When I arrived at the Cross-Cultural Solutions Home-Base in Dharamsala, India last month, I instantly felt at home. The CCS Dharamsala team introduced themselves and shared a bit of their respective stories as we all sipped chai tea in the cozy living room. After we finished our tea, introductions, and a quick Home-Base tour, I went into the bedroom that I'd be sharing with a fellow volunteer and began to unpack and settle in. It's amazing to think back and remember how in just 3 short weeks, every part of it felt like home.
In the Fall of 2011, my daughter decided to volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions in Guatemala. She invited me to accompany her, and though I was hesitant at first, she wouldn't take no for an answer. She convinced me that volunteering in Guatemala would be a wonderful experience. She then said that her two grown children—my eldest grandchildren—were also going.
In December 2011, I volunteered in Guatemala with my family: mom, brother, and grandma. We had volunteered as a family with Cross-Cultural Solutions twice before in Tanzania, but this was the first time that grandma was coming along for the adventure.
In the fall of 2009, I was about to return to college after taking several years off to travel. I was at a pretty major crossroads in my life and not entirely sure about what I wanted to study, or what I wanted to do once I earned my degree. So before returning to school in the fall, I decided to go on one last international adventure. And I wanted this one to be something completely different from anything I had ever done before. That's how I made the decision to volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions in Bagamoyo, Tanzania for 3 weeks.
This time last year, after a 14-hour direct flight, I landed in India. The first person that I met at the airport was the CCS driver, Sunil. His smile and warm welcome were exactly what I needed after such a long flight! He eagerly greeted me, loaded me (and my bags) into the air-conditioned van, and we were off! I felt a rush of excitement as I stared out of the van window in wonderment: markets, farm animals, and busy people on the streets. India's beautiful chaos is something that I've tried to describe a million times to a million people, but you really just need to see it for yourself.
Did you know that just about everyone who works at Cross-Cultural Solutions' HQ is a former volunteer? So when you call and ask a question, we're not reading from a manual. Instead, we're speaking from the heart about our own experience. We're sharing why, when we were in your shoes and doing our own research, we picked CCS.
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.
The Seven Wonders of the World are some of the most sought-after travel experiences around, and lucky for you, Cross-Cultural Solutions offers volunteer opportunities within traveling distance of some of these epic sites. So if you're trying to figure out just where to kick off your life of international exploration and volunteer travel, why not start with one of these.
When I received my volunteer assignment—working in an elementary school in Costa Rica—I didn't quite know what to expect. The school consisted of 3 buildings perched on the upper slopes of a valley with a perfect view down through the clouds and over Cartago.
Volunteering with Cross-Cultural Solutions is an incredibly effective way to take a step back and evaluate the path you've chosen. Whether you're interested in taking a career break abroad, you're a recent grad ready to experience the life of an international volunteer, or you're just trying to figure out your next big move, the CCS experience offers you an opportunity to shake things up, and change everything.