A Father Who Helped to Change The World
A Father Who Helped to Change The World
Many families vacation to resorts throughout the world, but how long does that pleasure truly last? When you take a trip with CCS, you and your family will have beautiful memories along with an impact that will last well-beyond your time volunteering.
Erik Werner and his daughter, Ava, are still feeling the weight of the impact that they made abroad last year in Brazil. They were recently inspired to take another trip together to Costa Rica!
We caught up with them to wish Erik a Happy Father’s Day, and thank him for his service. Erik and Ava were happy to let us know that this trip has continued to positively impact his family.
Enjoy the inspirational conversation that we had with this amazing duo that shows how a family can bond through travel and service.
Tell me about your trip with CCS with your daughter. Where did you go?
E: Our family wanted to go somewhere that we never experienced culturally. Costa Rica and Brazil were both places that stood out to us for being family-friendly and rich in culture. We also liked the aspects of having beaches and national parks that we could explore together.
How did did your trip alter your daughter’s perspective of the world?
E: Being in a different culture forced her to leave behind her expectations of the world. What she considers in her everyday life as “needs” was challenged. She suspended her expectations of the world and became more adaptive and reactive.
What was your volunteer site like? How did you work together with your daughter to make an impact?
E: My daughter and I worked together in a combined elderly center and daycare. The daycare was very well-organized and had a set routine that we could easily acclimate to. It was easy to identify the needs, and see where we fit in to help. At our daycare site, there was one teacher catering to the needs of thirty students--you could see how it was truly under-resourced. The volunteers helped to alleviate the burden of the staff and widen the perspective of the students. My daughter and I worked together to address different needs at the site.
What challenges did you come across, and how did you overcome them together?
E: My daughter has celiac but CCS made the trip possible by having a very catered environment. We also worked together to overcome language barriers. Being in a country where English wasn’t the major language really pushed us to learn how to communicate. At our volunteer site, keeping order among the kids was vital. As a team we were able to play on our strengths to assure that the different needs were met at the site.
How has going on a trip like this help to grow your appreciation for your daughters?
E: I truly saw what could come out from her during these trips. Her levels of empathy and altruism were immediately impacted in an incredible way. This desire to help the world was sparked within her. As a parent, it was very fulfilling to see my daughter in an environment where she could think outside herself. It was so significant to see how much she got into the experience, and how fulfilled she became.
How have you seen your daughters change through this experience?
E: All of a sudden, she was more interested in schoolwork and studying international countries and learning about their issues. In some classes, she was able to bring her experiences into the classroom and talk first-hand about what they were learning.
Would you recommend this to any families?
E: With no hesitation--it was truly an incredible experience. The ability to go through a week of volunteering and then a week off to travel- it gives you the right amount of balance. You get to understand a country so much more through service.
Why did you choose CCS for a family trip over any other program?
E: Cross Cultural Solutions was so incredibly safe and offered so much for my family. The home base provided a safe place for my family to be and the opportunity to meet locals. This truly allows families to have the confidence to explore the local community. The organized cultural activities every afternoon are unbeatable.
How has the trip helped you to grow closer to your Dad?
A: The trip brought so many inside jokes and a lot of good times. I realized that I really liked helping other people while we worked together. We got to bond even at our volunteer site. I taught my dad how to paint elderly women’s nails, and we did things together that wouldn't do in the United States.
How has this trip shaped your perspective of the world?
A: This trip helped me realize how big the world truly is. It completely changed my perspective. When I came back from Costa Rica, I wanted to become fluent in another language. I realized how important it is to know how to communicate with other people outside your own language.
How did you work together with your Dad at your volunteer site?
A: At my volunteer site, my Dad would help to take care of the kids and I would bring different ideas and activities. It was always a lot of fun working together.
What did you learn about your Dad from this experience?
A: I learned how resourceful my Dad was when he travels. He taught me so many things about traveling, and I admired him more from this experience.
How did you like Cross Cultural Solutions?
A: I was so glad that we went with CCS, the home-base was amazing. The food was amazing and everything was taken care of! The staff was always so nice and accommodating. The cultural activities were so much fun-- dancing lessons were so interactive and got to understand the culture through dancing.
What did your classmates think of your trip with your Dad?
A: My classmates thought that it was cool that I was going out in the world to experience a different culture. I have a lot of friends that take vacations to nice places, but none of them really volunteer. They appreciated that we went to go and see the country, while making a positive impact.
What did you take away from your experience?
A: Volunteering abroad made me realize that there are so many less fortunate kids in the world. I also realized the value of my impact. The ability to put a smile on another kids face who is less fortunate than me was the best feeling ever. In the places that I went to, the kids live in an entirely different world. I came back so grateful and appreciative for everything I have in the United States .
Ready for a meaningful family bonding experience? [See where you will take the ones you love the most.] (https://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/family-volunteer-abroad)