Humanitarian work abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions

Cross-Cultural Solutions is a mission-driven organization, and one of our core values—something connected to everything we do, and every decision that we make—is Shared Humanity.

As a proud CCS alumnus, I can say from experience that every moment abroad with CCS involves a chance to connect with the people around you. Even when you’re not busy volunteering, everything you do during your time in-country with CCS helps to build bridges of understanding. And this is a very intentional part of the CCS Experience. Your time abroad is inherently part of a larger-scale humanitarian effort. So what do I mean by humanitarian effort? Allow me to explain.

When we hear about “humanitarian work,” many of us immediately think of a disaster, crisis, or emergency. But humanitarian work is so much more than lending a hand only in times of duress—it is our active participation in the welfare and happiness of others. And this is precisely what CCS volunteers do—working side-by-side with others and learning, sharing, and caring about those around us. As a volunteer with CCS, you join a community. You meet and interact with kids, the elderly, teachers, parents, neighbors, and community leaders on a daily basis. And as you share your culture, and they open up to you, you’ll find that everyone is working together to effect positive change in the neighborhood.

“We are all in this together”—that is what CCS means by Shared Humanity. And that’s what makes your volunteer work humanitarian at the most basic level.

When I was in volunteering in South Africa, I learned that this shared humanity concept had a different name—Ubuntu. Desmond Tutu, one of my personal heroes, explains by saying this:

“Ubuntu speaks to the very essence of being human. It is to say, ‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life. We say, ‘A person is a person through other persons’.”

The word humanitarian is derived from combining humanity with the suffix -arian, meaning “believer in” or “advocate of.” Volunteering with CCS has shown me the power of Ubuntu, and it has made me a believer in our shared humanity. It has made me a humanitarian.

This is an incredibly powerful thing.


Thank you so much for this insight! Ubuntu is an amazing way of describing a beautiful thing. I will absolutely remember this word.
Posted at 11:56am on April 23rd, 2014
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