What are High School Specials?
High School Specials are overseas volunteering projects and internships that are specifically designed for teenagers. Back in 2004, we put our many years of experience into creating a new programme just for volunteers aged 15 to 18. The result is our High School Specials – a collection of over fifty projects that engage more than 1,000 young people each year on programmes in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the South Pacific.
High School Specials are structured differently from other types of Projects Abroad programmes, taking into consideration the requirements of younger and typically less-travelled volunteers. We also make some changes to help channel youthful energy and optimism into worthwhile projects!
Safety, staff support and supervision for High School Special volunteers
We understand that young volunteers travelling overseas need structure, a safe environment, and support from qualified staff. With this in mind, we have tailored our High School Specials to provide a fully-structured timetable of events to keep the volunteers busy.
While on the project, volunteers spend every day with our full-time professional staff. During the working week, volunteers roll up their sleeves with our staff and work side-by-side. Then in the evenings our staff organise and supervise a programme of cultural activities and entertainment.
We even organise weekend excursions for our High School Special volunteers to local tourist attractions. These trips are chaperoned by our staff and are a great way for our volunteers to see more of their chosen country.
High School Special volunteers are never alone. After their busy daily schedule is completed, they return home to their host family in groups of two or more volunteers per family. (In a few cases noted in the project description, volunteers stay all together in shared accommodation that we manage.) In any case, volunteers have at least one roommate of the same sex and approximate age.
This is a fantastic programme for volunteers to receive structured support. For any volunteers wishing to have the independence to explore by themselves in the evenings or over the weekends, we recommend taking part on one of our other programmes.
Working as a group with other teenagers
High School Special volunteers come from all around the world to join the group. Start dates are fixed so that everyone arrives and departs on the same day, staying on the project for at least two weeks.
Many volunteers are surprised to find how international their group is. Typically a group of fifteen High School Special volunteers consists of teenagers coming from five to ten different countries. Working together overseas is an incredible experience for any group. Even after just two weeks abroad most volunteers return home with life-long friends and knowledge of cultures and countries far beyond their project location.
Staying for longer than two weeks
In most cases it is also possible for volunteers to extend their trip for an extra week.
Having spent their first 2 weeks gaining a solid foundation, volunteers then spend the extra week along with our longer term volunteers at one of our projects offered throughout the year. Volunteers have more freedom and independence during this extra week; however, the staff are always on hand should any additional support be required.
Alternatively if volunteers wish to continue receiving structured support for a longer period, there is also the option to take part on one of our High School Specials for 4 weeks in several destinations.
Air travel to and from the project
Most High School Special volunteers travel independently to their chosen destination to start the project. Our trained in-country staff meet the volunteers at the airport and bring them back to our office for introductions and training.
The cost of air travel is not included in the project price for High School Specials. However, we do have an in-house Travel Team that will contact you with a personalised flight itinerary if you would like Projects Abroad to organise flights for you. Our travel team can also try to book you onto a flight with another volunteer if you indicate you would prefer this. Of course, volunteers are always welcome to book their own flights instead.
What is included in the price?
High School Special volunteers get all the great features included in a regular project, along with a few extras.
All Projects Abroad volunteers receive food and accommodation, medical & travel insurance, a personalised pre-departure support website called 'MyProjectsAbroad', 24-hour support from our full-time staff and (of course) a worthwhile job to do.
However, we also throw in extra staff support, a fully-structured itinerary, social events and incredible weekend activities. These extras make all the difference and contribute to our High School Specials being our most popular projects for volunteers aged 15 to 18.
The Impact of Volunteering on a High School Special
Every year, thousands of young volunteers join our High School Specials. During their time overseas, they contribute towards achieving long-term goals and make a long-lasting positive impact on the communities where they work. Read our detailed 2016 High School Specials Impact Report to learn more about their achievements.