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What are High School Specials?

Differences between High School Specials and Standard Projects

High School Specials are short-term international volunteer service projects and internships that are specifically designed for teenagers. Back in 2004, we put our many years of experience in international service into creating a new program just for high school volunteers. The result is our High School Specials – a collection of more than fifty projects that engage over 1,000 young people each year on projects in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the South Pacific.

High School Specials are structured differently from other types of Projects Abroad programs, taking into consideration the requirements of younger and typically less-traveled volunteers. We also make some changes to better channel youthful energy and optimism into worthwhile projects!

Safety & Supervision for High School Volunteers

We understand that young volunteers traveling abroad need structure, a safe environment, and support from qualified staff. With this in mind, we have tailored our High School Specials to provide a full 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 elbow-to-elbow. In the evenings and on the weekends, volunteers go with our staff to soak up various cultural activities and historical tourism sites.

High School Specials volunteers are never alone. After their busy daily schedule is completed, volunteers 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 a dorm-style building that we manage.) In any case, volunteers have at least one roommate of the same sex and approximate age.

This is a fantastic program 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 programs.

Group Experiences with Other Teens

Teen volunteers with their completed painting project at a school overseas

High School Specials 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 1-4 weeks (depending on the project).

If volunteers choose to extend their trip, having spent some time gaining a solid foundation on a High School Special program, they then can transition to work an additional week or more along with our longer-term volunteers at one of our projects offered throughout the year. Volunteers will have more freedom and independence during this time. Our staff are always on hand should any additional support be required.

Many volunteers are surprised to find how international their group is. Typically a group of fifteen High School Specials volunteers consists of teenagers coming from five to ten different countries. Working together overseas is a fast bonding agent for any group, so even after a short time abroad most volunteers return home with life-long friends and knowledge of cultures and countries far beyond their project location.

Air Travel There and Back Again

Teen Medicine volunteers dressed in scrubs in a hospital abroad

Unless participating in a project with an Escorted Flight option, High School Specials volunteers travel independently to their designated airport to start the project. Our trained in-country staff meet any flight and bring the volunteers back to our office for introductions and training.

Each year, we offer a few Escorted Flight options which give volunteers the option to join a staff member on a flight leaving from New York – JFK (for North Americans) for their destination airport. If an Escorted Flight option is available for a specific project, it is noted in the project description for that project.

In all cases, the cost of air travel is not included in the program fee for High School Specials. However, we do have an in-house Travel Team that contacts volunteers with a proposed itinerary in case they would like to purchase flights through us. Of course, volunteers are always welcome to book their own flights instead.

What is Included in the Program Fee?

Aside from the extra staff support as well as tourism excursions that are unique to the High School Specials, all Projects Abroad volunteers receive room and board, medical & travel insurance, a personalized MyProjectsAbroad webpage to help you prepare, 24-hour support from our full-time staff and (of course) a worthwhile job to do.

We are also happy to help with any paperwork required to claim community service hours credit for your time overseas with us. Typically volunteers receive credit for twenty hours of work per week.

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