Be Inspired By Our Incredible Team

Our Program Specialist Team is filled with dedicated world travelers that are ready to make an incredible impact in communities throughout the world. They work tirelessly to assure that we are addressing the needs of the communities that we serve throughout the world and that everything runs smoothly-- from enrollment all the way through re-entry back home, and beyond. CCS is proud to have such an amazing group of change-seekers supporting our mission.

Our Program Specialist Team wanted to share with you, what inspires them to continue to give back to the world.

Briana Grim
Program Specialist, Peru and India

Briana Grim Being Awesome

What is your favorite inspirational/travel book?
I have two! The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Each book played a pivotal role in inspiring me to find bigger things in life by giving back.

What is your top travel tip?
Be open-minded to other cultures! While this is often easier said than done, it can change your entire experience while abroad. The greatest thing I’ve learned through my travels is that we are all human and searching for a happy life, we just may go about doing it differently and that’s okay!

What is your favorite volunteer memory?
My favorite memory would be during my time in Ghana at a local school. I prefer to spend time with the children one on one and help them with their assignments. One girl, in particular, was not very confident in her ability to answer the questions. Initially, she looked to me to give her answers (which of course I refused to do!). I spent a week with her, encouraging her and reminding her of how smart and capable she is. By the end of the week, I could see a huge difference in her confidence. It was a huge moment for me, to see that something as small as showing kindness and love to someone else can have such a huge impact.

What is your favorite place that you’ve explored?
That’s tough! I’m very lucky in that I’ve gotten to see a lot of the world, but one of my favorite places has been Dharamsala, India. Not only is it a beautiful representation of Indian culture, but it is home to the Dalai Lama and many Tibetan refugees. If you’re intrigued by the spiritual side of Asia, Dharamsala will capture your heart.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?
“Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures” – Lovelle Drachman

What is your favorite CCS Homebase?
Ghana’s Homebase will always hold a special place in my heart! I have many fond memories of playing card games with other volunteers, opening all the doors to welcome in the beautiful Ghana sunshine and breeze, and afternoon naps on the patio.

Ivory Price
Program Specialist, Costa Rica, Tanzania

Ivory Price

What is your favorite inspirational/travel book?
The Four Agreements

What is your top travel tip?
Explore alone. Whether that be traveling to a new place on your own, breaking off from your group for a few hours, or trying out a new restaurant by yourself. Do it alone. You’re much more likely to meet interesting people, discover a hidden place, and fully take in your surroundings. You can really get the feel for a place plus you make all the plans without consulting anyone I love traveling alone!

What is your favorite volunteer memory?
While volunteering in Malawi, I was explaining to another volunteer the importance of the school we were building. At first I began to recite what I’d been told to say but then I spoke from my heart. I found myself in tears when talking about how all across the world young girls of color are not being given the chance to be educated. That the world does care for these girls and how frustrating that was. How this perpetuates a cycle of poverty that I too was born into. I spoke about how I got lucky that someone took a chance on my education. At that moment I realized how passionate I was about women and girls of color receiving a competitive education.

What is your favorite place that you’ve explored?
Kansai, Japan. Kansai includes Nara, Osaka, and Kyoto. I went alone! It was incredible to see historical culture juxtaposed to modern Japan was amazing. The people, the food, the culture, the sights really left a lasting impact on me.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
-By Marriane Williamson

What is your favorite CCS Homebase?
Cartago, Costa Rica! I love all the handprints and how colorful it is. I like sitting in the hammocks and taking in the Costa Rican air.

Hayden Kemp
Program Specialist, Guatemala and Ghana

Hayden is awesome

What is your favorite inspirational/travel book?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
There are so many inspiring, amazing quotes that come from those pages, and that reach a multitude of cultures and languages!

What is your top travel tip?
Talk to people, ask questions. Talk to people on planes or buses, in cafes or at hotels, in markets. You will open doors to a whole new level of culture and love to experience, making friendships and memories. You can also meet other travelers, with their own missions or dreams to share and learn from -- as well as other travel tips for nearby places!

What is your favorite volunteer memory?
During an alumni weekend program in Guatemala City, we were working near the city dump with high school aged students. We were doing art projects together, as well as teaching English. Due to the social conditions where they live, and many difficult situations these teens had faced in the past, not all were not quick to trust outsiders. One girl specifically made it clear that she had no interest in bonding with us, volunteers.

We spent the whole day there and announced that we would be back the following day as well to continue helping with some manual work around the school if they wanted to also join.
We spent time that evening just relaxing with them, sharing songs, dance, showing off talent, roasting marshmallows around a fire, really just connecting with them.
Before leaving, the director asked if anyone had something they wanted to share. This girl stood up, after a day of ignoring the volunteers' presence, poured out her heart to us in tears, sharing how impacted she was by us being there. She said, "Many people come see us here near the dump, to see the poverty, give money, and make themselves feel better. You are different -- you came to give your time, you have shared your lives with us, you want to know US and who we are really. No one does this. Thank you."

