The CCS Experience
The earlier - the better! This way, you can start practicing some language skills, reading up on the culture and community, and looking forward to your effective volunteer work. We do suggest reserving your space at least 60 days in advance, however, as many programs do fill quickly. Looking to travel very soon? We've worked with many volunteers with last-minute plans, so we can absolutely provide an incredible experience closer to your program start date, as long as the program still has space available!
We believe that the most successful approach to international volunteering is one that is community-led and driven. That's why our in-country staff is made up entirely of local nationals, who truly understand the needs of their own communities. We work in partnership with sustainable community organizations who are dedicated to creating positive change in communities, and know how to effectively work with international volunteers to meet these goals.
As an international volunteer, we'll work with you to learn about your Skills & Interests and individually match you with a CCS Project where you can engage in meaningful work. And, the full CCS in-country team will be with you every step of the way to support you in making a difference.
Volunteers consistently rave about the food at the CCS Home-Base, with each meal lovingly prepared by a CCS cook. You'll enjoy three meals each day with a variety of healthy and delicious local cuisine. And, the CCS cooks love to share your favorite recipes, so feel free to hop in the kitchen for an impromptu cooking lesson! CCS cooks are also trained in safe food preparation and cooking for a variety of dietary preferences, restrictions, and allergies.
A CCS program is a great way to experience all that volunteering abroad has to offer for a shorter period of time than the Peace Corps, which requires a two-year commitment. Learn more about the similarities and differences in CCS vs. the Peace Corps
If you're looking for firsthand accounts of exactly what it's like to be a CCS volunteer, you'll find exactly what you're looking for in the CCS blog. Are you a first-time traveler? Do you know what it would be like to plan your gap year with CCS? Wondering what our volunteers think of CCS safety? Whatever you need, you can get the inside scoop on the CCS blog!
We'd love to! The CCS in-country staff is there to support and guide you through your full experience, 24/7. Our teams are made up entirely of local nationals, who truly understand the needs of their own communities and who can provide personal and expert guidance and information during your journey. Each team is led by a fantastic Country Director who's an expert in the field of international development and volunteering. You'll meet community leaders like Bela Singh in India, who's founded schools and counseling centers and is passionate about girls & women's empowerment. Or, meet Jose Hernandez in Costa Rica - his extensive experience in international development includes work with the United Nations and the Foreign Service Foundation. You'll also be surrounded by an amazing and supportive team of dedicated professionals, including CCS cooks and drivers, who are each deeply passionate about sharing their experiences and making sure that you are warmly welcomed into a new culture and community. Learn more about our team, or check out the team you'll meet in-country on our destination pages.
Cultural activities are organized by CCS and included in every volunteer experience. They are designed to give you a unique insight into your new community, so whether you're participating in an engaging conversation with a local expert, visiting a cultural landmark, learning a new language, or practicing traditional dance, each cultural activity will offer you a new level of understanding and genuine opportunities for cultural exchange. Read this blog post to find out more about why cultural activities are part of the CCS experience.
All volunteers must have a passport that is valid for six months after they plan on returning to their country of origin. In some CCS countries, a visa is also required to enter the country, which is dependent on your country of citizenship. A visa is permission from the government to enter and exit the country you are visiting, and will be stamped in your passport. Your Program Specialist will provide you with more information on obtaining a visa, if one is required, to your CCS destination.
The CCS Home-Base is your home-away-from-home, a place to relax and reflect right in the local community where you'll engage with your second family of fellow volunteers and our expert CCS in-country staff. The Home-Base is comfortable, with common areas to share experiences, comfortable shared bedrooms, and plenty of space as you're re-charging for your next incredible day of volunteer adventures. We know that your comfort is key to giving all you can as an international volunteer, and the CCS Home-Base is just one of the many unique ways that the CCS experience changes everything. Check out what a CCS Home-Base experience is like at Your Home-Base.
Our team of Program Specialists, who are all past CCS volunteers themselves, are on hand to answer any questions you might have, and to guide you as you select and prepare for your CCS program. Reach out to us, 7 days a week, by calling 1-800-380-4777, chatting with us, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to talk about how our CCS experiences changed everything, and can't wait to hear from you!
To enroll in a CCS program, choose your destination, start date, and length of stay - from 1 to 12 weeks. Then, just click Enroll on our website and with a $350 deposit toward your program fee, you can be on your way!
