OUR TEAM

We've got 250+ amazing folks all over the globe working tirelessly to provide you with the very best professional and personal attention, from enrollment all the way through re-entry back home, and beyond. CCS in-country Directors are local experts and every member of our stalwart crew at HQ is a proud CCS alumnus, so we all understand firsthand how international volunteering can be a total "life-changer." Not only are we super dedicated to giving the best international volunteering experience ever, but we’re also a pretty cool bunch.

Ragland Devadass, India Country President
Ragland Devadass
India Country President

Committed to supporting the youth of India through social and economic empowerment, Ragland brings 28 years of experience in community-based child, women, and youth development through programming across the country. A graduate of Madurai Kamaraj University, Ragland is an internationally-recognized development professional with experience in government and non-government agencies to develop programs aligning with Sustainable Development Goals and hosting seminars globally on child rights and child development. Join forces with a renowned development professional to make a sustainable impact in India while deeply immersing yourself in it's varied culture.

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Committed to supporting the youth of India through social and economic empowerment, Ragland brings 28 years of experience in community-based child, women, and youth development …

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Karol Hermoza, Peru Country President
Karol Hermoza
Peru Country President

I believe that positive impact and investment in education can change the realities of the beneficiaries we serve. I am passionate about ensuring that each volunteer makes a meaningful difference, but also experiences Lima from the perspective of a Peruvian, from the delicious food to our history and culture.

I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Tourism Management from San Ignacio de Loyola University (Lima, Peru) and a Master's Degree in International Cultural Heritage Management from Durham University (Durham, UK). My work experience ranges from tourism to cultural heritage to social responsibility, where I have a particular interest in creating experiences that represent a true Peruvian immersion.

I am passionate about impactful volunteering and sustainability. CCS gives me a chance to make a difference.

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I believe that positive impact and investment in education can change the realities of the beneficiaries we serve. I am passionate about ensuring that each volunteer makes a …

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Juan Carlos Buonafina, Guatemala Country President
Juan Carlos Buonafina
Guatemala Country President

Juan Carlos Buonafina is known for his kind personality and for his dedication to the people of his home country of Guatemala. Juan Carlos is an educator, an intercultural exchange professional, and an expert at guiding international volunteer experiences. After receiving his degree, Juan Carlos started his career with CCS, specifically leading the CCS teen program in the Maya Highlands of Tecpan. Join Juan Carlos on your Guatemala journey to gain a unique and unparalleled insight into life in the mountainside towns of Guatemala.

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Juan Carlos Buonafina is known for his kind personality and for his dedication to the people of his home country of Guatemala. Juan Carlos is an educator, an intercultural …

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Mohamed Mhmmoudi, Morocco Country President
Mohamed Mhmmoudi
Morocco Country President

I fight for the education of vulnerable women, children, and those with developmental disabilities to combat illiteracy and increase opportunities to continue formal schooling.

Growing up in a rural village of Morocco where many children didn’t have the opportunity to attend school, I see myself in many of the children volunteers work with. Very close to home, my mother is also illiterate; and I have seen the impacts of illiteracy on early mortality rates, high fecundity, malnutrition, and high infant mortality. Literacy and education is a key social issue in Morocco to improve the lives and futures of women and children. I was fortunate to earn a degree in Economics & Management and continued my work toward improving my community through the Peace Corps as the Safety & Security Manager, coming full circle from a turning point in my life after meeting a Peace Corps volunteer as a teenager.

I am proud to serve as a humanitarian and educator to promote peace and understanding across a broad range of cultures. As an international leader, my work with volunteers and with my community inspires me to do my part to create a world where every child has the opportunity to pursue an education, and to receive the compassion and love they deserve.

Credentials

Mohammed III University, Fes, Morocco (Business Management)
Master's Level Courses, Economic Policies (2 years)

Work Experience
Peace Corps (7 years): Safety & Security Officer
Teacher of Business & Law at ESIAS High School

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I fight for the education of vulnerable women, children, and those with developmental disabilities to combat illiteracy and increase opportunities to continue formal …

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Makafui Amenuvor , Ghana Country President
Makafui Amenuvor
Ghana Country President

I am committed to the protection of children through education and opportunities to rise from poverty.

Growing up in small town in Ghana with my grandparents, I have seen the vulnerability that comes from being raised in poverty and not having opportunities for education. I was fortunate to have parents who believed in the value of education, and attended a Technical School to further my talents in electronics. However, it was CCS volunteers who motivated me, as a young man, to follow my passions and goals of attending university to establish a career in social justice and change.

