Volunteering with CCS: The ultimate icebreaker

When I first signed up to volunteer abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I knew that things were about to change for me, but I really had no idea just how much the experience would impact my life. I was thinking about the service, the adventure, the amazing photos that I would take. It hadn't even crossed my mind that I would be making friends that would last a lifetime. But that's just what happened. And not just once or twice. It happened on every one of my CCS volunteer experiences.

At the CCS Home-Base, you'll live with fellow volunteers who have traveled from around the world to do the exact same program as you. Instant common ground! So although you're all coming from different places and different walks of life, you're entering a very unique situation where you know that you likely have a few (very important) things in common. You're all interested in exploring the world and making a difference, you chose the same volunteer destination, and you opted to share the adventure with a group of fellow CCS volunteers.

After several meals together, you'll find yourself sharing stories that even your closest friends back home haven't heard and you will know the names of everyone's pets and siblings by the end of day three. Honestly, it's hard to explain exactly how and why this happens, but I have a few theories:

Theory #1: The in-country teams have ESP. How else can you explain the fact that they always pick the perfect roommates for you?! Here are some of my most unforgettable roommate memories from in-country:

  1. The power went out one night in Tanzania so we all headed to bed early. But back in our room, the topic of Disney movies came up and within minutes, the four of us were singing Colors of the Wind and laughing hysterically the entire time. Good times.

  2. During another midnight conversation, this time in Costa Rica, it was discovered that one of my roommates spun fire poi—WHAT? The next night we promptly went down to the local park and learned a new skill. We were the talk of the town!

Theory #2: Less technology leads to creativity. Today, we are all glued to our phones and computers and sometimes this can take away from actual social interaction. Don't worry, I'm including myself in this category: #guiltyinstagrammer. But in-country, where wifi may be limited, you'll have a chance to go back to the basics. Favorite wifi-free moments?

  1. Playing "extreme spoons" in Ghana. For those of you that have played regular spoons, it's time to kick it up a notch.

  2. Learning "Phase 10" in Tanzania. Every evening after dinner, five of us would sit around the kitchen table with one of the staff members and play this card game for hours. I have now taken it with me to every CCS destination that I've volunteered in and I've learned more about my fellow volunteers over a game of cards than I ever thought possible.

Theory #3: You are building a global network. Some of my closest friends today are people I met in-country. Here are some incredible post-CCS moments that I've shared with my new friends:

  1. Signing my first lease in NYC with a girl I volunteered with in Kilimanjaro. And I just attended her wedding where I got to catch up with the rest of her family who I also met on my program!

  2. Booking a flight to Nevada where I will be getting together with one of my closest friends that I met in Costa Rica who is flying all the way from London.

  3. Planning a reunion with my fellow volunteers that I met in Ghana.

I will be forever thankful to CCS for the friendships I have made over the past five years. I wouldn't be the person I am today without each and every one of them. Sign up for a program today to start your global family!


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