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Monica Dispatch

Cross Cultural Solutions
May 31, 2000

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Jodie buys mangoes outside CCS's Hauz Khas flat
Finally, I arrive in Delhi! And it's a hot, dusty, sweaty Tuesday. But, I don't let the heat get me down as I am on my way to the suburban neighborhood of Hauz Khas, to the Cross Cultural Solutions office. Bela Singh, our CCS contact, greets me cheerfully, and her smiles, tea and biscuits provide the heartiest welcome I've received in a long time. Mrs. Singh is busily preparing for a new batch of participants who come and volunteer in India for a three-week program. I tag along for a few days with my new pal Jodie, who cam all the way from Seattle, Washington.

Mrs. Singh and the entire Cross Cultural Solutions India office provide a tremendous amount of support to CCS volunteers. They treat Andrew and me as their guests and we stay for a few nights' room and board at their Hauz Khas apartment. TIP: If you're considering volunteering with CCS India -- the three meals a day that local cooks prepare here are simply DELICIOUS! That's just an added incentive.

Jodie, who has an opportunity to research various short-term volunteer organizations around the world, says she agrees with "CCS' general philosophy towards volunteerism. This philosophy is two-way communication rather than one side simply giving to another." Jodie appreciates CCS's process of "dismantling stereotypes and opening up true dialogue between nations -- one person at a time."

To learn more about Cross Cultural Solutions and how to get involved, visit their website:

CCS volunteers predominantly come from North America. CCS does not require any particular skills; however, CCS does expect an enthusiastic attitude, a responsible manner, and a sensitive outlook to the host culture. Volunteers range in age from early 20's to late 70's. They participate in diverse positions, according to their interests and the community's needs.

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Jodie (left) and some Canadian volunteers we meet at Mother Teresa's clinic.
CCS first provides an orientation to the challenges of volunteering in India. For Jodie and me, this orientation includes visits to urban NGOs like Amar Jyoti and Mother Teresa's clinics in Old Delhi. While at the clinic, we meet yet another group of volunteers who've arrived on their own, from Canada. Many individuals feel compelled to come to a foreign country to lend their skills, time, and energy, either for pay or as a volunteer. There are formal programs, like CCS, as well as many informal options. The internet provides excellent resources to learn more.

One of Jodie's tasks is to create a pamphlet about waste disposal, especially plastic waste such as bags and bottles. On Thursday, May 11, 2000, India's population reached 1 billion. With 6 billion people now alive in the world, we all must take steps to reduce the amount of non-biodegradable waste we discard. Plastic containers do not break down in the environment like other containers made by other methods such as natural fibers and leaves. Please encourage recycling in your home, school and community, and think of ways to reduce or reuse your stuff.

Listen to Jodie's CCS experience in her own words:

"I tried to combine the projects by using my students as a base for community knowledge and support of the trash clean-up efforts going on in Rajgarh. One way in which I did this was by providing my 27 graphic arts students (6 in one class and 21 in another) with cloth with which they were to make shopping bags. This was an effort to reduce the amount of plastic bags given out in the town as there is no recycling process available at the time (things are in the works -- perhaps indefinitely). The students were then supposed to decorate and paint the bags with a general theme of environmental issues. The students in these schools are not given a whole lot of opportunity nor encouragement to be creative. But, the obvious pride and energy that they put forth into the creation of these bags was wonderful. And I was given the opportunity to teach environmental activism through art -- what a treat."

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Meeting locals at the famous Taj Mahal
After orientation, the entire CCS group heads north to the Himalayan foothills, where they continue with community development programs and other cultural learning activities. "They offer programs in Peru and Ghana as well," says Jodie, but she chose India "because of the Himalayan Program. I liked the idea of working in a more rural setting - and I was not disappointed." CCS volunteers may do a variety of tasks. For example, during Jodie's time in the rural village of Rajgarh, she teaches graphic arts and dance. She also creates an educational pamphlet about waste disposal. After the three-week stay, Jodie's overall impression of the CCS program is satisfaction. "Not to mention the allure and opportunity to travel to India... who could resist it?" she adds.

incentive - something used to motivate
NGOs - non-governmental organizations
predominantly - primarily
suburban - relating to life in the residential areas.
urban - relating to life in the city
rural - relating to life in the country


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

Andrew - No Ordinary Teenager - An Interview With The Karmapa
Jasmine - Aravinda Eye Hospital - Helping India See The Light!
Kavitha - The Road to Enlightenment is Filled with Many Questions
Monica - Independence in India: A Play in Three Acts

Relevant Links: To learn more about Cross Cultural Solutions and how to get involved, visit their website:

To learn more about recycling:

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