Get Off the Tourist Path

For an international volunteer, there are few moments more invigorating and fulfilling than those that take you off the tourist path. They offer a rare glimpse into a new country and culture, and rare insights into yourself, as well.

When you volunteer abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions, each day brings new opportunities to get off the tourist path. Here are a few special moments experienced by some of the staff here at Cross-Cultural Solutions during their volunteer abroad adventures:

I came across a temple tucked away from the hustle and bustle and without realizing, wandered into the main ceremony hall. As I walked in, I followed the local example by purchasing a lotus flower and taking a seat. Soon, a monk stood before us, and the room was filled to the brim. Unsure of what to do next, I smiled and nodded at the older woman sitting beside me. She smiled back, and proceeded to guide me through the ceremony demonstrating each individual step. I didn't understand a word of it, and the only Thai that I knew was kob khun ka—thank you. But I was still able to participate in that beautiful moment, and I even made a new friend.
Katie Nichols, Thailand

Volunteer Abroad Thailand

I spent a girl's night sipping Moroccan mint tea with the in-country staff at the CCS Home-Base. We talked about everything, from growing up as a woman in Morocco and dating, to how to wrap a hijab—headscarf. Khadija, the CCS Morocco house manager, made girl's night even more special by carefully decorating our hands and feet with henna. Never in a million years would I have thought that I'd be sitting around my "home" in Morocco, sipping tea and telling stories."
Julie, Morocco

Volunteer Abroad Morocco

Several years ago, Virginia—CCS Guatemala Country Director—befriended a family living in Sacatepequez. This is one of the towns that holds a spectacular kite festival each year in celebration of Day of the Dead. Every year, on the evening before Day of the Dead, this family hosts CCS volunteers for an evening of coffee, tostadas, and conversation. They share stories of the holiday and their own family traditions and rituals honoring their family's ancestors. When I was in Guatemala, members across 3 generations of this family led us around town to watch community members setting up for the big day. The family even gave us one of their beautiful kites as a keepsake.
Kemper, Guatemala

Volunteer Abroad Guatemala

Do you want to experience an off-the-path adventure? Enroll to volunteer abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions today!

Already have one? If you've got an amazing off-the-tourist-path moment that you experienced during your time volunteering abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions, just drop it in the comments section and share it with our community.


Oh my gosh. So many things. First, while I was in Tanzania (Kilimanjaro) Thea Mushi our amazing country director celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary with - basically ANOTHER wedding - which was attended by (as is customary) 400 community members and all of the volunteers. It was an amazing thing to be a part of. I can't imagine connecting in that way without CCS. I also had the opportunity to go to a celebration for our safari guide to honor the 21st day after his son was born. Its customary in Muslim tradition and was pretty special.
Posted at 3:12pm on May 28th, 2013
My favorite off-the-tourist-path moment from my experience with #ccsGhana would have to be my visit to Mempeasam -- the village that the teacher I volunteered with called home. He invited me to meet his friends and family, and to see where he lived. Along with one other volunteer, we all hopped in a taxi and drove out to the beautiful mountainside town. We looked at old photos, explored the village, and were warmly welcomed by my teacher's friends and family. And as proud as he was to have us visit, I think we were about 100x more proud to have been invited to such a warm, lovely community. It may have only been one afternoon, but I'll never forget what it felt like to be a guest in Mempeasam.
Posted at 2:51pm on May 29th, 2013
My off the tourist path moment was falling in love with the baby in Groote Schuur Hospital in South Africa. I broke the barriers of a volunteer and fell in love with this 9 month old. For the 3 weeks I volunteered I spent a good chunk of my time holding gwala, changing his diaper, taking him on walks and giving him the attention he didn't get at home. When it was time to leave, it just so happened that they had found a placement for Gwala and i was returning home.. Everyday I think about this little boy and where he may be. I found this experience to be an off the tourist and out of this world matter.
Posted at 3:22pm on May 29th, 2013
My favorite off-the tourist-path moment in Bagamoyo, Tanzania was visiting the Zawose family. CCS staff brought us out to this family's house and we sat in their courtyard and was served Chai Tea and nuts to snack on. All of a sudden, drums started beating, people starting singing and instruments I had never seen before started being played. Next thing I know, there were about 15 kids dancing and singing. I came to find out that this really large family all lives together and they build traditional Tanzanian instruments and put on shows all over the country. CCS had the inside scoop though, and we were able to hang out and converse with them at their home. It was one of the most amazing insights to Tanzanian culture I could have ever experienced and it would never have happened if I was not volunteering with CCS.
Posted at 11:06am on June 5th, 2013
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