Cross-Cultural Solutions - Volunteer Programs in India

By Cross-Cultural Solutions   Reviews (18)   87% Rating

Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) volunteer abroad programs have a few factors that make them unique:
1. Volunteers stay in a CCS Home-base where they enjoy 24-hour security, delicious and safely prepared meals, and the companionship of other CCS volunteers.
2. Our on-the-ground staff (usually around 5 vs. maybe 1 for other organizations) is always there to immerse you in the community, ensure that your volunteering is productive, and of course keeps you safe.
3. The numbers tell the story: 20 years. 35,000 volunteers. And a 99.7 satisfaction rate

When you volunteer in India, either in Dharamsala or New Delhi, you will be involved with local, progressive organizations supporting those in need by contributing to these CCS projects:
1. Education and Literacy Project
2. Child Development Project
3. Girls and Women's Empowerment Project
4. Support for People with Disabilities Project
5. Global Healthcare Project
In New Delhi there is also the: Aging with Dignity Project

View Program Information
  • IndiaDelhi
  • IndiaHimalaya
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
2-4 weeks
1-3 months
See site for details.
Cost Description: 

* Personalized Volunteer Placement: with our Partner Programs based on your skills and interests, including all the coordination, in-person visits and communication necessary with each local organization.
*Planned Cultural Activities with excursions, special events, and discussions with a variety of local cultural, professional, governmental and community agencies and people.
* Cross-Cultural Solutions' Home-Base, providing you with a comfortable, safe place to live, the basic amenities, all of your meals, and transportation to and from all Cross-Cultural Solutions' placements and programs.
* An experienced Program Manager, who will serve as your coordinator, guide, and liaison with our in-country staff.
* In-country basic language assistance.
* Professional, locally-based staff to provide orientation, supervision and guidance throughout your stay.
* In-depth pre-departure packs, orientation information, and all in-country informational materials.
* Country-based airport transportation.
* Local phone calls and In-coming international phone service.
* A toll-free 24-hour emergency hotline in the U.S.

Volunteer House
Participants travel to the program independently (not in a group with other participants).
Some travel is required during the program.
Online Application
Health Requirement

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Program Reviews (18)

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  • Emma
    Age: 25-30
    San Diego, California
    Aurora University
    CCS Delhi is absolutely life changing

    CCS Delhi focuses on complete cultural immersion. Outside of our volunteer assignments we had Hindi lessons, visited various places of religious worship and explored different parts on India on the weekend. From beginning to end it was a huge learning opportunity. We shared meals together like a family and had a chance to try dishes representing every part of India. My volunteer assignment was to collaborate and assist a teacher through the NGO Vidya Munirka. I had the opportunity to work hands-on with the students in my class as we learned and reviewed letters in English and Hindi, practiced numbers and understanding number values and learning shapes. We would follow up each lesson with a worksheet which allowed the children a chance to re-enforce the material! Outside of my volunteer assignment I spent weekends exploring Jaipur, Agra, Rishikesh and Hardiwar. During the week the staff would give us advice about places we should go and things we should do for our weekend trips. It was extremely helpful! Also, CCS has planned activities during the week! Some of my favorites were: visiting a Sikh Temple, visiting a Hindu temple, Hindi lessons, attending a classical dance performance, going to see a movie in theaters. Also while I was there I had a chance to attend Sufi singing, learned how to bargain and became completely comfortable navigating our surrounding community in Delhi!

    How could this program be improved?

    Be sure to exchange your money once you get to India because you will get a better exchange rate. Also you can buy a lot of products in India so you don't need to pack everything unless you use very specific items.

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  • Miffa
    Age: 25-30
    San Diego
    University of Montana- Missoula
    Incredible India

    My favorite part of the trip was a toss up between meeting and getting to know a Buddhist monk living in Dharamsala to escape the unjust in Tibet and watching the student I had been working with all summer sing the Beatles "Yellow Submarine" to their families during the end of the semester program. India is an amazing land and culture and the experience facilitated by CCS allowed you to immerse yourself in India to the fullest.

    How could this program be improved?

    Better pricing

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  • Margaret
    Age: 51 or older
    New York
    Temple University
    Project India Cross-Cultural Solutions

    This was a dream come true. CCS offered a safe way to enter the world, the world of India. It is another world. I was my life-long dream and happened in India in 1997.

    This was the land of my dreams from age six to fifty when I went.
    I will never forget the opportunity to be immersed in the culture. I felt useful and learned daily from the experience.

    The Cross-Cultural Solutions staff mage everything possible, if you were open to the experience to a new culture.

    I am forever changed and empowered by this experience.

