be separate from the room or home-base. This gives a bit of privacy on hours or days that there is no work to do. Specially if a woman is the only volunteer and the rest of the local staff are just "man".
6. Special thanks to: preparation and assistance provided from "vicky" was very remarkable. (The local personal from CCS Delhi). He was going with me everyday to the schools were I was doing "Dental screenings", he also taught me very useful words in Hindu, show me the cultural aspects of the city. and very interesting temples.
Although I was the only person during my week of volunteering in Delhi, I was able to meet my expectations 100%, about applying my professional skills as a dentist and experienced volunteer.
I volunteered with Cross Cultural Solutions in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in June of 2015 and completely fell in love. This program absolutely exceeded my expectations and the in country director and staff is amazing. I truly feel like I now have a family in Tanzania. I felt that it was a well balanced program with volunteering and cultural activities. The guest speakers really gave me a deeper insight into the culture. I think the program fee was completely worth the experience I gained and I could never have gained this experience just as a tourist on my own. The food was exceptional and I felt totally taken care of throughout the entire program. This is a great organization and they were very organized through the entire process of my volunteer experience from start to finish. Even when I returned a really friendly women reached out to me to stay in touch!
I highly recommend this organization.
I just finished up with a cross cultural assignment in Guatemala. It was spectactular. The cross cultural team at the home base (Guatemala City) were so incredible and it was because of them that made my volunteer experience so meaningful. As in the last review, they ensured the safety of each volunteer, fed us the most amazing meals and took care of us as if we were their own family.
My assignment was working in a pediatric clinic and not only did I learn a little bit about how the health care system works in Guatemala but developed close relationships with the staff. The families were kind, grateful and so caring.
This being my first experience as a volunteer really motivated me to be more involved with local volunteering, but I am also looking into my next Cross Cultural volunteer trip since it was such an impactful experience.
If you are considering a volunteer program, cross cultural is the one to do and Guatemala is beyong life changing! You won't be sorry to have participated in such a great program!
I recently volunteered in Guatemala. This was my first experience with cross-cultural solutions and I cannot imagined how other sites could match the amazing staff and the great cultural experienced here. The staff offered a level of protection, food preparation and care that you would expect from your family, hence it was hard to leave both staff and your fellow volunteers because they create a sense of family at the host home. The first day after work I realized that someone kept making my bed and I was shocked that they go as far as to ensure your bed is comfortable each night. The pride the staff takes in making sure you eat, get to know each other, and ensure you make your trips and work assignments is excellent. I would recommend that the if you go to Guatemala, spend time in the kitchen with the staff to learn Spanish. Also, the internet works a few hours throughout the evening although this was different for many Americans it taught us to spend time in conversation and deplug, so embrace it. My work assignment was at a school in zona three you really learn a lot about how to teach in Spanish as well as how to become accepting and loving of other to point of giving and receiving a tangible hug and besos despite the conditions of the child or environment. You also learn how to find joy in the midst of lack and how to become resourceful! This place if full of beauty and lessons that you may want to see and learn in this life time. Thank you Guatemala staff! Love- JenniJessica lol
I recently volunteered at the CCS Guatemala location for 2 weeks. The Country Director, Virginia, was AWESOME and helped make the experience worthwhile and truly enjoyable. The staff at the homebase was welcoming and very friendly. My placement site was with elderly women in a hospital/institution. I had such a wonderful time and have amazing memories that will last a lifetime! I would return to Guatemala in the future and I highly recommend CCS and the Guatemala location!
Very fun and a great learning experience. Staff was very kind and I enjoyed the volunteer experience.
Just returned from an amazing 5 week journey to Ghana. I can honestly say it was the best 5 weeks of my life. The local staff were kind, trustworthy, helpful, and made me feel safe 100% of the time. CCS could not have done a better job choosing their local staff. The home base felt like home and was always clean and surrounded by children. The food was absolutely delicious-shout out to Joe! Ghana is breathtaking and all of the cultural activities that we got to experience are something that I will hold with me forever. Makafui, the program director was a great leader and made my experience unforgettable as a whole. And Atsu was always very helpful and informative and our safety was always his top priority. Very thankful that I was able to do this. I HIGHLY recommend Cross Cultural Solutions.
