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High School Teens Find Inspiration Volunteering Abroad

Two Sixteen-Year-Old High School Students from New York Gain New Perspective on Life as They Return Home from a Volunteer Abroad Adventure in South America through CrossContinental.org.

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Rather than wasting time on video games or the latest celebrity gossip, more and more teens are yearning for more fulfilling pastimes that will expand their life experience and provide opportunities for meaningful cultural exchange. It is also important for high school youth to gain work experience and community service hours to prepare them for adult life after graduation. Planning a volunteer trip abroad allows teens to fulfill all these needs and often makes them realize how fortunate their lives are when compared to life in more impoverished parts of the world. It greatly enhances their cultural intelligence and global awareness. High school teens recently return home and report a meaningful volunteer experience abroad.

Although there are very few affordable volunteer abroad programs available for teenagers in high school, two 16-year-old high school students from New York City, Shamsa Derrick and Hanna Khalil, were fortunate enough to find their ideal volunteer abroad vacation through CrossContinental.org. The high school volunteer abroad programs offered by Cross-Continental Solutions are not only affordable, but also provide a unique cultural immersion experience to those inspired to see the world through another culture’s eyes.

Orphanage Work in Ecuador

While they had a wide variety of work placement options to choose from, Shamsa and Hanna eventually decided that orphanage work in Quito, Ecuador best met their needs. Most children who grow up living in orphanages have led sad lives, often having been rescued from parents suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, and extreme poverty. Some children were even found in trash bins or simply abandoned in the street. The orphanage project that the two volunteers were placed in had approximately 40 children ranging from 1 to 12 years in age.

Staff members at the orphanage, known as “mothers” to the children, handle the day-to-day chores like cooking, cleaning, and laundry. It’s not hard to imagine that 40 children create lots of such “chores” on a daily basis, leaving little time for  games or other meaningful emotional interactions with their wards. Volunteers help fill these social needs and play a critical role in the children’s development. Volunteers help the orphans with homework, play games with them, organize activities, and provide daily care.

When asked if they were happy with their experience, Shamsa said, “Yes. The most rewarding experience was being able to give the hardworking mothers of the home a well deserved break, while making the kids that live there happy.”

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Freedom Balanced with Feeling Safe

This teenage volunteer abroad program provides a local support system based around local coordinators and host families. International volunteers live with a host family which provides daily meals and cultural insights. Additionally, when volunteers need help, they also have access to local coordinators that can be reached for support anytime day or night. This gives the volunteers some freedom to explore during their free time, while having a safety net in case of emergencies, allowing them the opportunity to be independent.

Shamsa would happily recommend the program to others for a variety of reasons including affordability, the amazing experience, and the right balance between safety and freedom. She shares, “This program is much more affordable than the others I considered, and I was able to come back having had many amazing experiences. As a 16 year old girl traveling alone with a friend, I felt that we had the right amount of independence balanced with feeling safe.”

Access valuable resources or plan a life-changing trip at https://www.CrossContinental.org.

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About CrossContinental.org:

Cross-Continental Solutions provides affordable yet flexible international learning programs, including volunteer abroad, intern abroad, cultural immersion, language study, and gap year programs. A large variety of work placement options are available such as: Teaching, Healthcare, Community Development, Business Coaching, HIV work, Care-giving, Orphanage Work, Journalism, Photography, Wildlife, Agriculture, Environmental Protection, Microfinance, Tourism, Marketing, and more. Programs are available at many locations around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By living and working side by side with locals, participants gain an exceptional cross-cultural experience and the opportunity to truly make a difference. For more details, visit CrossContinental.org.

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