Once you've committed to making a meaningful difference abroad, your Program Specialist will reach out to you to welcome you on your experience. You'll have access to myCCS - our exclusive volunteer portal - to start learning all about effective volunteer work, meeting the in-country team, and learning all that your new home-away-from-home has to offer. Your Program Specialist will be on hand, 7 days a week, to answer any questions you might have and to continue providing information and updates as you prepare for the experience of a lifetime. We're excited to start working with you!
CCS volunteers include students, working professionals, 50+ volunteers, families, and groups from around the world! For our Volunteer Abroad, Gap Year Abroad, and Intern Abroad programs, volunteers must be 18 to participate independently. If traveling with a parent or guardian, the minimum age is typically 8 years old, but give us a call to talk about your specific needs. We also offer High School Volunteer Abroad for teens, ages 15-17, who wish to make a difference on programs designed just for teens!
The diversity of CCS volunteers is one of the elements that makes a CCS experience amazing! Sharing your experience with volunteers from many backgrounds and perspectives - who quickly become lifelong friends - only deepens the impacts of your work. Hear from some of our volunteers of all ages.
We believe that all volunteers have something amazing to contribute! Our projects are designed to accommodate all levels of skills and experience.
A basic knowledge of English is necessary to follow the instructions provided by CCS staff. Speaking the local language is not required. In fact, read this blog post for a firsthand account of how impactful a CCS experience can be, even when you don't speak the language.
Actually, most of our volunteers enroll on their own for the international adventure of a lifetime. You can rest assured that our programs are the safest around, and that you've always got an incredible team of in-country staff to rely on. The beautiful thing about volunteering internationally with CCS is that even if your fellow volunteers aren't your old friends, you're never really going it alone. In fact, chances are, you're about to meet some brand new, soon to be "old friends." Whether you find that special connection with your fellow-volunteers, the in-country staff, or new local friends, the moment you arrive in your destination of choice, you become a part of the family! Read this story about a solo female traveler and learn about the connections that you'll make on your volunteer experience of a lifetime.
Yes! Cross-Cultural Solutions is committed to making the international volunteer experience a possibility for everyone. We understand that the accessibility of a CCS program site is defined by your unique needs and we are happy to provide comprehensive information about our program locations to help you determine which destination is best for you. We take great pride in making our programs accessible to all, and through the years, we've worked with many volunteers with disabilities in order to ensure accessibility and comfort. We partner with Mobility International USA (MIUSA) to make sure that we are maintaining an inclusive environment for people with disabilities at each of our program locations. For questions about the accessibility of our specific program sites, please don't hesitate to reach out to a Program Advisor.
Health & Safety
It sure does! All volunteers are provided with comprehensive travel medical insurance and emergency evacuation insurance, which is included in the CCS program fee. This insurance is provided through Starr Indemnity and Liability Company and covers each volunteer for up to $50,000 of in-country medical insurance as well as medical transportation insurance and up to $1 million of Medivac insurance. If you want to upgrade or extend your travel medical insurance policy, you can upgrade or extend on the Core Travel Insurance Website. If you need to cancel due to a covered illness or injury before your program start date, a $1000 cancellation insurance policy is also included. Please note that your program fee must be paid in full for the cancellation insurance policy to take effect.
A lot of our safety procedures have been put in place to help protect against illness in-country—like traveler-safe food and drinking water. But, in the case of an illness, we are ready to ensure that the volunteer receives appropriate and professional care. Whether it means a warm bowl of soup and a comforting hand, or an appointment with a local doctor or hospital, our experienced staff is trained and ready to handle any situation. It starts with our comprehensive travel medical and emergency evacuation insurance, which provides the peace of mind that your needs will be covered in the event of a medical issue. We've also developed relationships with nearby doctors and hospitals so that any concerns can be handled immediately. And, our in-country staff will be there every step of the way—and we are confident that a dedicated and caring professional who is there 24/7 is often the best comfort of all when your teen is overseas.
Absolutely! We have tons of experience with food allergies and dietary restrictions, having supported over 35,000 international volunteers. Whether you’re vegetarian, Kosher, gluten-free, have peanut allergies, or anything else, just let us know beforehand and we’ll make sure you’re covered. Our in-country cooks, who prepare delicious home-cooked meals, have specific training in food restrictions and allergies, food safety standards, and are experienced in preparing meals for a variety of preferences.
