VOLUNTEER ABROAD

How I went from backpacker, to international volunteer

Here's something that just about all of my friends and family know about me: I'm a backpacker. I love waking up in the morning, pointing to a spot on the map, hopping on a bus and ending up somewhere new. In fact, I've backpacked through 42 countries and counting. When I had the opportunity to volunteer in Ghana with Cross-Cultural Solutions in November of 2013, I could hardly believe that I'd be making my very first trip to the African continent.

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On my 65th birthday, I became an international volunteer

For my very first Cross-Cultural Solutions experience, I was in Tanzania celebrating my 65th birthday. I spent several weeks teaching at a local juvenile detention center. It was the hardest, and most wonderful thing I've ever done. I arrived in Moshi thinking that I would be teaching English to the boys at the center, and nothing more. But what an awakening! And just like any other international volunteer will tell you, I'm sure I learned more from those boys than they learned from me.

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Volunteer in Africa: The ultimate study abroad

I began studying Swahili during my first year at Hampshire College. I loved learning a new language and studying East African culture. So when I began my third year of school, I decided to volunteer in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania with Cross-Cultural Solutions as an independent study. CCS provided me with the perfect foundation to create a month-long program while earning academic credit.

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Volunteering in Thailand: Why cultural activities matter

When deciding on an international volunteer program, one of the main things that appealed to me about Cross-Cultural Solutions was the idea of the "full experience." When I saw that CCS placed equal importance on volunteering, educational activities, and opportunities for organic cultural exchange, I knew I had found my adventure. And while I knew that I wanted an educational volunteer experience, and I couldn't wait to learn about Thai culture, what I didn't realize was that these cultural activities are more than just educational. CCS includes them in the volunteer experience because they are a key ingredient in impactful volunteer work. Allow me to explain.

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Is Cross-Cultural Solutions right for you?

So you've decided that you need a change of pace. Maybe you have a week's worth of vacation days to use before the end of the year, or perhaps you're in a moment of transition and have decided that a 12-week adventure is exactly what you need to shake things up a bit. But either way, one thing is for sure: you're looking for an experience that will change everything. But with all of the options out there—all of the different ways in which you can choose to explore the world—how can you ensure that you're choosing the best international experience for you?

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