Cross-Cultural Solutions

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9 / 10 after 141 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

As an international volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions, you're making a meaningful contribution, working side-by-side with local people and sharing in the goals of a community that warmly welcomes you. You're experiencing another culture like never before and really getting to know its people. You'll gain new perspectives and insight into the culture and yourself. It's an exciting and personally inspiring experience, and you'll develop memories that will be with you forever.

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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.

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Location:
Posted: June 27, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
19

My review is specific to CCS Ghana, which I feel is a waste of money and designed for those who just want to have fun in Africa with minimal volunteering while still calling it a "volunteer" trip. I spent a combined 3 weeks in Ghana with CCS and 9 months in Ghana without any organization. I probably spent less money in those 9 months total than I spent on the 3 weeks with CCS, while having a much better trip.

CCS has its good points and could be a good introduction to Africa for those a bit hesitant (like I was) or unwilling to forego certain amenities. You will always have running water, a power generator, huge fans for the heat, westernized meals served to you, and a nice razor wire fence around the compound. All of this sounded great to me at the time, but in retrospect it robbed me of any true insight into the Ghanaian lifestyle.

Volunteer placements are usually nice (the majority being schools and orphanages) and volunteers have a lot of fun with the kids, but beware that you will probably not come away with any deep sense of fulfillment if you are looking to feel like you really made a difference. Volunteers are only at their placement for about 3 hours, while the rest of the day is dedicated to fun (outings, visiting town, hanging out at the homebase). Obviously the fun times are great, just be aware that the actual volunteering will seem like a minimal part of the trip. This trip caters to those who favor saying they have done volunteer work over actually doing the work itself.

CCS prides itself on cultural immersion activities. The activities are great - the highest waterfall in West Africa, a monkey sanctuary, a visit to the market, etc - but these are all easy activities to do without CCS. I visited all of the same places during my own visit to Ghana, and found all of them much more enjoyable to do with my real Ghanaian friends (rather than people I was randomly put into a house with), on my own time and in my own way.

Lastly, I unfortunately have to comment on the staff who will act warm and welcoming, but are in fact very petty towards volunteers and each other. Volunteers will not realize that the staff often talks poorly about them right in front of them in Ewe (the native language), or the amount of drama within the staff behind the scenes (dating each other against their own policy, giving silent treatments, threatening "juju" [witchcraft] against each other, etc).

I had previously heard rumors that the staff at CCS Ghana does not like volunteers to return to Ghana without CCS, and this was sadly proven true to me. Some staff members expressed excitement at my return and then never spoke to me while I was there, despite my attempt, specifically because I did not bring gifts to them (I was told that laptops, cameras, ipods are acceptable gifts, but unfortunately a 9-month leave from work does not afford me this possibility).

Lastly, while on the subject of the staff and homebase, I cannot stress enough that this living situation is structured specifically to those who are of an outgoing talkative personality. If this is you, great - this is not a negative observation, as most volunteers seem to fit this profile and staff prefers volunteers to fit this profile. I, however, am the very quiet type who prefers to take in my cultural surroundings without necessarily commenting out loud on each and every thing and also liked to spend most of my time at the homebase either preparing something for my few hours at my volunteer placement the next day or keeping a journal of my trip. I am a friendly person and always stayed with the group, but the staff made me feel excessively awkward and alienated because of my shyness, and even spoke poorly of me after I left (for example: remarking that I return to my serious face quickly after laughing at something. Excruciatingly petty). This may seem trivial, but it warrants mentioning because it ended up being a negative factor in both my trip and impression of the staff in retrospect. Introverts beware!

In conclusion, CCS Ghana is not an all bad experience, but there are unlimited ways to get a greater (and more realistic) experience of Ghana for a lot less money. Moving there by one's self like I did is not feasible for most people, but there are many many many organizations available. My best suggestion is simply to spend enough time researching to find a more basic volunteer program at a reasonable price (and that offers more time dedicated to the volunteer work if that is one of your primary objectives), and plan cultural excursions according to your own schedule and budget. Ghana promotes tourism so everything you need can be found online. CCS seems like a great package deal at first glance, but I guarantee that your visit to Ghana will be a thousand times more beautiful, realistic, exploratory, and fulfilling without CCS.

Please, I am not requesting or interested in a response from any CCS reps.

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Location:
Posted: June 26, 2014
Overall:
3
Support:
1
Value:
2
Age:
31

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.

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Location:
Posted: June 24, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: OliviaB
Age:

I recently spent two weeks volunteering in Bagamoyo Tanzania. All in all, it was an amazing experience. I have volunteered abroad twice before, and this trip far exceeded my expectations. The staff at the home base is amazing. They are kind, funny, gracious and always willing to help us with whatever needs we may have had. The home base itself was great, also. The house was clean, accommodating and the chefs there prepared excellent food. In regards to service, at my placement, I worked from 7:30 to 12:30, so 5 hours. Other volunteers in my group worked for less time. If I were to change anything about the trip, I would increase the amount of time spent doing service. We had a fair amount of free time each day, and I would have rather spent that time at my service placement.

I would recommend this trip and organization. It is well organized and a very enriching experience.

Program:
Location:
Posted: June 21, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
By: devhansen
Age:
17

I LOVED my experience with CCS Peru. The in-country staff was fantastic - supportive, informative, and they became my family in Lima. I can't imagine anyone better than Kique, the Country Director, leading this program -- he was energetic, knowledgeable, and an incredible personality to introduce me to Peru.

I volunteered in a center for the elderly, which ended up being such an incredible experience. There was so much to do every day -- I can't even describe how meaningful my experiences were in working with the older men, women, and staff there. I will never forget the moments we created together, and I was able to see first-hand the support we gave to these individuals. I helped out in the kitchen, led daily exercises, helped with a makeshift barber shop, and of course spent a lot of one-on-one time playing cards, talking, and so much more. Every day was full, and went by so quickly!

The rest of the program was equally fabulous. The activities were engaging and in-depth. My favorite was actually a presentation on the political systems of Peru, but there were so many excursions and lessons that I really felt immersed in Peruvian culture in just a few weeks.

Of course, I need to say something about the amazing food in Peru. I loved that the CCS cooks really provided an abundance of incredible dishes for every meal! When I wanted to learn to make something to take home, the cook was always helpful in giving me an inpromptu lesson - just another benefit of the staff in Lima!

Overall, Peru was fantastic. A memory I'll keep with me forever. I'd definitely encourage anyone considering international volunteering to go to Peru for an incredible time - and of course with CCS!

Program:
Location:
Posted: June 20, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: cet.807
Age:

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