We recommend that all volunteers visit their travel doctor before any experience abroad to review your healthcare requirements before traveling abroad. Recommended or required vaccinations for international travel can also be found at the Centers for Disease Control or UK Department of Health websites.
We're passionate about the safety of our volunteers, and it's core to everything we do - from selecting a program location to looking at every little detail of the Home-Base and the program design. Our in-country staff are on-site 24/7 to ensure your safety. The CCS Home-Base is designed to provide a safe and relaxing retreat after a day of volunteering, exploring, and learning. We look at every little detail of your experience to make sure it's impactful, amazing, and safe. We've thought of everything from daily vehicle inspections to carbon monoxide and fire detectors throughout the Home-Base - even grip tape in slippery areas! Learn more about our detailed commitment to your safety at Safety, Our #1 Priority.
Program fees and fundraising
Travelocity has selected CCS as a partner for their Travel for Good℠ program and is offering grants of up to $5,000 for individuals or groups to volunteer abroad.
Additionally, quite a few universities and colleges have identified scholarships and grants specifically intended for international volunteerism. If you're a student, additional funding may be available through your university.
Yes! Program fees are 100% tax-deductible for U.S. residents, and for many, airfare is tax-deductible as well (dependent upon travel plans for before and after volunteering).
With CCS, you don’t pay to volunteer. You pay for the assurance of living in a safe and comfortable Home-Base; an opportunity to be completely immersed in a warm and welcoming community, and to find the family that you never knew you had.
Your program fee enables us to create an incredible breadth of Cultural Activities, from language and cooking lessons, to exclusive lectures on local culture and history. Your contribution will help to create long-term sustainable jobs paying living wages for local people, like the CCS directors, drivers, cooks, and house guards, and to make sure that they’re all expertly trained. You’ll pay so that the ingredients necessary for the CCS cook to prepare authentic, healthy cuisine are purchased locally, and to ensure that the trusty passenger van safely transporting you to and from your volunteer project each day is ready for the job. The contribution of your program fee is an investment in your international experience, and in the local economy in a community that you’ll soon call home.
The CCS program fee is comprehensive, covering all your needs once you arrive in-country, from accommodations in the CCS Home-Base to the full support of the CCS in-country staff to all meals and Cultural & Learning Activities. Read the full list here. Volunteers are responsible for their own flight costs, as well as free time activities (except for CCS High School Volunteer Abroad programs, which includes these staff-led excursions!)
Why yes, we do! And we'd be happy to set one up for you. Just contact a member of our team and we'll create a payment plan that works for you.
Certain companies offer matching gifts to employees and sometimes, they even extend the offer to spouses and relatives of employees as well. This means that they'll match at least a part of what you pay toward your Cross-Cultural Solutions program fee. Each company's matching gifts program is unique, so be sure to review eligibility criteria, match percentages, and other important details.
Find out if your company offers a matching gifts program that can be used toward your Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteer abroad adventure here. Once you've confirmed that your company offers matching gifts, please ensure that you're eligible before applying for a matching gift. For more information contact a Program Advisor today.
Did you know that you can fund your trip by utilizing matching gifts programs, tax deductibility options, payment plans, fundraising, and more? Check out our Fund Your Trip page complete with tips on how to save, stories of volunteers who made it happen, and a handy Budget Wizard to help you calculate your total out-of-pocket cost. Once you take advantage of the CCS Fund Your Trip tool, you'll be amazed at how low the CCS out-of-pocket program fee can be!
Of course we do! Check out this two part blog post with tips on how to snag great airfare all of the CCS volunteer destinations. And if you've got a tip of your own, be sure to share the knowledge by leaving a comment on the blog.
CCS volunteers can choose their CCS Project: Education & Literacy, Child Development, Girls & Women’s Empowerment, Aging with Dignity, Support for People with Disabilities, HIV/AIDS, and Global Health. All CCS Projects are community-led and driven and immerse you in helping sustainable organizations toward their goals in creating positive change in communities around these important social issues.