In Ghana, over 28% of the population lives in poverty at under $1 per day. With schools that are too often underfunded and overcrowded, the need for individual attention, guidance, and encouragement to children pursuing their dreams is key to a brighter future. I am committed, with CCS volunteers, to improving the possibilities for each child in my community.

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I am committed to the protection of children through education and opportunities to rise from poverty. Growing up in small town in Ghana with my grandparents, I have seen the …

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Didase Mwasse, Tanzania Country President
Didase Mwasse
Tanzania Country President

I am passionate about serving my community through hands-on service and working with people from different nationalities with a variety of backgrounds, skills, and cultures.

Born and raised in Kilimanjaro, I am the father of two lovely daughters and am very involved in volunteer work in my community. My past experiences include working across many sectors of the community, including finance, agriculture, and logistics. When I'm not immersed in supporting my community through volunteer work, you can find me enjoying football, swimming, dancing, and playing pool.

I am dedicated to the role of CCS in my community, and to the relationships it builds between volunteers, community, and the in-country staff.

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I am passionate about serving my community through hands-on service and working with people from different nationalities with a variety of backgrounds, skills, and cultures. …

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Jack Nitsiri, Thailand Country President
Jack Nitsiri
Thailand Country President

I draw my inspiration from his Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej who upholds the principle of giving the needy a tool to catch fish, rather than handing out fish as their food. This is exactly what CCS aims to do. Instead of simply giving away money, we provide volunteer services to the Thai communities who need it most.

After spending a summer abroad in the US, I realized just how much knowing English can help open one's world. I wanted to find a way to give this opportunity to others in Thailand. I joined CCS in 2008, after graduating from college. In 2015 I took an opportunity to work for the U.S. Embassy, but ultimately decided to return to my CCS family in 2018.

I love working for CCS because I get to see just how much the volunteer work both impacts the volunteers' hearts and improves the education of the Thai children we serve. I am inspired by volunteers who chose to give up their time back home to come and support our communities in Thailand.

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I draw my inspiration from his Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej who upholds the principle of giving the needy a tool to catch fish, rather than handing out fish as their food. …

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Lauren Maitland, Director of Programs
Lauren Maitland
Director of Programs

As a mother, I cherish every opportunity my children have to learn and grow through quality education and experiences. Through my international experiences however, I have seen the disparity that exists in offering this healthy start in life to so many children. I am dedicated to promoting equal rights and opportunities for all children.

My first experience as an international volunteer began in Costa Rica, where I spent 12 weeks deeply connecting with a new home and culture. This experience opened my eyes to the injustice and inequality that impacts the life of a child each day, as well as their future opportunities. Through my work, and in particular early childhood education, I strive to give children the chance at a brighter future.

CCS programs I’ve completed:



Check out my blog posts:

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As a mother, I cherish every opportunity my children have to learn and grow through quality education and experiences. Through my international experiences however, I have seen …

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Erik Werner, Director of Youth Engagement
Erik Werner
Director of Youth Engagement

During elementary school I had a life-changing opportunity to live with my family in Cali, Colombia. That experience not only awakened a fascination with language and culture but a deep questioning of why so many are born into poverty and how we can help break the cycle. I was taught at an early age that we should do our best to 'lift up' our fellow humankind and in order to do so we need to better understand each other's cultures.

After earning a B.A. from Caroll College in International Studies and Spanish, I volunteered with the Peace Corps in a small Quechua-speaking village in the province of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Following the Peace Corps I pursued a Masters in Education from the University of Washington and then taught Middle and High School Spanish and ESL for several years. My passion for working with youth led to guiding summer community service travel programs for teenagers in Costa Rica. After spending 20 years of combined experience as a Trip Leader, Country Director, Office Administrator, and Co-Owner of Global Works, I assume the position of Director of High School Programs with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I believe it's all come full circle as the CCS-Squads Abroad model provides opportunities for middle and high school groups to delve deeper into cultures while performing impactful volunteer work that improves the health and educational outcomes of youth organizations around the world.

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During elementary school I had a life-changing opportunity to live with my family in Cali, Colombia. That experience not only awakened a fascination with language and culture but …

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Katie Nichols, Group Specialist
Katie Nichols
Group Specialist

When I volunteer abroad, I'm helping my community - a community of global citizens and fellow humans. And, I'm becoming a more open-minded citizen with an international perspective in the process.

