Cross-Cultural Solutions

Cross-Cultural Solutions

About

For 24 years, CCS has been the standard-setter for safe, meaningful, and enriching global service-learning and community engagement programs while striving to be a leader in child development and women's empowerment.

Since 1995, over 36,000 people have traveled with Cross-Cultural Solutions, engaging in meaningful and sustainable community engagement programs and contributing responsibly to local economies.

Travelers 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.

Founded
1995
Headquarters

One Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02139-1562
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Aubrey
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cross Cultural Solutions allowed for me to experience more than just a volunteer trip, it was a unique travel experience that allowed us participants to completely engage ourselves in the local culture while also volunteering at a nearby school. The school was only in session until noon, which also ended our day of volunteering. This trip was unique because I felt as if we got the best of both worlds, cultural immersion as well as volunteering. The second half of the day was spent engaging ourselves in the local community as we attended different excursions everyday. Both halves of the day were equally as valuable as both opened my eyes to the extreme poverty that this town experienced. It allowed me to see a different perspective of life, as people lived fulfilled lives with little to nothing. By far my favorite memory would simply be the interactions I had with the school children. This being in the classroom, in the garden, or during breaks. This is a life changing trip that I recommend to all.

What would you improve about this program?
This program was incredible and I would recommend it to anyone interesting in learning more about Guatemalan culture while also making a difference in a small-town school. I feel as if the program does have room for improvement. The main thing that I was taken back by was the large the price attached to the program. However, CCS does a good job of guiding participants through the process of how to fundraise money if needed. Another improvement the program could see is providing a detailed itinerary before the volunteers arrived. Often times we would be driving to a cultural activity without being told where we were going. I was always pleased with where we ended up, however knowing in advance would have been nice.
Default avatar
Michael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was blessed to spend two weeks in Azrou, Morocco with Cross Cultural Solutions. It was an amazing experience and something that I highly recommend to everyone. The country and people are so wonderful. I felt 100% safe the entire time and never had any issues. Everyone we interacted with had a big smile and a welcoming spirit. The volunteer experience they set up will leave a lasting impression in my mind. The whole team was great but especially Mohamed. He was the best. Morocco was fantastic and I hope to visit again. CCS was great!

Default avatar
Quinn
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I attended CCS's Spanish Immersion Gap program Feb-Apr 2017. We spent a month each in Peru, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. CCS has a home base for volunteers in each country, and in all three locations the staff were lovely. They were primarily Spanish-speaking which gave volunteers a great opportunity to practice their skills while getting to know them. As far as accommodations go, the only complaint I have is that there were no fans in our dorm in Peru. Everything else was fantastic- food, beds, cleanliness, and support if we needed it. CCS provided cultural activities in each location- we toured ruins in Lima, had dance and cooking classes in Costa Rica, and attended a Mayan wedding in Guatemala (among lots more things). Weekends and some afternoons were also left free for volunteers to do as they pleased. My group took advantage of this to explore the countries more, like going to Machu Picchu in Peru, San Jose in Costa Rica, and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

Volunteer placements were well-managed and CCS was attentive to where volunteers wanted to help, within the realms of what their respective communities needed. There was an issue with a few of my fellow gappers in Costa Rica at the HIV home, but once it was brought to CCS's attention the problem was quickly resolved. I loved all of my placements: in Peru I worked with 5-year olds, in Costa Rica I was at a senior center/nursing home, and in Guatemala I volunteered with deaf kids. I learned something new at each placement, not only about myself, but also gained a closer look at the cultures of each country which I think couldn't be achieved without being incorporated so thoroughly.

As far as the Spanish immersion aspect of the program goes, it was easy to speak minimal Spanish over the course of the trip. It is up to each volunteer to seek out opportunities to practice, which is easy to do if you look. I wish we could have had more Spanish classes (we had 2 a week in each country), if only to develop a firm foundation to build off of. Once again, the staff in each country were great help with speaking. They were patient, kind, and happy to answer any questions we had.

It was an incredible experience that I think everyone should have the opportunity to do. I met an incredible number of wonderful people whose experiences and stories will stay with me as long as I can remember.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked to have more Spanish classes every week.
Default avatar
Naomi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I recently found myself in-between jobs and decided to do something 'big' with my time off. Two weeks in Rabat certainly fit the bill! It was an eye-opening, delightful trip. I had the opportunity to visit three volunteer sites - the children's hospital, the school (to teach advanced English), and the orphanage. It is clear that CCS volunteers are welcomed and appreciated at all sites. The CCS onboarding program gives you plenty of ideas to prepare for your volunteer assignment, but there are also many resources at home base that can be used to augment or adjust your plans.
As noted by other reviewers, you have afternoons to learn more about Islam, the Arabic language, cooking lessons, or visit local sites. Safety was a concern for my family... we simply didn't know a whole lot about Morocco in advance. There was no need to worry. There are ample security measures in place, but I felt safer in Rabat than I do in parts of my hometown (Houston). Safety extended to the personal trips I took on weekends (with a housemate). We were on our own but CCS checked on us daily, just to be sure our experience was going well.
I am thrilled to have visited Rabat. It's a beautiful, interesting city. I also had the chance to visit Fes, Tangier, and a few other sites on my time off. Now I can say I rode a camel!
Morocco is a fascinating place. Thanks to this program, I genuinely feel like a better world citizen!