Free time is just another amazing part of your full experience with CCS. On some afternoons, most evenings, and all weekends, you can spend your time relaxing in the Home-Base, getting to know the community better, or embarking on some pretty incredible adventures in your chosen region or throughout the country! You may also choose to travel before or after the program, but this may affect the tax-deductibility of your airfare. Learn more about what's included in the CCS experience, and for some great ideas of what you can do during your free time abroad.
Read more about what CCS volunteers choose to do during free time on the CCS blog.
Forever! Just kidding. We offer a variety of program lengths so that we can meet the needs of every kind of volunteer. Only have a week to spare? We've got plenty of week-long programs that offer an excellent introduction to your destination of choice through volunteering, cultural immersion, cultural activities, and free time. And the best part is, one week is plenty of time to make a real impact.
Our volunteers love their CCS experience, but here's one thing we hear over and over: "I wish I stayed longer!" Try a longer duration of stay and reduce the cost per week of your experience. So if you've got more time to spare -- three weeks, seven, twelve (you get the point) -- enroll to volunteer in any destination for up to 12 weeks. And if after that, you're ready for even more, we've got some great options for pairing programs so that you can volunteer in multiple destinations, one after another.
Absolutely! When you volunteer with CCS, the experience you get is not only life-changing, but also educational. Many of our past volunteers have received academic credit that they were able to apply to service learning programs, internships, and/or independent study requirements. Be sure to check with your academic advisor to assess your eligibility for academic credit.
Read our blog to learn more about how students just like you were able to get academic credit for their CCS experience.
You can tell us the volunteer project you’re interested in, and you’ll be matched with an incredible community organization that needs your assistance to meet community goals. Your specific volunteer assignment is driven by ever-changing community needs, so that your project will be high impact, sustainable, immersive, and incredibly fulfilling!
We've got tons of stories from CCS alums who were a bit hesitant about our uniquely community-driven volunteer assignment process, only to later fall in love with this approach. Our volunteer project assignment process has introduced countless volunteers to a completely new way in which they can make a real difference in the world. In fact, lots of our alumni have worked in impact areas that were completely new to them, only return home and change career or academic paths in order to continue to pursue their newfound interest. Want to connect with one of our satisfied alums? Just contact us and we'll connect you with someone in your area.
We believe that each part of your international volunteering experience works to complement the whole. That's why we offer a full and balanced international volunteer experience with time built in for guided cultural activities, solo adventures, cultural exchange, and personal reflection. Whether you're engaging in guided discussions on relevant local issues, or find yourself elbow deep in rice flour and learning how to cook an authentic dish, every organized Cultural Activity will offer you a deeper understanding of the community and all of its beautiful complexities.
Free time is available on some afternoons, most evenings, and every weekend. So whether you choose to go it alone or set out exploring with a crew of your fellow volunteers, every CCS destination offers plenty of time and tons of options for some off-the-charts excursions.
CCS volunteers have a curiosity about the world, and a desire to make their mark. We are students, working professionals, families, retirees, and many others, from all around the world, looking to make meaningful connections in shared service. We are passionate about global issues, and have a thirst for learning about the world around us. We are adventurous, open-minded, and have a desire to explore. We want to go off the traditional tourist path, and immerse ourselves in a community in a real way, sharing unique experiences and interacting with communities and cultures in a way that few tourists are able.
Sound like you? We’d love for you to join us!
CCS destinations are amazing places, all supported by incredible in-country staff members with incredible CCS projects so you can make a positive difference in the lives of others. We know that finding that perfect destination is a hard choice (so why not go to all of our locations!), but we’re here to help you figure out what works best for you! Check out our destinations to see what part of the world most speaks to you, or call a Program Specialist – who’s also a CCS alumni – to find a location that meets your needs.
We offer start dates throughout the year – almost 200 in total – so you have the maximum flexibility in selecting the location and dates that work well for you! Once you’ve found your date, select a length of stay from 1 to 12 weeks. Not seeing something that works for you? Just give us a call or chat with us online!
As a CCS volunteer, you’ll find yourself having a new adventure every day! You’ll start your day at the CCS Home-Base, with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. After breakfast, you’ll take off with your fellow volunteers to give back at your CCS Project. Right before lunch, we’ll be there to pick you up and take you back to the CCS Home-Base for a delicious lunch. Then, we’re off again on an exciting Cultural & Learning Adventure. Some days, you might be learning about the education systems or family structures from an expert guest speaker. On others, you might find yourself in a coffee plantation, participating in a Mayan wedding ceremony, or visiting a local family. After a delicious dinner prepared by the CCS cooks, the evenings are your time, to relax and reflect, explore your community, and get ready for your next exciting day of volunteering. And on weekends, some of our volunteers stay in the Home-Base to forge even deeper community connections, while others are off exploring the region and country through some exciting weekend trips!
