At CCS, we love a good story just as much as the next guy. Here’s ours:
In 1994, Steve Rosenthal, our fearless leader, bought a one-way ticket to Nepal. He spent the year traveling through Nepal, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Uganda, Egypt, Kenya, Jordan, and Israel. During his time in Kenya, Steve took an old friend up on an opportunity to work alongside a group of Peace Corps volunteers building a local health clinic in the Turkana region. For just over one week, Steve lived and worked among a community of rural Kenyans and his fellow volunteers. At the end of the week, he continued on with his travels, but the village was never far from his mind.
The idea that local people would benefit from his hard work brought with it a beautiful sense of accomplishment and pride. But more than anything, the experience opened Steve’s eyes to the possibility of real social change through volunteerism. This is when he began to wonder: can this kind of immersive volunteer experience be organized for folks on a larger scale?
After only a few months back in the U.S., Steve took off again. This time, he was Delhi bound. With the seed of international volunteerism firmly planted, he traveled to Delhi and brought together a group of local development experts to explore the possibility of organized, short-term volunteer opportunities. Among the most enthusiastic of the group was long-time community organizer, Bela Singh. It was in Bela that Steve found his first obvious collaborator, and together they created Project India, later renamed Cross-Cultural Solutions. One of their primary goals was to defer to the needs, goals, and areas open for volunteer support as identified by the community, without imposing outside ideas. A culturally appropriate Home-Base was set up for volunteers, local staff were recruited, and partnerships with local organizations were forged and the rest, as they say, is history!
Today, we send volunteers to 9 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Our alumni base of over 35,000 have in turn become part of a movement of volunteers who work and learn together, benefiting local communities through their efforts, and gaining new perspectives.