Meet Katie: CCS alum and member of the team
Before traveling abroad, I had almost no idea the rest of the world existed. It seemed like everything I saw in the news or read about in books was almost like fiction. I mean, I knew these places existed, but I just didn't realize that I could actually go there, and how much there was to learn in each new place. And then, in 2008, I took my very first international trip to study abroad in Rome.
Before I studied in Rome, I was just a small town girl who had no idea that I had the entire world at my fingertips. And after that first taste of what was out there, I knew that for my next adventure I wanted to go big. I wanted to experience something completely different and step as far out of my comfort zone as possible. I wanted the experience to be more about what I was giving from my heart than what I was getting. And then I found Cross-Cultural Solutions Ghana.
My volunteer experience in Ghana was life-changing. It turned my entire world upside-down in the best way imaginable. After volunteering for four weeks with Ghanaian students, everything changed. I had always had a strong passion for people so I thought I had a future in hospitality management, but after my volunteer experience with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I yearned for more than just a hotel job. I wanted to make a difference. So when I returned home from Ghana, I changed my area of study to sustainable tourism, having realized that one of the best ways to contribute to changing the world was to inspire and encourage others to have their own journey of self-discovery and global impact.
Volunteering abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions completely changed my outlook on everything. I saw people who had overcome so much adversity and managed to still accomplish so much in life. It really made me question my own views and values. It showed me that the small things in life are what make the biggest difference: sharing, learning, exchange, friendship, family, happiness. And it taught me that I could do absolutely anything. Volunteering with CCS was the best decision I have ever made and it's hard to believe that I was once that small town girl. Because now, my family refers to me as "the brave one." So thank you, CCS, for showing me that I can change everything.