I really didn't know what to expect when i signed u[ for 3 weeks in peru, but when i got there, from the minute i got there, it was a whole other world that made me realize what life was really about and made me realize what I've been missing out on. I wanted to stay longer and i honestly couldn't asked for a better group of people and children to volunteer with it felt like home and i absolutely loved it. the little children i volunteered with stole my heart and i know that a part of me will always be left behind with them and the other volunteers and peru because i have taken a whole lot of peru and the volunteers and the children with me. it was absolutely the best experience of my life. i plan on doing another country next year, maybe one where the language barrier won't be so bad? :p)
I had the incredible opportunity to spend 3 week in Hohoe, Ghana with CCS in their teen program. Needless to say, my experience was life changing. I tried to go into the trip with an open-mind and learn once I got there learn everything. And for me this was perfect, from the minute I landed in Ghana, I was learning. Everything was already planned out with group leaders. Being an 17 year old girl, I was not worried about anything but my mom on the other hand had every worry in the world. I can honestly say that I never once felt unsafe and having everything planned was more than perfect. I would pick up and leave today to go live in Ghana through the CCS program if I didnt have to finish high school and my mom would let me!
What a unique way to experience another country! I volunteered in Costa Rica for four weeks. I could not have asked for a more welcoming group of staff. Everything was always taken care of. The staff always answered any questions and always were willing to talk about what we were experiencing. This is the perfect balance of touring a country and making an impact through volunteer work. I was truly able to learn about the culture through the native staff, food, and living in the city. I highly recommend CCS to anyone!
I no longer want to travel as a tourist per se. Through its volunteer program CCS offers a combination of activities that allow you to interact with the people, gain a clearer understanding of daily life and at the same time allow for opportunities to experience cultural activities and local landmarks. Although my schedule does not allow time for it now, this trip has made me aware that in the future I would like to volunteer in my area. As a college student, many years ago, I thought of joining the Peace Corps. I realized this was my mini Peace Corps experience. I do hope to return to Guatemala and also participate in other CCS programs. The home base was truly a home away from home. The meals were delicious and the accommodations were good. The staff went out of their way to ensure that our needs were being met.
I can't express how much I loved my experience. I got on the plane to Guatemala not knowing what to expect. Honestly, it exceeded my expectations. I went for 3 weeks and not knowing any spanish it was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!! Money very well spent. Worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY! It is really an all inclusive program. God truly blessed me with the most amazing trip!
The people at my placement were absolutely amazing and, oh, don't get me started on the staff here in Guatemala. I worked in a pediatric clinic. It helped me realize this was the career path for me. Also, the staff were so friendly and extremely helpful, especially taking extra time to help us plan weekend trips or a night out on the town. Also, the food was superb. literally drooling thinking about it!
You should definitely consider Guatemala if you are thinking about volunteering with CCS. I made great friends who I hope to keep in touch with. The city itself was beautiful and had a lot of character. I was with a very very big group, about 24 people. Honestly, I am 23 and was one of the older people there. Some of the younger people did cause some drama. That was the only thing that took away from my experience. Please don't let this sway you to not volunteer with CCS. I felt like I had true family there aside from the drama. We all took a 10 hour red eye bus ride to Tikal and it was wonderful. We made some very interesting/lasting/fantastic memories. Some were adventurous, while others were just silly. One night, I stayed in with one of the girls I became close with and we just sat in the common area for a few hours goofing around with on another. Like, sending the ugliest faces through snap chat. I could write a huge dissertation if I had the time.
Where ever you go, your experience will be different from everyone! Just go with your mind and heart open to just take everything in. Don't let yourself get in the way of immersing yourself in the culture. STAY POSITIVE!!!! Be open with the people at your placement. Follow CCS rules. Most of all just enjoy the ride, be patient, and embrace everything with a smile :)
I am definitely considering going back to Guatemala with CCS. It was very hard to leave. But, I can see myself using CCS again for sure!!! :)
Praise God for programs like this!
I volunteered in Dharamshala, India for 2 weeks on a Global Health Project. It was a very different and pleasant experience as far as placement, staff, food, and cultural exposure was concerned. I went to 2 other Global Brigade trips before this but the experience which I gained through this organization was very unique. Not only because of the experience of working with children as opposed to adults or varied ages of patients but also because of the experience that I was able to get while examining those kids and spending time with them after the examination was done. The food is great and the staff is ever ready to help. I knew the local language so that helped me a lot in multiple ways however, the local staff is very cooperative so language barrier would not be an issue for the volunteers who do not speak the local language.