Your CCS experience starts from the moment you enroll in your program. Your CCS Program Specialist will reach out to welcome you, and get you started on your journey. Through our exclusive myCCS portal, you’ll be able to learn about your experience and the history and culture of your new community through videos, podcasts, and tons of information – all at your own pace. And of course, your Program Specialist will be with you every step of the way for that expert guidance and support.
From the moment you arrive in the airport in-country, the in-country staff will be there to guide, inspire, share, and support you in every way. Led by an experienced and incredible Country Director, each team is there for you 24/7, and will quickly become your second family. Our Country Directors are incredible – with a deep passion for their communities, and the experience and knowledge to lead an immersive and incredible experience. And, all CCS in-country staff are local nationals, so they truly know and understand the needs of their own communities.
Once you’ve selected your destination, start date, and length of stay, you can enroll right online with a $350 deposit that’s applied toward your program fee. Within seconds, you’ll receive your confirmation and access to your myCCS account to start learning more and preparing for your experience. And, your Program Specialist is there for you, 7 days a week, to welcome you, encourage you, and answer any questions that you might have. Let’s get started!
As the workplace is becoming increasingly global, companies are demanding international experience, cultural competency, and real skills in a global environment. As a CCS intern, you’ll immerse yourself in a deep and rewarding experience to explore the world in a new way while learning about your intern area through real-life, hands-on experiences. With your community mentor, you’ll gain an understanding of the structures and systems that impact your internship on a global scale, in an international community, and at your individual work assignment. You’ll understand new perspectives in healthcare, education, international development, or your specific intern area. And, you’ll become part of a community to understand the social issues impacting many populations, and how amazing community leaders are working to create positive, sustainable change.
We believe that the perspectives, skills, and knowledge gained through an internship abroad is essential for every career path. Through learning and giving back, you’ll set yourself apart as an experienced and internationally-minded professional when you engage in meaningful experiences abroad.
As a CCS intern, you’ll be working at a dynamic community-based organization in your field of interest. Your specific work is custom-designed based on your Skills & Interests and your internship area, while also meeting the community goals and needs. Check out our International Internships to learn more about what we offer!
We believe that the Intern Abroad experience is most impactful when your work is combined with meaningful and immersive Cultural & Learning Activities, guided reflection, and independent exploration and adventure. You’ll join your work assignment for 4-5 hours each morning to immerse yourself in your chosen field of study. In the afternoons, join an amazing Cultural & Learning Activity. And, during your evening and on most weekends, you’ll have free time to explore the community, and the country, to deepen your international perspectives and have fun!
We understand there’s a lot to choose from when you’re deciding on the best international internship for your needs. So, we’re here to help – just call a Program Specialist at 800-380-4777 or chat with us online for expert guidance, from a CCS alumni – on destinations, internship areas, and start dates that work for your schedule.
Or – join a CCS Intern Abroad Webinar to hear from CCS Campus Engagement Specialist Carlton Rounds about how internships fit well into your academic goals.
No time to talk? No problem! Our website is filled with details about your Intern Abroad program. Determine the international internship focus that works best for you, and check out the destination that best matches your interests. Then, choose from start dates available year-round. You can enroll right online – just send us an email or give us a call right after to start preparing for your Intern Abroad experience!
CCS internships are available in 8 countries around the world: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, India (both New Delhi & Dharamsala), Morocco, Ghana, and Tanzania. As a CCS intern, you choose your start date from over 200 dates available year-round. And, you choose the length of your internship experience. While some international internships only require 1 week, most require at least a 4-6 week commitment.
Don’t have 4-6 weeks to give? Check out our incredible Volunteer Abroad opportunities, where you can select your CCS Project to learn about community social issues in as little as one week!
We offer some incredible internship opportunities, but you might have other skills or interests that you’re looking to explore. So give us a call at 800-380-4777 or chat with us right online. Our dedicated team of Program Specialists, all CCS alumni, can talk to you about a custom internship that’s right for you. We have opportunities in performing arts, yoga, world religions, and many more, so let’s explore what’s right for you!