When I traveled on my first international volunteer experience in Ghana, I had no idea how I could help as a college student with no teaching experience. I quickly realized in my classroom that these students were eager to learn, but needed a bit more support in an over-crowded classroom. With the extra support from me, I was able to support a smaller group of students, and provide much-needed one-on-one attention. I may not have changed the world in my month abroad, but I have these kids a head start at learning the basics, and gave one very overworked teacher a bit more relief in focusing on her older students. My experience taught me that we all have the same motivations and desires, and we all deserve a chance at a quality education.

CCS programs I’ve completed:



Check out my blog posts:

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When I volunteer abroad, I'm helping my community - a community of global citizens and fellow humans. And, I'm becoming a more open-minded citizen with an international …

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Annie Chen, Country President, Costa Rica
Annie Chen
Country President, Costa Rica

Growing up with a dual identity and three languages at home, I always took for granted an understanding of diverse cultures and perspectives. It wasn't until after I began living and working overseas that I came to fully appreciate the importance of open dialogue, constant learning and questioning, and redefined family and personal values.

In the last 8 years abroad, I have found gender inequality, inaccessibility to education and a lack of basic healthcare in more communities than not. From my own volunteer experiences in India and Uganda, working with study abroad programs and home-stays in Morocco, to witnessing the effects and influence of CCS volunteers in-country, I firmly believe in the power of giving back, contributing to one's fullest potential and evolving as a global citizen through increased empathy and mutual respect.

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Growing up with a dual identity and three languages at home, I always took for granted an understanding of diverse cultures and perspectives. It wasn't until after I began living …

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Jennica Betsch, Program Manager, Morocco
Jennica Betsch
Program Manager, Morocco

I joined CCS because I believe that a major cause of the global unrest and hate we hear about daily are caused by a lack of understanding of those who live a different reality from our own. CCS provides a solution, allowing volunteers to work closely with the local people to learn about their culture while also challenging volunteers to closely examine the influence of their own preset ideas, culture, and values.

My time with CCS started just 4 months out of my Peace Corps Service in Burkina Faso, West Africa. My life there was certainly different, with no electricity or running water, but I found a home in my tight knit community which helped me adjust to the lifestyle with very little difficulty. I love to tell people about my experience cooking breakfast with friends at 3am during Ramadan and how honored I was to be invited to pray with them on Eid. Through my travels I’ve learned so much about those things that bind us together as members of the human race, while also learning about myself and what I am capable of.

I want to help guide volunteers through that learning process, encouraging them to always look for the helpers in the world, always focus on how easy a smile is made, and keep working to positively influence any given moment.

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I joined CCS because I believe that a major cause of the global unrest and hate we hear about daily are caused by a lack of understanding of those who live a different reality …

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Thea Klement, Program Manager, Ghana
Thea Klement
Program Manager, Ghana

Injustice and inequality are not unchangeable realities. I am convinced that through sustainable programmatic design and the participation of passionate change-makers, we can create a world where every child has adequate emotional and physical support and to education. My experience in Ghana as a volunteer with CCS in 2012 opened my eyes to the needs of our global community and galvanized me to pursue degrees in Biology and Conflict Resolution at Oberlin College. My studies and experience volunteering abroad have led me to believe we all have the power to motivate our global community and to create lasting, impactful change in partnership with at-risk communities everywhere.

I believe that sustainable development and change requires that action must be informed directly by the needs and capacities of local communities, and that aid must be led from within those communities. This is why I am proud to be part of the CCS team here in Ghana, where I’m creating deep relationships and ties at the local level, while supporting volunteers on the ground as they build relationships with their community partners in an exchange of insight, labor, and culture. In addition to my role as a program manager at CCS, I am currently developing a online psychosocial support platform for volunteers and professional aid-workers. Healthy and sustainable humanitarian aid initiatives are only possible with the proper emotional and physical support of all involved in affecting positive change, from children and families, to volunteers and aid-workers. I’m excited to support volunteers as they discover the impact they can make in the world and the communities they can become a part of.

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Injustice and inequality are not unchangeable realities. I am convinced that through sustainable programmatic design and the participation of passionate change-makers, we can …

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Hayden Kemp, Program Specialist
Hayden Kemp
Program Specialist

I am driven by a desire to help others in need and to show that there is still goodness in the world. I want to give back to the amazing global community who contributed to my development as a child.