I worked as a high school volunteer in Lima, Peru. The staff were so helpful and knowledgeable, the other volunteers were so nice, and it was so great working with the kids.
I knew that volunteering abroad would be life changing but I think I underestimated the depths. Helping in the special needs orphanage, creating new relationships/experiences with the other volunteers, soaking in all of the beauty of the country, and ultimately falling so deep in love with the Moroccan people. I merely can’t find the words to describe it…but my life is forever changed. A million thanks to you Morocco…until we meet again, Insha’Allah
I just returned home from volunteering with the CCS teen program in Tecpan, Guatemala for one month. It was the greatest experience of my entire life! Not only was I able to connect with and love the children at the school, but I was able to take cultural excursions that allowed me to learn so much about the Mayan culture. I chose Guatemala as my destination because I knew nothing about its history beforehand, and I left feeling a strong connection with the country because I knew almost as much about it as I did about my own country. I would definitely pack my bags for another CCS trip!
CCS is the best volunteer program. It has a perfect mix of volunteering, cultural activities, and free time. The staff is wonderful and will help you plan any activities you want to do. The home base is beautiful and clean and always has a security guard working. The food they provide was great, too! It was a very valuable experience that I loved very much!!
I had an amazing time with CCS and it was definitely an experience I would recommend to others. I went to Cartage, Costa Rica and I had the best time getting to know the people there, their culture, and being able to impact the lives of many all at the same time. I met some people there that I will hopefully continue to be friends with. The feeling I got from helping so many people is beyond words and has to be experienced!
I have said many times that I was following a call in my heart, and by volunteering in Kilimanjaro all the pieces came together: The experience was rich and deep, humbling and difficult, and yet intensely personal and spiritual. In part, the choice of two weeks of work was good, not because [and in spite] that I found so much to do and to be done and left undone!, but because I fell for those African kids and for Africa in general, and detachment was hard enough for the time shared! Africa will receive anything you have to give with extreme gratitude and humility.
The staff at the home base was incredibly friendly and personable [and yet those seem to be traits of most Tanzanians]; certain tolerance and acceptance are necessary to share different resources and goals with colleagues, but generally speaking, I have spent one of the most intense times of my life.
I loved my volunteering experience with CCS. I was moved by the children I was working with on a day to day bases, and felt privileged to also take part in day to day excursions and hindi lessons with the staff. If you are someone who is looking to volunteer this is the perfect organization to go with
I LOVED my experience with Cross Cultural Solutions. It is well worth the money as every afternoon we had the opportunity to participate in cultural lessons and/or excursions. I felt very safe and comfortable. The staff took excellent care of the volunteers and were extremely helpful in practicing our Swahili.
On five different occasions I have travelled with CCS, 4 times to Rabat, Morocco and once to Moshi, Tanzania. I would give anything to go back to both. I had the most incredible experience in both locations, so much so that I ended up changing my career path and going back to school to become a teacher. I have been fortunate to return to the Rabat, Morocco Program several times. I absolutely love the staff there, they are so nurturing and supportive, and help you through the experiences you go through at your placements. I fell in love with the children at both the orphanage in Rabat and the school in Moshi. They taught me so much about life and put things into perspective with their resilience, positivity and beautiful smiles. I also made some wonderful friendships with the staff I worked with and still stay in touch. The CCS program is great as it takes care of all the logistics for you, for example all your delicious meals, your transport to and from the airport and to and from your volunteer placement. This really puts you at ease and allows you to focus on the work you're doing. I also loved all the cultural activities that CCS organized: traditional dancing, cooking, art (batik), music and amazing day trips. The way the schedule is made you also have lots of time to explore independently in the afternoons and on weekends. Some of my most memorable experiences were during this time; trekking through the Sahara Desert, visiting the ancient ruins, going on safari in the Serengeti, and visiting the island of Zanzibar. Even the accommodations are lovely and comfortable. I would highly recommend Cross-Cultural Solutions to anyone interested in volunteering abroad.
I just got back from an incredible two week CCS experience in Salvador, Brazil! The people, culture and volunteer assignment will always be a part of me. Furthermore, I continued to be impressed with the CCS program from start to finish. I am proud to be a CCS alumni and look forward to the next adventure!
