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Volunteer Placement Organization: Cross Cultural Solutions

By Kate | Permalink | 25 comments | February 10th, 2007 | Trackback

Cross Cultural Solutions provides short-term volunteer placements for international participants; “one of the primary goals of the organization [is] to follow the lead of local organizers and provide them a helping hand without imposing outside ideas.”

Cross Cultural Solutions got started after founder Steve Rosenthal spent a week with a friend in the Peace Corps in Kenya during a much longer multi-country trip. There he felt he had a brief chance to be more than a traveler – he felt a part of the community, working on a project with social impact. Upon his return to the US, and after sharing and reflecting on this experience, he decided to see if he could organize this type of experience for others. In this way, Cross Cultural Solutions was born.

“As an international volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions, you’re making a meaningful contribution, working side-by-side with local people and sharing in the goals of a community that warmly welcomes you. You’re experiencing another culture like never before and really getting to know its people.

You’ll gain new perspectives and insight into the culture and yourself. It’s an exciting and personally inspiring experience, and you’ll develop memories that will be with you forever.”

You can choose from 12 countries: Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Thailand and either intern, volunteer, or have a one-week “insight abroad” in any of a selection of cities.

You can volunteer with any number of partner organizations which are community-led initiatives, generally for two to twelve weeks in fields such as: orphanages and childcare centers, schools, health clinics and hospitals, homes for the elderly, centers for people with disabilities, and other community organizations.

The cost ranges from $2489 for two weeks, plus $272 for each additional week (12 weeks comes to $5200). You can also find an explanation of the fees and a guide with tips on how to fundraise for your participation in a Cross Cultural Solutions project.


kk | December 28th, 2007 at 8:38 pm
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(Comment deleted by moderator)

Kate | January 2nd, 2008 at 4:39 pm
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Hmmm…I don’t see anything on Google news, and the Cross Cultural Solutions web page still has programs in India.

Where did you hear this information? Do you have any links to confirm it?

Some people get very angry that an organization would charge money to volunteer. I think it’s fine to choose not to use that organization, and to go ahead and arrange your own volunteer work independently using a site such as this one. In fact, that’s part of the point of the Volunteer Logue. But when you pay you are basically paying for a service - and non-profit doesn’t mean “free”.

Most of us don’t have unlimited time to orient foreigners with good intentions who don’t speak our language to help us do our jobs … why should we expect others to?

Matthew | May 14th, 2008 at 6:12 pm
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Is Cross-Cultural Solutions a scam? I have signed up to go to India for 11 weeks in the fall, and its costing $5000. I know this is probably a rip-off compared to other organizations, but I just want to know from someone who is familiar with CCS: is it a legitimate organization that does indeed set up volunteer work with communities in India? Is there anything they lie about on their website?

Mary Lynn | May 29th, 2008 at 8:12 am
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I am in the process of studying Cross Cultural Solutions and would like to sign up to do this project. I, too, would like to know if there is anyone out there who has done this and could give me honest feedback. I’m very excited about doing it and I totally understand the reason for the fees charged (although it is pretty high). But just trusting the brochure that CCS sends out seems a bit naive.

Stephanie | July 26th, 2008 at 9:40 am
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Matthew; i dont see how that is a scam. Its over 2400 for the 1st 2 weeks to go then a little over $200 a week for every week after that. thats about 5k.

Karla H. | July 27th, 2008 at 10:40 pm
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I volunteered in Costa Rica and Tanzania with Cross-Cultural Solutions and both experiences were the best of my life. CCS is extremely well organized and their staff is amazing. I never would have been able to have set up such an amazing volunteer work on my own. They have amazing relationships with the places that the volunteers work. I also volunteered with other groups and their is no comparison.

gel | August 1st, 2008 at 6:58 am
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am interested also in org and any comments on the russia experience,

Meredith A. | October 7th, 2008 at 6:31 am
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I volunteered in Brazil with Cross-Cultural Solutions in May 2007 for 2 weeks and even though it sounds silly because it was such a short time, it was a really rewarding experience. I had some Portuguese and Spanish language background already, so that was really helpful, but there were others there who didn’t speak Portuguese and they also loved it.

I taught English to adults at a local NGO. The students were lower-middle class adults who wanted to learn basic conversational English to improve their job opportunities, particularly in tourism and customer service. I really learned a lot from the experience. Even though I don’t want to be a teacher as a career, I now know I can do it and that just sharing my knowledge of English with people can make a difference.

I highly recommend the CCS program because it’s a great way to learn about the culture as well as be of service. But if you want to speak with other volunteers who have gone on their programs they just started a community site for the volunteers —

Good luck with your decision!

