September 26, 2010

Volunteer Abroad Profile: Cross Cultural Solutions

Today I’m going to briefly highlight one of the “big dogs” of overseas volunteering, Cross Cultural Solutions.

This large volunteer placement organization is going to pop up again and again through any search for “overseas volunteering” or “volunteer abroad” that you might type into your search engine. They cover five continents (North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Europe) and for the past 15 years, more than 25,000 volunteers have participated in their programs.

WHO are they?

Cross Cultural Solutions is a large US-based volunteer placement organization, providing volunteer services in 12 countries around the world. Cross Cultural Solutions volunteers complete both short and long-term projects, and the large number of volunteers that the program attracts provide a constant stream of volunteers to help with the community with a sustainable workforce.

WHAT do they want you to do?

Volunteer placements through Cross Cultural Solutions focus primarily on care-giving, health care, teaching and community development. Their community development placements give those with some professional experience the opportunity to apply them to real-world problems, helping to design and implement women’s empowerment programs, creating websites for local organizations and small businesses or even teaching simple office skills to young workers.

WHEN might you go?

Because CCS provides both short and long-term (1 week to 12 weeks), they accept applications year round. However, they main focus appears to be alternative spring, summer and winter breaks for college students and “career breaks” for graduates. Groups also have the option of booking trips through Cross Cultural solutions. Check the CCS website for a list of start dates for the different volunteer work types and locations.

WHY are they awesome?

Cross Cultural Solutions prides itself on their in-country support for volunteers. In fact, that’s where the majority of your volunteer fees are going. They have staff on the ground throughout the year, working with local NGOs to make sure that the volunteer placement process is smooth and doesn’t cause any problems for the organization. They are also committed to keeping volunteers safe, and becoming embedded in the communities with which they work.

HOW can you apply?

The application is available online on the Cross Cultural Solutions website, but keep in mind that to enroll you must pay a non-refundable deposit of ~$275.

If you have personal experience with CCS and would like to share your thoughts about the program, please feel free to leave a comment!

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