This past summer I traveled to Thailand, on my third volunteer trip with CCS. This organization is filled with the most accommodating and genuine individuals, who are dedicated to your experience - both in and out of volunteer work. Through the program, I worked in a public elementary school in Bangkok, teaching English and visiting Wats (Temples) with the most marvelous children. Outside of volunteering, the in-country staff provided numerous cultural activities that vastly molded my experience in experiencing a new culture - touring lotus ponds, Muay Thai classes, cooking classes, visiting monuments and speaking with renowned Buddhist monks (my favorite). I would highly recommend this program!
My visit to Guatemala was more than wonderful. The people were kind, the experiences unique, and the food delicious. As a pre-med student, working in the National Hospital's pediatric unit was unique and memorable, especially speaking with both the children and their mothers. The mothers needed the help too, since they stay there day and night. The CCS staff are welcoming to volunteers, knowledgeable of Guatemala City, and fun to talk to. I highly recommend CCS Guatemala to those that want to practice Spanish as well.
June 2015 took me to Tanzania...a trip of a lifetime! The experience exceeded my expectations. When asked "did you have a good time?" my response is always..."If I could get on a plane right now and return to the same place...reunite with my new-found friends and family...I would do it in a heartbeat". Thank you CCS!!
This was my first time volunteering with CCS, and it was amazing! I was working with children from ages 1-3 in a local convent in Brazil for 2 weeks. I enjoyed every minute working with the sisters, children, and other CCS members! They did a great job of making me feel like I was apart of a family and always checking in with me about how I was doing. The organization allows for a lot of independence which I was really looking for. I also felt like I was very involved with the community so that's a plus. Overall, the entire experience was great and something that I will never forget.
I spent two weeks in Lima, Peru with CCS and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I loved the in country staff and made friends that I am still in touch with today. The community benefited a lot from our help and I think the children we worked with enjoyed our company. I would definitely do it again!
I can't say enough good things about ccs! I volunteered in Lima Peru this summer and although we were working in a range of areas I felt completely safe at all times. I didn't have to worry about food, transportation or where I was staying and if I had questions I could ask any of the staff there. Having all of these worries out of the way allowed me to put myself fully into the volunteer work and get the most out of this opportunity. I would strongly encourage anyone and everyone to travel and volunteer with ccs whether it be as a single person, a school, or a family and become part of the ccs family!
My time with CCS was unforgettable. I traveled to Lima, Peru where I worked at a facility with elderly men and disabled children. The in home and on site staff were exceptional and made us feel welcomed, safe, and loved. A perfect trip for those that may need a reminder of just how beautiful this world is and how lucky we are to be in it.
This was my first trip with CCS and the program far exceeded my expectations. I volunteered in Bangkok, Thailand, teaching English in an elementary school in a northern district of the city. The program had a good relationship with the school and the teachers that I worked with. The teachers and students were extremely welcoming and worked with me every step of the way to make sure I got the best volunteer experience possible.
The accommodations were also fantastic. The program house is in a clean and safe northern Bangkok suburb, which allowed the other volunteers and I to be immersed in the culture from day one. The staff provided excellent Thai food for each meal and helped us explore the city when we weren't volunteering. The program staff understands that the volunteers yearn to experience the culture while on the volunteer trip and they deliver!
Would recommend to anyone looking for an adventure!
This was my 2nd trip with CCS. Brazil 2 years ago and Costa Rica this June. During my solo trip to Brazil I decided that my teenage kids might benefit from the experience so I took my 16 year old daughter to CCS Costa Rica. Given that teenage girls aren't looking for ways to spend MORE time with Dad I wouldn't trade that special week with her for anything in the world. Memories that will be remembered for a lifetime... 3 things impact one's CCS experience : 1) the volunteer assignment 2) the home base and the CCS employees there and 3) fellow volunteers. CCS gets a 10 out of 10 in all three categories. I can't emphasize enough what a joy it was getting to know the local CCS employees. They were absolutely outstanding. Jose and crew - be proud of the great work that you do! I can't wait for my next CCS trip with my son!