Alan | October 17th, 2008 at 7:09 am
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Similar to others on this site, I\’m considering using CCS to volunteer next spring in South America. While I have no issue with paying a higher premium for a company to take care of the logistics (not much time on my hands as an attorney), my concern is the age-group that CCS caters to. I am 30 years old and while I am looking forward to doing some overseas volunteering, I would prefer not to be working with volunteers that are in their lower 20\’s. I think it\’s great to have programs that are geared towards college students and younger people, but I would prefer to travel with people who have similar interests. Any info would be great. I\’m attending an information session near UPENN (hence my concern of the age group) next week, but figured the more info I can gather, the better.

Boipelo | October 23rd, 2008 at 12:30 am
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i want to enroll with CCS organization but there was no option for Botswana(country.)
i want to volunteer for Costa Rica in January 2009. i tried to contact them to no avail. any one can assist me? im in Africa.

Simmone | November 10th, 2008 at 12:44 am
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We are in our late 30s with 3 children ranging from 8 downwards. We are keen to get involved but have to wait a couple of years as the children are too young (& we don’t have the support at home).

We were curious as to the validity of the org & the programs so it’s great to read some info from people who have actually done it!

Keen to see if there have been many families to complete a voluteer program and how it went…

Jane Johnson | December 10th, 2008 at 5:27 am
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I volunteered for CCS with my young son (aged 8) last Christmas (Dec 2007) when we spent 3 weeks in Rabat, Morocco. It was indeed very expensive but I can honestly report that we were totally supported both before, during and on our return from the trip. It was a worthwhile experience and I totally recommend it to anyone. The staff at CCS were excellent, answered all my questions and made sure I had everything I needed. I really did feel that I was able to make a significant contribution to the programme and, yes I know it sounds corny, I was able to impact the lives of the people there in a positive way. They are indeed genuine, hardworking and, in my experience have the ineterests of both volunteers and recipients at the heart of their organization.

Chris V | December 10th, 2008 at 7:11 am
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@Simmone - I recently participated in a Cross Cultural Solutions trip to Costa Rica (Cartago) with my wife and 2 boys, 7 and 9. What an experience! CCS did a fantastic job making us feel comfortable and created a family like environment.

Like any organization, the local leadership is key too and Jose Hernandez is a remarkable person (as was every other staff member!). He went out of his way to give my kids (and the other family there with us who had 4 girls ranging in age from 7 - 16) an opportunity to participate and feel included in discussions (or even better to NOT participate when they couldn’t sit still for something).

Traveling with a family is stressful enough so having a company like CCS there to back you up in case someone is sick or if something is not right at your volunteer placement - is the only way to go. Sure it costs a bit more, but the cost makes the trip more likely to be an experience your kids will talk about for the rest of their lives!

We kept a blog of our experience, which we still go back to to remember different parts of our experience (you’ll have to go back a little in the blog as it includes vacation time in there too), it is here: (use the Blog archive feature to the right to jump around).

Hope that helps with your decision making process! I’m willing to share more if you need it, just let me know.

Katie | September 30th, 2010 at 7:05 am
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I think it\’s silly that people are complaining about the price. SERIOUSLY? Has anyone on here complaining about the price ever been to Europe and know how much it actually costs for everything? Part of the reason I\’m using CCS is because of the low budget. All your meals plus room and board. That\’s a fair price. It really is. Unless you plan on doing 11 countries in 11 months which you live on as little as 14k for the duration, they live in tents and on the ground for 99% of their trip. CCS actually provides safe wonderful housing.

Do your research before you complain about the price…. it\’s not cheap to go anywhere. You get what you pay for- that saying is tride and true!

Daniel | November 29th, 2010 at 4:21 pm
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You really need to do your research before you pay thousands of dollars to volunteer for one or two weeks. This is plainly ridiculous; why would anyone pay that much to volunteer?

There are plenty of very reputable organizations out there that charge much less per month to nothing per month to volunteer overseas and take care of most, if not all, your living expenses. You’ll need to do a little digging on various websites and blogs, but these organizations do exist. I am not sure if I am allowed to link to other sites to give more information, so I won’t, but if you are that serious about volunteering, then you should be equally serious about your research before you go and volunteer.

Cross Cultural Solutions isn’t a scam in the traditional sense, but you’re vastly overpaying. And moreover, the money you give to CCS is NOT going to the organizations on the ground or the people in need; it is going to line the pockets of this “non-profit”. Have you ever seen their NYC office? It is huge and swanky and just plain ridiculous. That’s where your money is going.