First and foremost, a passion for learning, a thirst for exploring the world, and a desire to make a difference. But, yes, we do have some more specific requirements, depending on your internship area and destination.
All interns in Costa Rica and Peru must speak intermediate Spanish. In Morocco, conversational French or Moroccan Arabic is required.
There’s also a minimum length of stay, which varies by destination and internship. Most often, this requires 4-6 weeks in-country, but we do have internships for as little as one week.
If you’re engaging in a medical or nursing internship program, we’ll also need proof of enrollment in a university that shows that you’re taking courses related to this field.
And, you need to enroll soon! At least 2 months advance registration is required for all international internships.
Don’t meet these requirements? Check out our Volunteer Abroad opportunities, where you can immerse yourself in a CCS Project to learn about and give back to a social issue in your community. Or – reach out to us to talk about your needs and interests!
CCS interns are passionate about global issues and are deeply interested in exploring their major or career path. While most of our interns are university students, we also welcome many interns who are supplementing their career experiences or exploring a new career path through an internship abroad.
In your CCS experience, you’ll be joined by volunteers and interns from many different backgrounds and age groups with a shared interest in exploring the world in a more meaningful way. CCS volunteers come from around the world – and our diverse and passionate volunteers and interns is just part of what makes this experience so incredible!
The CCS Volunteer Abroad program is all about giving back through meaningful, hands-on service in a CCS Project that you choose. Volunteers will be immersed in hands-on work in the community directly working with project beneficiaries each day, while learning about social issues in each community.
The CCS Intern Abroad program is designed for students looking for more of an academic focus related to a major or a career path. Like the Volunteer Abroad program, you will be working with an incredible community organization tackling important social issues in the community. However, your time at your work assignment will be balanced between volunteer service and education about your CCS internship area, as guided by a community mentor. While some of your time is spent in hands-on work with project beneficiaries, much of your day also involves learning from community members and your mentor about the systems and structures that impact your internship focus in the community.
On both experiences, you’ll be fully supported by the amazing CCS in-country staff, living in the comfortable CCS Home-Base, and you’ll be involved in unique Cultural & Learning Activities with opportunities for free time, independent exploration, and reflection.
With CCS, you’ll be supported every step of the way, starting from the moment you enroll in your program and start to work with your Program Specialist. Once in-country, you’ll be guided by an incredible expert in-country staff who are passionate about international service and cultural experiences. Each team is led by a Country Director who boasts significant experience in international development, and will be there to guide and facilitate your experience.
At your work assignment, you’ll be paired with a community mentor, who’s an expert in your chosen intern area. With your community mentor, you’ll explore the structures and systems that contribute to your internship, and have opportunities to contribute to the community organization in a meaningful way.
CCS works with many universities across the country, and around the world, to fulfill academic requirements for internships and practicums. As each university is different, please present this option to your university to find out if any additional requirements are needed. We provide a Certificate of Completion, expert supervision, and guided reflection as a part of every CCS Intern Abroad experience. Reach out to a Program Specialist or join a CCS Intern Abroad webinar to learn more about how this experience fits into your academic needs.
Many students each year receive academic credit for their Intern Abroad experience with CCS, but as each university has different requirements, it’s best to reach out to a faculty or staff member at your university to see if the CCS Intern Abroad program is available for credit. Need help or want CCS to join in on this discussion? Just give a Program Specialist a call to talk about your individual needs!
Congratulations! You’re about to take the first step in an amazing journey, filled with adventure, lifelong friendships, and of course incredible opportunities to learn and give back in a truly meaningful way! To enroll in a CCS international internship, select your intern area, your destination, and your start date and length of stay. Armed with those details, you can give us a call or enroll right online. Your Program Specialist will be in touch within one day to welcome you to the program, so be sure to respond letting us know about your internship focus area!