I recently went to Costa Rica with a party from my college system and was assigned to an elementary school. As a professor, being an extra pair of hands in a school staffed by committed, welcoming teachers was a humbling and rewarding experience. They reminded me of how much we owe to those to whom we commit our youngest children. While the school lacked the resources we expect in US schools, the enthusiasm and dedication of the teachers was inspiring. The youngest children were already learning to read and write English - most impressive.
My CCS trip was in Costa Rica and I was placed in the HIV clinic. At first, I was a little worried about working there because everyone was telling me that it wasn't a safe place. Once I got there, I understood how incorrect everyone was about it. The people in the clinic were quite healthy individuals and they were so kind and curious about us volunteers. I felt like I made a positive impact on on the people I helped there, and they made a positive impact on me. The CCS staff was amazing, they were very welcoming, patient, kind, and fun to be around! They were always willing to help us out with any issues we had during our stay, and it was truly amazing getting to know each and every one of them. They all had amazing back-stories and they all made an impact on me. I am so glad I participated in this trip, because I will never forget the memories/friendships I made there. I would definitely recommend this program for anyone interested in making an impact in the world, having a lot of fun, and experiencing new cultures!
I volunteered at the Costa Rica site along with a group of co-workers from my consulting company. I had an absolutely incredible experience, and was surprised by how much we were able to do in just one short week. The CCS staff is very organized, and did a great job scoping our volunteer project and making sure that we were always working hard in the mornings. Our group volunteered a a local nursing home, and formed some great relationships with the residents while there. The cultural activities were great every evening, and I felt like I learned a lot about the local culture. I was able to practice my Spanish as well. Overall, the CCS staff and the experience was great!
I would definitely recommend this program for somebody looking for a fun, engaging, well-organized, and meaningful international volunteer experience.
WOW!!!... where does one begin..upon arrival you knew instantly you were in another place, maybe even in another time... for Costa Rica is truly paradise from the culture to the people everywhere we went, the people made you right at home. My assignment was the Pueblito Orphanage, on my first day I notice that the children's playground equipment was in horrible shape from swings hanging from one chain to the see saws with no seats for the children to sit on.. so I used my 5 days in repairing 6 swings, 4 see saws and put in 3 new tire swings as well. The most inspirational part was on Friday, when a little girl was swinging on the very tire swings I had just put up hours prior. That moment was what this trip was all about for me. Thank you CCS for giving me the opportunity to display my talents as a carpenter, and to bring smiles to children's faces for months to come...Also the Home base was great, Jose Hernandez and the rest of the CCS staff were very welcoming, inspirational and dedicated to their work. I will miss them all... Pura Vida!!!!
The week that I spent in Guatemala City this summer was by far the best week I've had in years. This program gives you the opportunity to do something good for yourself by using your time to help others, learn an incredible amount about something important, have a good time, meet other people with similar interests, and relax. Going to another country can be scary, you know the things you want to do or see but you might not be sure how to go about it. The CCS staff helps you do whatever it is you desire. You also have the chance to make a difference in the lives of others.
I have often said that if i could change anything about the trip I would have wanted to stay longer. I will continue to volunteer through CCS; they have exceeded my expectations.
I would recommend the Guatemala City location to anyone. The in-country staff there is fantastico!
Words can't describe the incredible journey that I had in Dharamsala, India. I knew that it would be life-changing, but I had no idea exactly how much it would be. It was the experience of a lifetime. The staff, fellow volunteers, locals, and everyone else I came in contact with were such amazing and inspiring people. If you're looking to have an awesome volunteer experience, look no further than CCS!
If offered full time employment at the orphanage I was assigned to volunteer at, and if not for the grandchildren I cherish at home, I’d still be in Guatemala. I’ve never been so profoundly moved and have never gathered as much knowledge in the short 7 days I spent with CCS. I learned about cultural differences, tradition, history, and politics, and most importantly I learned things about myself. The preconceptions I had about extreme poverty and the people that live in it led me to believe I had to be on guard at all times from fear of being robbed or cheated. Example; I’d watched a man sprint an entire city block just to return a shopping bag accidentally left at his store by one of my classmates. This was my "a-ha moment". All my life I’ve taken pride in my ability to instantly sum up any situation and a person’s character with a glance. I was wrong. I don’t have or have never had this ability and when I realized it my eyes were open to a world I never knew existed. I can’t wait to work with CCS again.