Be smart. Research.

Timothy | December 2nd, 2010 at 11:47 am
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I used CCS a couple years back for a month in Costa Rica. While it was expensive, the experience was worthwhile. I don’t think that CCS is necessarily lining its pockets as was suggested. I did in fact visit their NY office which is not in the city but in New Rochelle and not much to look at. It’s true the money does not go to the orgs on the ground but to admin costs and to supplement some of the locations that are more expensive to manage. While I think they could work on making better use of the money, I recommend this route for someone who does not know much about where they are traveling to, desires safety and comfort, and particularly for people without language skills.

LDP | December 13th, 2010 at 3:12 am
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I just signed up for a CCS trip and I have no qualms about the money. It isn\’t always safe to be a solo female American traveler these days, so the fact that a driver waits for me at the airport and I have a safe place to stay is worth it. Sure, I could go on my own, stay at the Hilton and then never really learn anything about the culture. I don\’t want that. This is, in my opinion, a good balance for people who work full time and can\’t do the \

LDP | December 13th, 2010 at 3:14 am
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traditional one year volunteering thing. Sorry, this was broken up into two posts for some reason. If this works out, I plan to hit all the countries on their site. This also makes my husband feel much better about my travels. He gets many security briefs in his job and he worries about me going to every place on the site if I am going alone, but now his mind is at ease and that is worth every penny.

Lauren H. | January 3rd, 2011 at 11:09 pm
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i just want to know if you have to be in the same state that CCS is located in to volunteer there, because i live in the west coast and i am really really interested in doing this program.

victoria carlson | February 8th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
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Look at it from this perspective - I am going abroad to Russia just to study and it is costing me over $5,000 for 5 weeks - so it seems about right. They need to take into account travel, food, travelers insurance, etc. All of that is pretty hefty!

Youths Organization for International Volunteers | February 25th, 2011 at 2:24 am
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P.O BOX 16298 ,

Dear Sir/Madam,


Youths Organization is a non governmental, non partisan and non profit making organization.
Its goal is to offer services to the Kenyan community, through volunteering, that target and address the most serious issues affecting our community: HIV/AIDS, healthcare and nutrition, environmental conservation, child rights (including the rights of orphans, street children and other vulnerable children), gender based violence, sustainable agriculture, home based care, teaching and training amongst others.

Youths Organization has been established with the following key focuses in mind:

a) To work with Kenyan and international volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life.

b) To reduce the dependency syndrome and help Kenyans become self-sufficient.

c) To give volunteers a rewarding volunteer experience, working on the ground, with people in need.

d) To utilize volunteers to the best of their potential.

e) To ensure that our community, government, private sector, public sector, churches, other volunteer organizations and all of our volunteers world wide can work together in a collaborative, positive and open environment with a view to improving living standards in Kenya.

It is in response to the above need that we write requesting for partnership in placing volunteers in our organization so that we can deliver the targeted social services to the community in an efficient manner. Please visit our website at to help you understand more on what we do.
We look forward to partnering more opportunities with you.

Kindly send us the requirements to partnering with you for the good of the community we serve.

Yours Truly,

Peter Kamau

Rachel | June 30th, 2011 at 8:27 am
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The reason CCS spends money on admin, safe housing etc and not giving it to the organisations on the ground is that they want to avoid creating a monetary dependency between CCS and said organisations; they feel there are better ways to encourage development and I agree.

Kira | July 18th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
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I’m planning on signing up for the teen program with a few of my friends. Does anyone know if this program is good for people who are traveling in groups with friends? Also with airlines will they be able to pick us up where we fly in or do we have to make it to the base camp by yourself? I just think since we are only going to be 15 or 16 running around Guatemala without an adult would not be a good idea.

Dania | July 28th, 2011 at 7:51 pm
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Cross Cultural Solutions is an excellent program for teenagers. You fee pays for transportation to and from the airport and your work-site. And it pays for your room and board. They hire exemplary people to take of the volunteers and for the price you are receiving superior accommodations. The fee also includes some cultural/anthropological tours with guide. I was a volunteer in 2002 and I have been referring students to them since that time.

Suzanne | October 26th, 2011 at 11:32 am
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Cross Cultural Solutions is indeed an excellent program for teenagers traveling in a group, and don’t worry, they will pick you up and drop you off at the airport. I volunteered with them this past summer (Aug 2011), and thus can state that they are concerned about safety and making sure that you are comfortable with your volunteer placement, your accommodations, and your adjustment to a new culture. I had an amazing time and highly recommend them.

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