    I have worked daily to change the world since my first CCS experience.

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  • Arielle
    Age: 19-24
    Philadelphia, PA
    Wonderful Teen Program

    I did the Dharamsala Teen Program last summer and loved it so much, I can't wait to go back! We volunteered in a day care center, where we taught the kids (age 9 months - 7 years old) basic English phrases, numbers, and letters. The kids loved singing as much as possible, so we played games like Hokey Pokey and Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. The program was very very safe, and Dharamsala is absolutely breathtaking. We took day trips around the town and went up to where the Dalai Lama lives. Homebase was lovely, the staff was very accomodating, and the food was incredible. I can't wait to go back as an adult volunteer!!

    How could this program be improved?

    I wish that the teen program involved more travel - I would have loved to see other parts of India i.e. the Taj Mahal.

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  • Kirsten
    Age: 25-30
    Dallas, Texas
    Louisiana State University- Baton Rouge
    Changed My Life

    I signed up for the Cross-Cultural Solutions experience in India mainly because I wanted to take an international trip and I felt this was the safest environment in which I could travel solo. What I didn't realize is what an amazing effect this trip would have on my entire outlook on life and the world. I made long-term friends in the staff, the locals, and my fellow volunteers. I learned so much about the Indian culture and now feel a kinship toward Indian people back home in the States.

    I returned to the United States with a passion for meaningful work. I immediately considered quitting my job to pursue a career in teaching after having such positive experience teaching English to teenagers in New Delhi. Although I have not yet executed this change, and may not ever become a teacher by trade, one thing for certain is that I have developed a passion to support the mission of Cross-Cultural Solutions. I have begun volunteering locally in the name of CCS and will continue to do what I can to support this organization, including traveling with them again in the future.

    I had a blast, got to see so much of New Delhi and surrounding areas, and never once felt unsafe. Quite the opposite--I felt very comfortable thanks to the staff. They were warm and welcoming and did everything they could to make sure we were having a fulfilling experience in all aspects.

    How could this program be improved?

    Literally, the only issue I encountered was a slight miscommunication between the CCS staff and the local NGO with which I was working regarding schedules. There were a few days that I arrived at the NGO ready to volunteer with the kids and no kids were present. The NGO had scheduled their own staff meetings on those days. We had trouble getting the timing right on the days I was needed. I did express this concern to the CCS staff, and they promised to get that kink worked out.

    In the end, I did feel that I was able to spend a significant amount of time interacting with the local teens, however, and felt like we had a mutual positive impact.

    Volunteering with Magic Bus India, the local NGO partnered with CCS. I taught English and Interview Skills to teenagers.
    Visiting the Taj Mahal with fellow volunteers on my free time!
    Our room at the Home Base--an apartment flat in an upper middle class neighborhood in New Delhi. The accommodations were clean, comfortable, and very "homey!" I loved our home base.
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  • R.
    Age: 25-30
    University of Michigan
    Graduate Study Abroad Experience

    I had the opportunity to volunteer abroad with CCS as part of my graduate studies. My interest was in women and children within the culture and I volunteered my time at a local school where I taught English. Having had a background in teaching, this was helpful but I can only imagine the stress of a volunteer who has never taught before might have.

    In order to 'teach' English, we were given a key to a supply room in our apartment that had various games, workbooks, activities etc which could be copied by CCS staff. At times, I felt overwhelmed with the large task of teaching English to 2-5 year old children in only two weeks (I stayed three weeks but we were only introduced to our site within the first week) and truly did not feel like an impact was made.

    At times, I did not feel safe within the community and wish that CCS would have provided more social events for its volunteers within India in addition to the cultural and 'touristy' events although oddly enough certain events like going to the Taj Mahal had to be arranged on our own.

    We arrived during the week of India's Independence Day yet oddly there were no event scheduled for us to attend except an invite to the Director's home with her family yet we had just met her and many of us did not feel comfortable attending. There was a lot of down time which included watching English shows on the TV or going to their movie library and watching English movies.

    Overall, I was not satisfied with my experience in Delhi but would recommend using CCS given reviews I have heard from friends regarding the organization (they went to other countries through CCS)

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  • Lori
    Age: 51 or older
    Berlin, Wisconsin
    University of Wisconsin- Madison
    Amazing Experience in India

    CCS is the best way to experience India. I learned so much about the people, religions, customs, food and everyday living. Helping the young women learn computer skills and conversational English was rewarding. I continue to connect with one of the ladies via facebook. The staff was very supportive and offered great suggestions to enhance our experience. All of the people who volunteered during the time I was there were great to share this experience with.

    How could this program be improved?