High School Volunteer Abroad
As a High School Volunteer Abroad participant, your days are action-packed. Each weekday morning following a delicious breakfast, you’ll join other teens to complete meaningful service work directly with local community members. Return to the Home-Base for lunch with our full, local staff before beginning the afternoon Cultural Activities, which include excursions to local points of interest, language lessons, cooking classes, guest speakers, team building and leadership exercises, and much more to fully immerse and educate you about the culture and country. Of course, a family-style dinner of healthy, local cuisine is always provided, and structured activities are also included on evenings and weekends. Whether you’re playing soccer with our in-country staff, enjoying a game night, or on a weekend trip to a nearby destination, you’ll enjoy that perfect balance of unique activities with time to reflect on your experience and develop lifelong friendships with the exceptional global teens on your program—all from the comfort and safety of a Home-Base.
Because each schedule is created to address current needs of the local community and for interesting cultural events and celebrations, your exact itinerary will be sent to you closer to the program start date.
CCS partners with sustainable community organizations to participate in community-driven volunteer work. This ensures that the work that you are doing is truly needed and requested by the community. Because we work to determine the most immediate needs of the community, we will provide you with the exact description of your volunteer work assignment closer to your program start date; however, you will be working alongside local people on a community driven project.
As a HSVA participant, you may find yourself teaching English in a Mayan school in Tecpan, Guatemala, planting mango trees with a school in Hohoe, Ghana, or painting a mural with local children in Orosi, Costa Rica. In all of your volunteer work, you can be assured that you’re engaging in social issues alongside the local community to make a meaningful difference.
The CCS Home-Base, your in-country home away from home, is part of what makes each of our programs so unique. You’ll live in a house in the local community dedicated exclusively to teens, with the full 24-hour support of our local, in-country staff. Each CCS Home-Base features comfortable accommodations, with 4 - 6 teens per room (separated by gender), and common areas to interact with new friends, learn about the local culture, and enjoy meals. This gives you the perfect balance to relax in a comfortable environment while still living in a local neighborhood as a member of the community, and is just one example of what we do to ensure our stringent safety and security standards.
Learn more about the Home-Base on the CCS blog.
Cross-Cultural Solutions participants are exceptional teens with an interest in service and international issues, all of whom have been individually selected through our application and interview process, and have been trained before arriving in-country. These teens include a mix of young men and women from around the world. In fact, CCS alumni represent over 100 countries in total, adding a unique blend of cultures and perspectives to your cultural experience.
CCS programs are unique because of our dedicated full-time, in-country staff. Each program is led by a Country Director, who is an expert with at least 10 years of experience in international volunteering and international development. The Country Director also leads a full team of professional staff who truly love the work we do. Our team includes cooks, drivers, guards, and Program Officers. Cross-Cultural Solutions has a full training program in place for our worldwide staff that runs continuously throughout the year, making sure that our high quality and safety standards are consistent worldwide. We think you’ll be impressed too once you get a chance to learn about the experience of our dynamic and inspiring team!
We take supervision on the High School Volunteer Program very seriously, and provide 24-hour supervision to all teens with one male and one female highly-trained and experienced CCS staff member present at all times. You can be assured of a minimum 6 to 1 volunteer to staff ratio at all times, ensuring that the HSVA experience is safe and well-structured.
We know the importance of preparation and information before you begin your program, and our team of alumni is there to guide you every step of the way. Starting when you are considering your program, you can reach out to a Program Advisor to help determine the best location and start dates for you. Once you enroll, you’ll be guided through a training process by your dedicated Program Site Specialist, all of whom are proud CCS alums. Parents and teens alike will have opportunities to participate in individual calls and conference calls with other volunteers and parents of volunteers, complete with a wealth of program information to ensure that your every question is answered and you can be effective and prepared for your program. And, once you arrive in-country, you’ll have a full-day orientation, including a tour of your new community, an introduction to cultural norms, and effective international volunteering. Finally, once you return, you are part of the CCS global family, where we offer tools and guidance on how to leverage your experience, continue your impact, and remain engaged in global issues.
We've created our program fee specifically so it’s inclusive for all of your in-country expenses. What does that mean? Accommodations in the Home-Base within the local community, delicious meals prepared by local cooks, unlimited safe drinking water, all of your activities including Cultural Activities and language lessons, and of course the full support and guidance of our in-country staff of local nationals. We also provide transportation to and from the airport and your volunteer project, and comprehensive travel medical insurance. And most importantly, we arrange and support you throughout a meaningful volunteer assignment that is based on the needs of the community. All in all, you get 20 years of experience from the leading organization in the field. We virtually invented this kind of volunteering. You get an unmatched safety record that includes 24-hour security and supervision, and the peace of mind to know that our experience informs safety measures in areas that you’d never think to ask about. And, you get our track record on providing quality programs. Overwhelmingly, we hear that “volunteering with CCS changed my life.”