I grew up in a diverse international community where I learned the value of cultural awareness and volunteering your time. Through the investment of so many people and communities, I developed a deep appreciation for those around me. It was in high school, where I first volunteered abroad in Costa Rica, that I was exposed to the struggles so many children face abroad. I also saw the fear and stereotypes driven through acts of violence by ethnic and cultural groups, and was inspired to seek the truth and began studying Middle Eastern cultures. Today, I work to build relationships of trust and understanding and to fight for the equal rights and dignity of all.

CCS programs I’ve completed:


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I am driven by a desire to help others in need and to show that there is still goodness in the world. I want to give back to the amazing global community who contributed to my …

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Zoe Papalaskaris , Program Manager, Greece
Zoe Papalaskaris
Program Manager, Greece

I strive to support the safe passage of women, men and children in our ever-changing world. The firsthand accounts of my family's migration across borders and oceans ultimately shaped my perspective, and influenced me to pursue a career in protection work for asylum seekers and refugees.

My passion for international development began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Vanuatu, on the islands of Tanna and Espirito Santo. In this role, I assisted my local primary school as a teacher trainer, taught entrepreneurial workshops to women, and led leadership courses for female youth. The experiences aboard led me to earn a Master’s Degree from New York University in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance. My studies brought me to Cuba, Iraq, Bulgaria and Greece to complete research work in women's rights and human trafficking.

Prior to joining the CCS team, I worked in the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate for the U.S. Government. I listened to countless stories of loss and hardship that accompanies a person's flight from their country, yet witnessed the resiliency of the human spirit from children to adults within the scope of my everyday work. I'm pleased to join the CCS team in Greece as a supportive team member to our volunteers, as we work together to return normalcy and dignity to the residents of the Ritsona Camp.

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I strive to support the safe passage of women, men and children in our ever-changing world. The firsthand accounts of my family's migration across borders and oceans ultimately …

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Nick Ruiz, Gap Year Specialist
Nick Ruiz
Gap Year Specialist

I will carry a moment of my international volunteer experience with me for the rest of my life - the moment where I realized that some things are just not important as they once were, and that just 15 minutes could change someone else’s day.

My journey with international volunteering started with inspiration from hearing the stories of fellow alumni Katie Nichols, and before I knew it, I too was en route to Lima, Peru for my own experience. One day in particular I worked at Los Martincitos, an elderly center in the shantytown of Villa El Salvador. During our home visits throughout the community, I visited a woman who lived in a very humble home no larger than a bedroom, but surrounded herself with memories from her life. Despite her having no family to support her, and relying on the elderly center to meet her basic needs, I was greeted with an enormous hug and a warm smile. That time in her home showed me the power of showing attention, listening to a story, and giving a hug. I believe that every person of every age has the right to love, care, and affection. I am a proud CCS alumni.

CCS programs I’ve completed:

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I will carry a moment of my international volunteer experience with me for the rest of my life - the moment where I realized that some things are just not important as they once …

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Alicia Munian, Marketing Coordinator
Alicia Munian
Marketing Coordinator

Being globally conscious was always important to me ever since I joined the Model United Nations Program in 8th Grade. At 12 years old, I researched topics ranging from child soldiers to the inequality of water distribution in various nations. Through this program, I became aware of the different issues that countries face throughout the world. As I continued to research, I realized that there are ways that individuals can make a difference through small actions. I always knew that I wanted to make an international impact.

After completing my B.A in Political Science from Siena College, I kept that vision in mind, and began working for the New York State Assembly to work with legislators to make changes in my local community. I kept thinking back to my experience with my Model United Nations team, and took the best leap of my life. I decided to volunteer abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions in Thailand. Through Cross-Cultural Solutions, I was able to make the impact that I always dreamed of making -- what I researched became my reality. It is an honor to now work for such an incredible organization, dedicated to alleviating various world issues through conscientious actions and volunteering. I want to continue to inspire others to take the leap abroad, and show them that anyone can make a difference!

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Being globally conscious was always important to me ever since I joined the Model United Nations Program in 8th Grade. At 12 years old, I researched topics ranging from child …

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Steve Atamian, Chief Empowerment Officer
Steve Atamian
Chief Empowerment Officer

I am passionate about the global change that volunteers can make if we work in large enough scale and are empowered with the right programmatic infrastructure.

For 13 years, I've been working to create some of the world’s largest and impactful international volunteer organizations under the auspice of empowering volunteers to work in rural health, education, and economic development. Starting with a small group in 2004, I've helped create the systems that have mobilized nearly 50,000 volunteers abroad to provide a half a million under resourced rural community members with access to medicine, clean water, and financial opportunities. Additionally, from 2004-2008, I worked for Deloitte, where I supported the design and implementation of their corporate social responsibility strategy in the Pacific Southwest while coordinating their annual day of volunteer service, deploying thousands of skill-based volunteers in local communities.