    I wish more women would have come to the Women's Learning Center each day.

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  • Bassgirl
    Age: 31-50
    North California
    Not at all the volunteer experience I was hoping for

    The program in Delhi, India is not run well and because maybe they have all been doing it so long lacks concern for your experience in a whole. They put in the bare minimum of effort to make you feel welcome and they enforce drinking and curfew rules for all ages which are ridiculous. What is the most upsetting thing is that I was told before I agreed to work with CCS and pay the exorbitant amount of money that I was going to have a full volunteer schedule, a minimum of 4 hours a day. I was lucky if I volunteered two hours a day. Then after volunteering there was so much downtime and it was hard to plan things around the mandatory meal times that there was a lot of just sitting around reading or watching movies in the apartment until dinner. That is not my idea of experiencing India and being immersed into the culture. I wanted to be amongst the people while learning of their culture and it would have been nice if one of the staff had a job to help us experience that. But instead when we did have cultural activities it usually involved dropping us off at a tourist attraction with a description and history on sheet of paper or bringing in people to discuss India in the comfort of our apartment. We were way too sheltered and it felt like a waste of an opportunity to experience India.

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  • swine09
    Age: 19-24
    Washington University in Saint Louis
    Nepotistic Apathy- what volunteering?

    I could not be more disappointed with my experience, and I cannot believe the positive reviews. At least in Delhi, the organization is corrupted by nepotism and apathy toward volunteering. I came to India to volunteer, but often the three NGOs CCS chose from (yes, there were only three-- two now, since they cut ties with one that refused to be controlled by CCS' tyranny) left volunteers sometimes under two hours a day to work. A volunteer while I was there was not allowed to volunteer one day when the NGO was doing a project at a different location than usual. There are also arbitrary rules, like a curfew and enforced meals. You must eat with the rest of the group, despite being provided a kitchen in which to cook. I was treated rudely by the staff: the head of India continually made inappropriate comments about my appearance and weight. The staff again and again referred the volunteers to relatives and friends, which wouldn't be so bad except the businesses were the worst we encountered in India. I think that most volunteers don't see the corruption because they don't stay the full three months that I did. Many volunteers with me had problems with CCS as well. An adult woman was kicked out for breaking the fake curfew (they lied and said the gates closed at 10 on weekdays and 1 on weekends-- we lived in a very safe affluent area and staying out beyond then put no one in danger.) 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. The placements were made without regard for personal preference whatsoever. A woman who was a nurse and wrote specifically that she did not want to do medical work was expected to do so. No one I talked to was placed in an NGO with a focus they had requested, probably because CCS did not take advantage of the many NGOs in Delhi. It only had relationships with organizations that it could bully-- for example, agreeing to refuse to let kicked out volunteers stay at the NGO, even if they were kicked out for reasons completely unrelated to their volunteering work (a 23 year old having a glass of wine at dinner, a 34 year old returning to the flat at midnight, etc.) CCS, instead of integrating you into the community, cloistered you. You cannot interact with the staff and volunteers at the NGO as much because you are forced to have limited hours and meals at the office (the "chef" is actually just a regular guy who makes cheap, repetitive meals over and over.) You live in a sheltered gated community without just that- a sense of community. I lived in Delhi after leaving CCS and the community I lived in was welcoming and wonderful to me, so much more so than CCS was. If you want a real Indian experience, and want to travel to really make a difference and volunteer, avoid CCS at all costs. The organization, at least in Delhi, is an overpriced scam whose main focus is liability and cost effectiveness.

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  • Kaitlyn
    Age: 19-24
    New Jersey
    Roanoke College
    Cross Cultural Solutions

    What an incredible, life-changing experience. I would go back in a heart beat! The staff are friendly and supportive and the experience volunteering abroad gives you a more holistic view of the world. Definitely go for it!

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  • Andrea
    Age: 25-30
    You won't regret it!

    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.

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  • Doris
    Age: 25-30
    Baltimore, Md
    Rickshaws and HOLY COW!

    When you arrive in India it's a blur of colors, sounds, and smells. I arrived with a CCS group to New Delhi in the middle of summer and was surprised by how thick the heat was! We were taken out to shop for our very first salwar kameez and dupattas the first night and I laughed out loud as my rickshaw driver sang loudly to his favorite Bhangra song.

    I had so many experiences in my short summer in New Delhi that it's hard to pick one or two to share. CCS placed me at a school called Akshay of the first integrated schools in the area, teaching both able-bodied and disabled students in the same classrooms. As a piano and dance teacher I was quickly put to work developing my own arts curriculum, and we ended the summer with a full school performance on their outdoor stage attended by the President of the school and many families from the area. I also had the opportunity to work as a guest at the Mother Theresa house in Newl Delhi which was a real touch with the harsh reality of poverty for me. Young babies without parents and the elderly without family to care for them. The grandmas loved me to paint their nails that';s for sure!

