From teaching English to the sweetest students in a Thai school, to exploring the jungles of Asia with elephants, CCS Thailand fostered the most incredible experience for Ohio State University’s Kim Hosbach.
Here's something that just about all of my friends and family know about me: I'm a backpacker. I love waking up in the morning, pointing to a spot on the map, hopping on a bus and ending up somewhere new. In fact, I've backpacked through 42 countries and counting. When I had the opportunity to volunteer in Ghana with Cross-Cultural Solutions in November of 2013, I could hardly believe that I'd be making my very first trip to the African continent.
So you've decided that you need a change of pace. Maybe you have a week's worth of vacation days to use before the end of the year, or perhaps you're in a moment of transition and have decided that a 12-week adventure is exactly what you need to shake things up a bit. But either way, one thing is for sure: you're looking for an experience that will change everything. But with all of the options out there—all of the different ways in which you can choose to explore the world—how can you ensure that you're choosing the best international experience for you?
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.
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.
Lately, we've been hearing from folks who want to know what we think is the perfect program length for an international volunteer experience with Cross-Cultural Solutions. You know, the international volunteering "sweet spot." After checking in with our alums, in-country teams, and international volunteer experts here at CCS HQ, we've got the lowdown on how it feels to be a volunteer for 1 week, 2, 3, all the way up to 12!
For those of you who are wondering how we track and analyze the impact of our volunteers and all of their hard work, we'd like to introduce you to our favorite numbers guy here at Cross-Cultural Solutions. Meet Stephen Thompson, the Senior Manager of Program Quality and Evaluation.
First times can be scary. Trying something new, taking a chance, or tiptoeing outside of your comfort zone is no small feat. But as long as your heart is in the right place, first times tend to have a big payoff...