The Ripple Effect: An African Adventure with Anna Strahs Watts, Part Two

Anna Strahs Watts Outside the Cross-Cultural Solutions Office

Image source: Anna Strahs Watts

Welcome to part two of our Ripple Effect interview with Anna Strahs Watts, blogger, gluten free baker and avid traveler. To learn more about Anna and her amazing adventures, visit her blog A Girl and Her Backpack, where she chronicles her experiences overseas and how they have changed her perspective on the world in which we live.

Friends and Colleagues: International Volunteering for Groups

Volunteering as a Group

Image source:

I’ve written a lot about the benefits of volunteering for families: parents see their children working hard, children are inspired to make a difference, and grandparents have a chance to experience their family in a new way, as a working whole. Volunteering trips overseas transform a family into a team. This same principle applies to unrelated groups of volunteers. Any group can reap the rewards of working together for the greater good. It brings out the best in everyone—the diligent worker, the gregarious conversationalist, the foreign language enthusiast, the goof ball—no skill set goes to waste when you’re exploring a new place and meeting new people.

Interview with Cassandra Tomkin, Director of Operations for Cross-Cultural Solutions: Part Two

Cross-Cultural Solutions Volunteer Teaching English in Peru

Image source:

Yesterday Cassandra Tomkin spoke about the beginnings of Cross-Cultural Solutions, developing industry-leading standards for international volunteering, and the unique challenges of managing programs and volunteers around the world. Today she will explore how a volunteer organization develops relationships with programs abroad. She will also discuss emerging trends in the field of volunteer travel and her advice for emerging organizations. I would like to thank Cassandra Tomkin for her great insights. Enjoy!

Interview with Cassandra Tomkin, Director of Operations for Cross-Cultural Solutions: Part One

Cross Cultural Solutions Website

Image source:

This week I had the great privilege to interview Cassandra Tomkin, Director of Operations for Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS). CCS is a pioneering leader in international volunteering. They have set the standard in their field and continue to find new, innovative ways to improve their projects and to give their volunteers the best possible experiences overseas. Their mission: “To operate volunteer programs around the world in partnership with sustainable community initiatives, bringing people together to work side-by-side while sharing perspectives and fostering cultural understanding.” CCS is a model organization for emerging and established volunteer projects interested in building an international presence. I learned so much from this interview, I hope you do too! Part two will appear tomorrow.

Travelocity: Travel for Good

$5000 Grant for Travel for Good Winner

Image source:

Travelocity is one of the giants of online travel planning. Kids these days don’t go to travel agents. We don’t need third-party facilitators to book our white water rafting trips or our day hikes through the redwood forests. We do it ourselves, on the Internet. By now, most travel businesses have moved online. Those that haven’t are either catering to a very specific demographic of wealthy, typically older travelers, or they’re swiftly shooting down the out-of-business luge run. Travelocity has succeeded as a business because we all want control of our destinies. Perhaps that’s putting it dramatically but the point is made: 2012 travelers are self-possessed, savvy, and resourceful.