I had the opportunity to continue building a friendship with her for the months to come, and am so grateful for us making me realize how important relationship building is in any situation, and for her opening up her heart to welcome me. I will never forget that first day with her.

What is your favorite place that you’ve explored?
Chefchouen, Morocco.
A beautiful Blue medina with amazing hiking opportunities, friendly families who welcome tourists to come to learn the culture. It was so cool to see a blend of culture --not just French and Arabic languages I had gotten used to in other parts of the country, but I even had the chance to speak Spanish with a carpet-shop owner.
In the Moroccan medinas, every corner you turn and each shop you enter is a new adventure, each garden you see or hill you climb --- I loved it and would love to go back!

What is your favorite inspirational quote?
"Those who tell the stories rule society," -Plato
So important, especially for volunteers who are learning about the lives of people who often have no one to speak up for them, no advocacy, no recognition. We're ambassadors, meant to bring these stories, the positive, inspiring, challenging, all back to our country and share.

What is your favorite CCS Homebase?
The Home-Base in Ho, Ghana in the Volta Region!
I love the many open, patio areas to enjoy fresh air, on beautiful, batik-cushion couches -- or even the hammock, which is perfect for relaxing after washing and hanging clothes to dry. There's coconut trees to enjoy fresh coconut water too!
It's also a short walk away from an awesome smoothie shop!

Danielle Key
Program Specialist, Thailand

Danielle Being Cool

What is your favorite inspirational/travel book?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho always gets me in the mood for a new adventure. It is the one book I refuse to read in English, it sounds so much better in Portuguese.

What is your top travel tip?
Say yes to all invitations! A wedding, Yes! A family dinner where you will be the only English speaker, Yes! A funeral, yes! If you want to truly experience a new culture and make real friendships within the local community, you must leave your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the local culture.

What is your favorite volunteer memory?
I recently spent two weeks in Greece working at the distribution center. Most days were incredibly busy but there was one calm moment amidst the chaos. It happened while working in the ‘shop’ where residents have their monthly appointments to pick out new clothes. A huge family arrived and the kids were running around, screaming, and climbing on shelves when the dad handed me his fussy 2 month old baby. Despite the noise, I was able to rock the baby to sleep while his parents shopped. It was clear that the parents were overwhelmed and this momentary break was greatly appreciated.

What is your favorite place that you’ve explored?
It is so difficult to pick just one but India is very high on my list. I managed to see the Taj Mahal, attend the world famous camel festival in Pushkar, and cruise the backwaters of Kerala in a single trip.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?
It is better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times. -Asian proverb

What is your favorite CCS Homebase?
The Homebase in Greece is fantastic! I love relaxing in the courtyard in the evenings. Also, there are at least 10 gelato shops within walking distance.

Nicholas Ruiz
Gap Year Program Specialist

Nick Traveling The World

What is your favorite inspirational/travel book?
The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country In The World

What is your top travel tip?
Pro travel tip is having ample storage space on your phone for videos, photos and in-country contacts. Save photos to the cloud or upload to your personal computer before you travel. This will insure that you have space to capture all of memories from your trip.

What is your favorite volunteer memory?
Favorite memory is from one of the days we went out to visit seniors in the community; recruiting new members, visiting some that can no longer attend due to physical or mental conditions and even some members that the center hadn’t seen in awhile. Little did I know that this was going to be the day that I will always carry with me the rest of my life. One of the last homes we visited had to be no bigger than my bedroom back home. It was small but she was surrounded by what was important to her. She no longer had a family, lived on very little and depended on the center in many ways. I had the biggest hug and smile of the week after she opened the door and that can never be replaced. In that moment, I realize that some things are just not as important as I once thought they were and being in her presences and visiting for those few moments completely made her day.

What is your favorite place that you’ve explored?
I was able to spend an amazing three weeks in Guatemala and was able to explore Guatemala City, Antiqua, Lake Atitlan and Semuc Champey. I had an incredible time from exploring through caves and swimming through natural pools at Semuc Champey being able to watch Easter celebration in the streets of Antiqua. By far such an amazing experience.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?
The mind is everything. What you think you become. –Buddha

What is your favorite CCS Homebase?
Cartago, Costa Rica! Bernedita makes the most amazing meals and the staff truly becomes your second family.

Are you inspired by our incredible team? Contact us to speak to one of our Program Specialists!

Comments

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I spent time in Costa Rica with the most wonderful people❤️. I miss all of you and think of you so often. Siempre van a estar en mi corazon ❤️❤️❤️❤️
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