What would you improve about this program?
No suggestions.
Default avatar
Julia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had the best summer of my life because of this incredible program. I got to travel to many different places in Guatemala and visit so many diverse locations. I went zip-lining, made chocolate, brought souvenirs in markets and so many other fun activities. I loved teaching in the school! The kids were so sweet and really appreciated us teaching them and playing soccer at recess. I recommend this to anyone!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 12
Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
9.3 •27 reviews

More than 1.1 million Costa Ricans live in poverty - that’s 1 in every...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala
Guatemala
9.63 •19 reviews

Guatemala has been one of the strongest economic performers in Latin...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Morocco
Morocco
9.76 •17 reviews

Four million people in Morocco live below the poverty line, three...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Peru
Peru
9.63 •16 reviews

Peru has historically been one of the poorest and most unequal...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Ghana
Ghana
8.81 •16 reviews

Poverty is endemic in Ghana and has devastating effects on children...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Thailand
Thailand
8.75 •8 reviews

Poverty has declined substantially over the last 30 years in Thailand...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: High School Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala
Guatemala
10 •3 reviews

As a summer high school volunteer in Guatemala, you’ll be warmly...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: High School Volunteer Abroad in Ghana
Ghana
7.5 •2 reviews

As a High School Volunteer Abroad in Ghana, you’ll be welcomed warmly...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Spanish Immersion Gap Year Program
Multiple Countries
9.5 •2 reviews

Soak up the Latin American culture and learn the Spanish language. Our...

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Darlene Grieger

Darlene was raised in Iowa but she is living in the Phoenix, Arizona area. She went to Thailand to volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions. She had spent 12 weeks in Costa Rica with CCS and most recently, she volunteered in Lima, Peru with CCS. After 40 years of being a real estate broker, she retired. She has worked in some of the schools helping students with English, Math and homework. Darlene was a volunteer at both of George W. Bush's Inaugurations.

Morning: As soon as I got up I would go to the kitchen and check if the coffee was ready. If not, I would make it, have a cup, and smile to all of the other volunteers running through the kitchen to get to the shower. We were given sarongs so we always looked presentable...I got dressed and made sure the room was picked up. We did have room check on occasion. I was fortunate to have my own room most of the time. I was the oldest and felt they gave in to that. I would go back to the kitchen and have some cereal or peanut butter sandwich. There was no cooking inside. The stove was outside on the patio. Some cooked an egg; however, the cook was always available if needed. By 8 AM we had to be ready for our bus and the cooks would prepare our lunch and always put in a little packet of tissue. There is a shortage of "paper goods" there.

There were 12 volunteers from around the world and we were assigned to the different schools to help students with English. My partner was an 18 year old from Canada. Each couple had their own room assigned and the students would go from one class to another on a schedule. We had between 80 and 100 students a day and we had to come up with subjects that would interest them. That was not difficult as they all seemed to want to learn from us. We would have our lunch together and then the bus would arrive to take us back home. We would be escorted to and from the bus by some students and some teachers and often times, the principal. We would be at one school for 2 days and then another school for 2 days and so on for 2 weeks.

Afternoon: Sometimes there would be trips planned and sometimes we were on our own to do whatever. I did go on some very interesting trips but I also enjoyed going to my room and resting. There were times we would watch TV together. We were all busy checking our emails and still getting acquainted with each other.

Evening: We would all have dinner together about 6 PM and a few times, CCS took us out to dinner to get acquainted with their food and their customs. After dinner I would work on my lessons for the next day. Most of the volunteers were also preparing for their classes and we did it around the kitchen table or in that area, all together. The driver would take some people to town or shopping or to a place where younger kids meet. He would pick them up and bring them home at their agreed upon time. I did go but preferred talking with other volunteers.

Highlights: The highlight of my volunteer experience was with the young people. They were so happy to see us there and they wanted to touch us all of the time. We were appreciated. My big highlight was when the bus would pull out of the school parking lot, the students would line up on the left side of the driveway (I sat behind the driver with an open window) and they would reach for my hand. This happened at different schools and it always brought tears to my eyes.

I hired a driver in Bangkok and he took me to lots of different and interesting places, plus acting as a body guard. He took me to the castle when the King's sister was cremated. He asked that I wear a black outfit and pearls. Before we went, he took me to an elegant place to buy some beautiful pearls. When he escorted me on the grounds, he told me that the people watching were saying "What a nice lady!" I was showing respect for their King and Family.

The overall experience was overwhelming. I tried to cram every single second into my mind so I wouldn't forget it. How wonderful it is to have these thoughts that I can "bring forward" and smile again, just remembering what a great experience I had. I want to go back.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Thea Mushi

Job Title
Tanzania Country President

What is your favorite travel memory?

Traveling by boat to Zanzibar is my favorite travel memory. I was born in mainland Tanzania, near the highest mountain in Africa (Kilimanjaro), but I had never experienced travels on the sea before.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I joined my current company, CCS, 13 years ago. I started as a Program Director and am now a Country President. Although my daily work is not different, my experiences and what I've learned have helped me to grow tremendously.

Meeting different nationalities of different backgrounds and cultures makes me feel like I have traveled to almost all of the countries in the world.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would chose Tanzania. It is a peaceful country, with welcoming people and it has a lot to offer in terms culture and nature. The CCS programs in Tanzania have a lot to offer through volunteering in the community and working with CCS partners - the work is very rewarding.

It allows you to connect on a deeper level with local culture through interaction with communities and cultural and learning activities. It also provides a safe and comfortable home base, traditional tasty Tanzanian dishes, and local language lessons.

It also offers free time on the weekends where you are able to visit National Parks and other nearby sites, go mountain climbing in Zanzibar, and visit the ocean.

What makes your company unique?

I think that the professionalism our staff displays when working with volunteers and the desire for them to have a positive experience is what makes our company unique. Also, safety and security are a priority for us!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Teamwork and dynamic leaders.

Professional Associations