High School Specials prioritize safety and supervision while helping teenagers explore the world and learn new skills
NEW YORK – February 25, 2016 – Traveling, participating in cultural exchange, giving back to communities in need, and learning useful skills are all opportunities that a growing number of high school students are eager to experience over the summer. For some, the appeal lies in doing something different; others are interested in adding to community service credits or boosting college applications. Since 2004, international volunteer organization Projects Abroad has offered High School Specials, programs specifically designed for students and first-time travelers ages 16-19.
High School Specials take a variety of factors into account: most participants are traveling abroad for the first time (or this is the first time they are traveling alone) so safety and supervision are priority. In-destination staff give volunteers constant support and they are never alone. Every day is filled with a busy itinerary of group volunteer work and cultural and social activities. High School Special volunteers enjoy working closely with their peers and Projects Abroad staff and they find a great deal of value in their daily interactions.
Pauline, a volunteer on the Human Rights & Spanish program in Argentina last year, had her first solo travel experience with Projects Abroad. “Traveling alone for my first time to an unknown country was honestly terrifying,” she says. “For weeks prior to leaving, I worried about awkward encounters with my host family, not making friends quickly, and feeling stressed with a lot of work at the office and not enough time visiting Argentina. However, my time in Argentina ended up being one of the most memorable and important two weeks of my life as it affirmed my passion for human rights and law, and pushed me to choose international relations as my major in college.”
She also made friends easily and realized the other volunteers were similar to her: “We craved adventure, we wanted to make a difference, and we wanted to experience new things.”
Projects Abroad currently offers more than 50 different High School Specials. This year, the organization also announced several exciting new programs:
This project was designed to benefit underprivileged communities on San Cristobal Island. Volunteers are placed at a kindergarten, where they teach and play with children and practice English to improve the kids’ conversational skills. Part of their role will involve practical community activities such as painting or joining a beach clean-up. Volunteers are immersed in a Spanish language environment, so this is a fantastic opportunity for students interested in practicing and improving their Spanish.
Projects Abroad began welcoming volunteers to Madagascar at the beginning of 2016 and they are all making strides at various new projects on the island. This summer, high school students have the opportunity to live and work in the heart of the rainforest, and participate in ongoing biodiversity and environmental impact studies.
A summer placement in Colombo is great for students who are curious if a career in dentistry or healthcare is what they want to pursue. Volunteers spend time in the dentistry department of a local hospital, visit a hospital specializing in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, attend medical workshops, and participate in outreaches at a medical camp.
Applications for 2016 are flying in and students interested in going abroad for the summer should apply soon to secure a place on the program of their choice. For more information, contact the New York office directly to talk to a Program Advisor or visit www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/high-school-specials.
Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.
Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 30 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.
For details on volunteering abroad, visit Projects Abroad’s web site at www.projects-abroad.org.