    In short, CCS provides for the most unbelievable volunteer experience one could imagine, and a house that's run like a family with great meals and people that care about whether you're sick, or nervous, or upset. If you're thinking about going to volunteer, go CCS!!

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  • Isabel
    Age: 19-24
    Chicago, IL
    Very well-run program

    When I participated in the CCS India program, I had never traveled outside of North America before. Since then, I've been back to India twice, and I am hoping to work in a field that will allow me to spend more time there in the future. I am incredibly thankful to CCS for making my first trip to India such a rewarding experience. CCS was an excellent, supportive program and a great introduction to India. My volunteer placement enabled me to learn a lot more about my field of interest (public health), and the staff were receptive to the projects I proposed. There were also a number of local trips/cultural activities in the afternoons, and I learned the Hindi alphabet (as well as a number of useful Hindi phrases) from the staff members. India can be a difficult country for Westerners to adjust to, but the CCS India staff are all wonderful people who are there to help you every step of the way.

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  • Jessica
    Age: 19-24
    Emerson College
    Amazing experience with CCS in India

    I enjoyed every single part of my trip with CCS to India. It was a unique experience, and I have to say it was definitely worth it. I not only made an impact on the children I worked with, but I also made friends, learned about a different culture and visited unbelievable places.

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  • Kristy
    Age: 31-50
    Palo Alto, CA
    Supportive, safe way to quickly get to know the country from the inside

    I had three places on my bucket list, in order: India, China, Africa. I had traveled a lot in my life, lived abroad in Europe for school, and been to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan for business. Yet India seemed another planet, and I did not feel I could go alone. I had just a few weeks to give, but I wanted to quickly delve deep and understand the country. A volunteer vacation seemed the perfect choice.

    After much research, I settled on Cross Cultural Solutions. I'm so glad I did. CCS provides as much or as little support as you need. The key difference is the "cultural" part. CCS places major emphasis on having face-to-face interaction with locals, so all the volunteer jobs are putting you in those situations, rather than working side by side with other volunteers only. I loved it. Also, CCS is highly sensitive to the local community, so healthy rules prevent us from upsetting the local economic ecosystems - for example, we're not allowed to give gifts or money to those we help, for many good reasons. Other organizations aren't always so farsighted and responsible.

    They pick you up at the airport and provide local housing, commensurate with how the locals live. They have a cook that provides all meals that are good, safe, and also localized. And the staff goes out of its way to be helpful. They provide cultural training, like language lessons, teaching cricket, cooking classes, and there are field trips, all to give you a deep understanding of the local culture. And we're encouraged and supported to go out exploring on our own.

    In Dharamsala, my job was teaching English to elementary school kids in a remote hilltop school - the school had no electricity or plumbing, just cement floors, wall and ceiling. No desks, kids sat on the floor. And they didn't speak ANY English. I was thrown in with them, and I had no experience teaching. But, it was a fabulous experience! Talk about getting to know the country quickly, as a local, not a tourist. In the evenings, there was time to roam up to Mcloud Gange, where the Tibetan community has its center in exile.

    What's one thing I wish I'd known before going? Luckily, I heard this from other volunteers before going on my first CCS volunteer trip to India - you are somewhat left to your own devices in your volunteer gig. So you have to do your own preparation. CCS works hard to secure volunteer spots, but they may change at the last minute. The staff can't be up to speed on all the jobs and train you much, so as the other volunteers attest, you do your best based on your own skills and wits that you bring. It's fine. In India, my job was teaching kids, and I had never done that before. I don't think I was very good, but the kids and teacher seemed to love my efforts and I learned so much. In China, where I went a year later, teaching the teachers was simple - they just wanted conversation, so the prep materials I'd brought weren't needed. Talk to previous volunteers before you go. CCS will connect you with them.

    I plan to go to Tanzania or South Africa with CCS soon. This is really an outstanding program. I can't say enough about it.

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About the provider

The Cross-Cultural Solutions Volunteer Abroad experience allows students and travelers to gain valuable experience overseas while working side by side with local individuals and communities to make an impact.

Since 1995, over 35,000 people have volunteered with Cross-Cultural Solutions, providing meaningful and sustainable volunteer services to international communities, and contributing responsibly to local economies.

Volunteers gain valuable experience working in areas such as education, healthcare, and social services. Visit the Cross-Cultural Solutions website to learn more about how we're changing everything.

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