Currently, I'm most enthusiastic about the impact Cross-Cultural Solutions is making as we focus our energy around children's health and education. Daily, I wake up motivated and inspired to work alongside our thousands of volunteers and hundreds of team members, as we collaboratively affect one child at a time and become a global leader in child development.

My wife, baby daughter and I currently reside in Seattle where I've given back locally as an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington at Bothell, teaching classes in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. I am a proud graduate of the University of Southern California where I earned degrees in International Relations and Business Administration.

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I am passionate about the global change that volunteers can make if we work in large enough scale and are empowered with the right programmatic infrastructure. For 13 years, …

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Steven C. Rosenthal, Founder & Advisor
Steven C. Rosenthal
Founder & Advisor

I believe passionately that when people come together across cultures to work side-by-side we build bridges of understanding that are powerful and essential to a building a safe and healthy future for all people.

In 1995, at the age of 28, I visited a friend that was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. I volunteered with him to help build a medical clinic in a very rural area. Although I contributed to this important project, I felt that I gained so much more in return. I met extraordinary people that inspired me and I expanded my worldview.

The experience inspired me to found Cross-Cultural Solutions so that others could have the opportunity to contribute to global development and to expand their horizons at the same time. In the decades that followed I could not have been more proud to see tens of thousands of CCS volunteers serve with us.

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I believe passionately that when people come together across cultures to work side-by-side we build bridges of understanding that are powerful and essential to a building a safe …

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Cassandra Tomkin, Chief Operating Officer
Cassandra Tomkin
Chief Operating Officer

I believe that every child should receive the essential emotional, physical, and educational support they need during their formative years.

My journey with CCS began in Peru, as I was searching for a travel experience that was more meaningful and deep than a traditional tourist. The warmth and tenacity of the Peruvian people in the face of significant economic and social struggles opened my eyes and my heart, and I found my calling in working with these global communities. In particular, the persistence children and families demonstrate to achieve their goals in education and development earned my admiration and respect, and I am proud to work alongside these individuals to continue to improve outcomes. CCS has changed the way I see the world, and has changed my ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

CCS programs I’ve completed:



Check out my blog posts:

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I believe that every child should receive the essential emotional, physical, and educational support they need during their formative years. My journey with CCS began in Peru, …

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Lawrence Book McKnight, Program Manager, Peru
Lawrence Book McKnight
Program Manager, Peru

My journey with Cross-Cultural Solutions started in back 2010 as a volunteer, when I completed CCS in Lima! It was one of my first experiences outside of North America, and my first experience in a development context. It is what helped me decide I wanted to study and work in this field. As an avid traveller and someone always interested in other cultures, I took every opportunity to travel with my family and through school. I believe that experiential learning is key in creating meaningful impact for yourself and others you encounter. Since I have had the ability to travel, and absorb the world around me, and with knowing that many people have not had the chance to travel outside their own countries, I want to provide support for those who are willing and able to make the step to explore the world, especially those who want to engage in local cultures, and provide meaningful impact in the places they choose to travel to. I want to facilitate curious minds to see how other people live, change their own perspective and challenge stereotypes that exist due to a lack of cultural context and knowledge. We live in a globalized world, so learning how to effectively navigate the world with this lens is the key to a successful and harmonious future for our planet!

Credentials
Masters in Race, Ethnicity & Conflict (Trinity College Dublin)
Double BA in Spanish and Human Geography (The University of British Colombia)

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My journey with Cross-Cultural Solutions started in back 2010 as a volunteer, when I completed CCS in Lima! It was one of my first experiences outside of North America, and my …

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Kelly Knowles, Staff Writer
Kelly Knowles
Staff Writer

As someone who has felt the profound personal changes and wonder that can happen when two people from very different circumstances find common ground through intimate conversation, I know that the world could become a better place if more spaces were created for these types of interactions.

As the first person in my family to graduate from high school, I am invested in the educational outcomes of women around the world. I know how education can change a life course, as it has changed mine. As a world traveler with over 60 countries on my list, some of my most meaningful experiences have been on CCS programs, which have led me to all program sites world-wide.

CCS programs I've completed:



Check out my blog posts:

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As someone who has felt the profound personal changes and wonder that can happen when two people from very different circumstances find common ground through intimate …

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