Now on to the core of your experience, your volunteer work. Cross-Cultural Solutions staff and volunteers are working to address critical global issues by providing meaningful volunteer service to communities abroad, and contributing responsibly to local economies.

As a leader in the field of international volunteer travel for 20 years, we know that the best approach to international volunteering—the only approach—is one designed by the community. In every community in which we work, we have long-standing relationships with local organizations who communicate real-time needs and objectives to the CCS team so that our volunteers can work alongside local people and make a sustainable impact.

Why Volunteering is Important in Guatemala

Guatemala Country Director Virginia Burmester, will be guiding your experience with an expert team of local staff members. To kick-start your volunteer work, learn more about the impact you can make in Guatemala:

Want to learn more about the impact of Cross-Cultural Solutions? Check out the CCS 15th Anniversary Impact Assessment, where you can get a sense of how CCS is working toward our shared vision on a global scale.

A Respectful Approach to International Service

What’s your role in-country? International service is most effective when volunteers understand and appreciate their role in the community. Check out this exclusive training for CCS volunteers, provided by Serve Smart.

The Secret to Service
Video 1

Break Down the Wall
Video 2

Know Yourself
Video 3

Video 4

Build Relationships
Video 5

Take Action
Video 6

Effective International Volunteering

You’ve listened to CCS Founder Steve Rosenthal share the CCS story, you’ve heard from Country Director Virginia Burmester who’s excited to welcome you, and you’ve learned about the most respectful approach to service. Now let’s get down to business!

Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about figuring out what to do at your volunteer assignment on your own. You’re joining a community of over 35,000 alumni, the CCS HQ staff, and the CCS Guatemala team with years of experience at being an international volunteer.

So how do you make the most of every moment as a volunteer?

Be Flexible!
Whether you’re in a school that’s decided to take a last-minute field trip, or a daycare where even the best-laid plans can be interrupted by the needs of a child, flexibility in your volunteer assignment is key. Expect the unexpected, go with the flow, and find the humor in every situation!

Take Initiative.
You’re at your volunteer assignment because you’re needed. In many cases, resources and staff are low, so there might not be a lot of time for someone at to put together your game plan for the day. This is your chance to be creative and take initiative. Have a great idea? See someone that needs help? Jump in! That’s why you’re here!

Be Open to Learning.
The local community and organization with which you volunteer understand their own needs best (that’s why the CCS in-country staff is all local). There will be moments in every experience where things are done a bit differently than what you’re used to. So ask the CCS in-country staff, or ask at your volunteer assignment any questions that you may have. This is not only a chance to learn about your assignment and the local people, but about yourself as well.

Volunteer Resources

Now that you have the basics in place, let’s talk about your individual volunteer work assignment. The tools you’ll need to be successful (flexibility, initiative, and learning) are the building blocks across all assignments, but it’s also helpful to dig in deeper and think about creative activities and projects, and to understand the population you’ll be working with. While you’re individual volunteer work assignment is based on the most immediate needs of the local community (this will come just a week or two before your program begins), you can start reviewing this information now, and continue to use it as a resource when you’re in-country.

Volunteering with Kids

Whether you’re helping out in a daycare, teaching in a school, or assisting with a local women’s group where kids are cared for, volunteering with kids puts your creativity, enthusiasm, and energy to work! It’s all about individual attention and engagement, so prepare yourself by learning about the stages of child development, and start brainstorming your project ideas on the CCS Games Galore Pinterest page. (And please, send across your success stories to continue your impact worldwide!)

Stages of Child Development
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Also check out Pinterest’s Ideas & Activities for even more ideas!

Teaching English

Even if your specific work assignment is not in an educational setting, you’ll find that English instruction is a sought-after skill in many areas of volunteer work. So get ready for an ad-hoc English lesson with a women’s group, for fun and educational language-learning games in a daycare, or for invitations to practice English with members of the local community. Your instruction will pay dividends for years to come. Whether it’s helping a student reach secondary education (where classes are often taught in English) or preparing someone for a better career opportunity through language knowledge, the mere fact that you’re a fluent English-speaking volunteer will make a tremendous impact.

To start, learn more about why English education is important, and how teaching English has long-term impacts on individuals and communities.

Next, learn how to you can be most effective (and fun!) while you’re teaching English. While every experience is different, these resources will help you to think about lesson-planning, ages of learners, and fun activities to bring learning to life!

Follow Cross-Cultural Solutions's board Ideas & Activities on Pinterest.
In an education setting? Learn about how lesson planning can be fun!

Volunteering with People with Disabilities

Giving your time, love, and attention to people with disabilities can be a challenging placement, but is also incredibly rewarding! As there is a wide spectrum of people with disabilities, it’s helpful to get a grasp on the social model of disabilities. From there, dig into tons of craft ideas to bring fun and energy into your volunteer work assignment.

The Social Model of Disability
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Do you have some time outdoors at your work assignment? Get green & build skills with fun Green Thumb Enthusiast activities!

Volunteering with the Older and Wiser

One of the most loved volunteer work assignments, volunteering with the elderly, is an amazing opportunity to spend time with seasoned community members. Learn their stories and share your warmth, and your time. There’s so much to do to improve the lives of these community members, so be prepared for an active, inspiring, and altogether amazing experience. Get ready to plan a morning exercise program, work side-by-side on craft projects, and sit down with cards and a ready ear during your time with CCS!

Emotional Transitions of Aging
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Take your volunteering outdoors with Green Thumb Enthusiast activities.

Your Experience

Still looking for ideas to boost your volunteer work assignment? There are tons of ideas out there, so brainstorm with fellow volunteers and the in-country staff. There are also loads of resources and activities online. In fact, you may be surprised with what you find by just googling “craft ideas for elderly”. Still searching or looking for a printable document to take with you? Check out the CCS Placement Guide, with lots of fun ideas to get you started!

Most importantly, be open and have fun! You’re well on your way to an incredible and meaningful volunteer experience.

GO TO: You in San Felipe HSVA

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