Shut Up and Listen! (What Every International Volunteer Needs to Hear)

Watch now: Want to Help Someone? Shut up and Listen!

Ernesto Sirolli started doing aid work in Africa in the 1970's—and quickly realized how ineffective it was. In a funny and impassioned TED talk, he suggests the first step is to listen to the people you're trying to help, rather than assume what they need.

We believe that local people are the experts. As a leader in the field since 1995, we at Cross-Cultural Solutions know the only responsible approach to international volunteer work is one designed by the community.

This is what community-driven volunteer work looks like:

1. Sustainable volunteer projects

We have built long-standing relationships with local organizations who communicate real-time objectives to the CCS team. CCS volunteers improve staff morale and effectiveness where they work by bringing energy and reducing the workload. As a volunteer with CCS, you become another link in a chain of volunteers that have been part of the community over the years.


2. Expert in-country leadership

Our CCS in-country teams are made up entirely of local people who truly understand the needs of their own communities and who can provide expert guidance during your journey. Each team is led by a Country Director who's an expert in the field of international development with many years of experience with various international organizations.


3. Authentic cultural immersion

As a CCS volunteer, you become part of the community: You interact with kids, the elderly, teachers, parents, neighbors, and community leaders on a daily basis. We also provide Cultural & Learning Activities to give you an inside perspective of the culture. You practice the language, discuss important social issues with guest speakers, learn how to cook your favorite dishes, and participate in local activities and events.

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