Thank you, Matt Biaso, Guatemala, 5/15
I spent 3 amazing weeks in Cartago, Costa Rica during May 2015. No words can truly describe how completely spectacular this experience was. The relationships I made in the short 3 weeks are now everlasting friendships. My assignment that I requested was at the HIV home, and I am so glad to have been placed there. Everyone was so grateful even if it was the smallest thing. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I've had to do, and I cried during each one. The in-country staff was so outstanding that I consider these people more of family than I consider staff. They make you feel so at home and are there for you no matter what you need. So compassionate, so caring, and such amazing individuals. Adjusting back to my life in the States has been a complete struggle, but that's only because this organization is so outstanding. I would go through CCS again and again for years to come.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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...... !! :)
I volunteered in Lima, Peru for 2 weeks. I met some amazing people and sharing a house with them was always eventful! It was a great experience, the food was delicious every meal and we were allowed the independence I expected to wander off on our own during free time to explore. I was at Inabif working with the children, (I definitely recommend the older kids) they were so appreciative and excited to learn from us, especially listen to our English. The language barrier was difficult but I managed fine with my high school experience! Kique, our house manager was awesome. I'm definitely looking into other locations for the future. Thanks!!
My husband and I just completed a 2 week volunteer assignment with CCS at San Rafael Adult Day Care and Nursing Home. What an incredible opportunity. Sandra and Lorena provide an amazing opportunity for the people coming to the center.
The CCS crew at the CCS Home Base were amazing. They provided us with help, activities, learning opportunities, etc. What an amazing, fun, caring staff. They made us feel so at home.
The adults that we got to work with at the Day Care were so appreciative as was the staff at the placement. It was so exciting to see their eyes light up every morning when we arrived. I will not forget these special people.
I plan to volunteer in Cartago again.
I would recommend this opportunity to everyone. It changed how I look at volunteering and being immersed in a different culture.
I WENT TO CAPE TOWN SOUTH AFRICA FOR 2 WEEKS IN AUGUST. THIS WAS MY FIRST EXPERIENCE OUT OF THE COUNTRY. AND LET ME SAY IT WAS ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. I'D DO IT AGAIN. EVERYONE WITHIN THE PROGRAM, FROM THE STAFF IN THE US TO THE STAFF IN COUNTRY. IT WAS AMAZING. THEY COMPLETELY MET ALL MY NEEDS. CCS IS NOT ONLY THERE TO HELP YOU VOLUNTEER, BUT TRULY GET TO KNOW THE COUNTRY YOUR VOLUNTEERING IN. THEY IMMERSE YOU IN THE CULTURE. THE LOVE I FELT FROM EACH AND EVERYONE OF THE STAFF MADE ME FEEL RIGHT AT HOME. THE OTHER VOLUNTEERS WERE THE BEST. IT WAS TRULY LIKE A FAMILY. I AM CURRENTLY TRYING TO BECOME AN AMBASSADOR FOR CCS. ALSO I AM PLANNING ANOTHER TRIP TO VOLUNTEER IN THAILAND!!
I volunteered in Lima, Peru for three weeks and I have to say it was the best three weeks Ive ever experienced. The signing up through CCS was sketchy at first, BUT my coordinator kept me updated with all of my paperwork and payments. This program is perfect for a first time traveler. I 100% reccommend this to anyone who wants a great volunteer experience and a taste of a new country. CCS is worth every penny and the memories will last a lifetime.
I volunteered in Costa Rica with Cross Cultural Solutions and it changed my life. When I signed up, I was nervous because I had never gone on a service trip before, or had been to Central America. I signed up not knowing really what to expect but when I got there, it immediately felt like home. Cartago was so amazing and the people were so friendly, especially the CCS crew! I will never forget my volunteer placement. The children that I got to work with will forever hold a place in my heart. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I never expected it would have such an affect on me. I would recommend volunteering in Cartago with CCS to ANYONE! It was incredible and I plan to go back someday.
I just returned from 3 weeks in Lima Peru. My trip was incredible and so rewarding. The CCS Lima staff was amazing and they all took such good care of me. I volunteered in a daycare program for underprivileged children called INIBIF and I could not have asked for a better placement. I also spent a day at Los Martincitos, a similar program for the elderly, and It was a wonderful experience as well. The people in Peru are so welcoming and thankful and all of the placements desperately need more volunteers. I would recommend CCS Lima to anybody and they really need your help! I hope to go back soon!