Unbelievably so, I have found myself with the opportunity to complete an internship in Dharamsala, India this summer. (No, I still can’t believe it.) It was by chance that I saw the listing, and in a whirlwind I applied, because why not? I hadn’t heard back for a long time, and figured since the start date of the internship was five weeks away, I must not have gotten it. One fateful call later, AND I GOT AN ALL-EXPENSES PAID IN COUNTRY INTERNSHIP IN INDIA!!!
Honestly, that sentence doesn’t seem real.
I wanted to take some time before I left to talk about my specific internship and what you guys can expect to see and hear from me the next few months as I embark halfway around the world!
First, let’s talk about the organization I will be interning with, Cross-Cultural Solutions (fondly known by the abbreviated CCS). CCS was founded over two decades ago by Steven Rosenthal, who, after spending time exploring southern Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, realized the potential international volunteerism had in affecting real and sustainable social change. (CCS’ history is fascinating, so feel free to read more here!)
Steven partnered with some amazing people, and through this collaborative venture, CCS was born! Today, Cross-Cultural Solutions operates in nine different countries around the world, with over 35,000 alumni having served the local communities.
I had the opportunity to volunteer through CCS with the Alexander Hamilton Scholars for a week in Tecpán, Guatemala last summer, and it was absolutely incredible. We spent the mornings in a local elementary school teaching English and our afternoons participating in cultural learning activities. We planted trees at the top of a mountain we climbed, watched and learned a centuries old technique to making earthen pottery, struggled through language lessons in the Kaqchikel Mayan dialect, visited Mayan ruins, participated in a Mayan ceremony with a Shaman, and much more. These experiences helped to not only immerse ourselves in the culture, but gain a broader understanding and appreciation for the country and her people. I can’t imagine gaining a better holistic experience of Guatemala than what I did with CCS.
What I really admire so much about CCS is their commitment to promoting the shared humanity, respect, and integrity of the local people through service projects designed by the people who best know the needs of the community—the locals themselves! Each in-country director is a local expert who works with his or her community in establishing the most effective (and needed) projects. This ensures that the work being done is generating a sustainable impact!
In Dharamsala, CCS focuses on projects relating to child and adult education and literacy, child development, support for people with disabilities, global health, and girls’ and women’s empowerment. While I am completing my Global Communications Internship, I will be spending time myself volunteering in one or more of these projects (yet to be determined which one[s]!). I will also be able to experience all of the placements as I capture content for CCS’ social media accounts.
Speaking of social media, this is primarily what my internship is focused on—capturing, creating, and generating content for Cross-Cultural Solutions’ Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat (volunteerCCS), and blog. I, along with five other interns placed around the world, will alternate days we “take over” the accounts, as well as crafting content that will be shared throughout the week. We will also be creating content to build up a catalog for CCS to use throughout the year. It’s a huge undertaking that will no doubt be challenging and incredibly rewarding.
Expect lots of pictures, narratives, and videos from me. It’s going to be unreal. In the meantime, I’m working on some additional blog posts about Dharamsala and other miscellaneous things. Please follow along either via WordPress account or email if you’re interested! I’m excited to share my perspective of the world with you all.