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Review for Cross-Cultural Solutions, New Rochelle, NY, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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!

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Role:  Volunteer