So the only expenses that you need to think about are airfare to and from your home country to the country where you’ll be volunteering, any visa fees or airport exit fees (if required), and any funds for personal expenses on the program, such as long-distance phone calls or souvenirs.
CCS volunteers come from around the world, so we allow you the flexibility in determining the flight that works best for you. Once you arrive in-country, you’ll be greeted at the airport by a CCS staff member—right at the arrivals gate—who’ll transport you in a CCS vehicle to the Home-Base. Since volunteers arrive on the same start date, you’ll often be on a flight with other volunteers, and we connect you with those volunteers and their parents well in advance of the program, so that you can plan to fly together, if you wish. Though many teens opt to arrive independently, we also offer a flight option for teens from a US-based gateway city where you can meet up and board the flight together to arrive in-country as a group.
We realize it’s important to stay in touch during your program, and for parents of HSVA participants to have a way to reach Cross-Cultural Solutions day and night. At every Home-Base, there is a volunteer phone that accepts international calls, and that number will be provided to parents of participants. In addition, internet access is either available in the Home-Base or in a nearby internet café that we visit as a group, so that you can stay in touch via email, social media, and Skype. Finally, to add to your peace of mind, a 24-hour hotline is available for emergency questions where you or your parents can always reach a CCS staff member at CCS HQ. Of course, your Program Site Specialist will continue to be available throughout (and after) the program to address any concerns and answer all questions, and they are in regular contact with our in-country staff.
To ensure the safety of the Home-Base environment, we only allow High School Volunteer Abroad participants, ages 15-17, and our in-country staff members to stay or visit the Home-Base. However, we do encourage parents to join their teens before and/or after the program to explore the country together, through independent travel.
Yes, and we encourage you to speak with alumni and parents of alumni as well. Everyone is eager to share stories, and with tens of thousands of happy alums, we've got quite a long list of folks—volunteers and parents of volunteers—who are happy to talk you to about the CCS volunteer experience. Just email Eric, our Alumni Engagement Specialist, at email@example.com and he'll put you in touch with an alumni family in your area.
Read firsthand accounts of the CCS High School Volunteer Abroad experience on our blog.
The safety of our volunteers is our #1 priority and, with 20 years of experience and more than 35,000 international volunteers, we’ve learned what is important to keep volunteers safe. It starts with the initial selection of our program sites—every location is chosen with safety in mind, and we are continuously monitoring the country and community so that we are aware of local events. We think about the big things that you might already have in mind, like building relationships with local doctors and hospitals and providing drinking water safe for travelers. We’re also thinking about those small details that you might not have in mind, like comprehensive daily vehicle inspections and installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors within each Home-Base. Our experience and our commitment to safety make us the safest international volunteer program out there, and we invite you to ask us more about our detailed safety standards. We’re sure you’ll be impressed.
And you can learn more about CCS safety by visiting our blog!
We are equipped to work with teens who are taking mood altering medications and prescription painkillers, and have developed standards to ensure the proper use and distribution of these medications. After enrollment, you will indicate any medications on our Health and Emergency Contact form, and we will collect these from you once you arrive in-country for safe keeping in a secure environment for the protection of all participants. We are equipped to handle refrigeration needs, and our in-country staff, who is always available, will distribute the correct dosage.
CCS HSVA participants come from all around the world, and have shown the dedication and maturity necessary to be successful international volunteers. To start your journey, complete an online application. We will be in contact with you upon receipt to invite you to join us for a 20-minute interview via phone or Skype. Following the successful completion of this process, a Program Advisor will let you know if you have been selected for the program, and if so, to provide you with an enrollment code. We advise teens to enroll early, as spaces on our programs do fill quickly!
Absolutely! If you're interested in applying volunteer hours served during your Cross-Cultural Solutions experience to The Presidential Volunteer Service Award just email our Alumni Engagement Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will make sure that your hours are applied to your 12-month volunteer service period or hours served over the course of a lifetime. Visit The Presidential Volunteer Service Award for award criterion and benefits information.