Coll. A tiny island, just 13 miles long and 4 miles wide, situated in the Inner Hebrides on the North West coast of Bonnie Scotland. Ever heard of it? No? Well that’s OK, me neither! That is until I got an email telling me that I had to go there for the selection process.

My name is Paul Teal and I am a sixth year student in Coláiste an Átha. I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to go to college so I decided to look at other options. I came across a UK based charity by the name of Project Trust. Project Trust offers volunteers the chance to go to the Americas, Asia or Africa for a year to do voluntary work such as teaching, social care or youth and community development.

To secure a place I first had to fill in an online application form with the usual questions and then to write a personal piece (200 words) explaining why I wanted to go. I completed the form, pressed submit and few days later an email arrived in my inbox saying  ‘after careful consideration, we are delighted  to offer you a place on one of our selection courses’.

I had to travel 3 hours to Larne, take a 2 hour ferry to Cairn Ryan and complete a 6 hour road trip up to Oban. Finally I had to get another ferry to Coll departing at 7am  the following morning. I left my house in Monamolin at 9 in the morning and arrived in Oban at 9pm- a 12 hour journy in total. The ferry journey to Coll took nearly 3hrs!

The 5 days of selection including grueling tasks, lesson planning, lesson teaching, group and individual tasks, presentations and interviews. And lots, I mean lots of paperwork!

Unlike other overseas volunteering organisations, Project Trust only send 300 volunteers overseas every year.  While nearly 1000 people attend selection. A the end  of the course, we were told we would get a letter with good or bad news within 10-14 days. My letter came after what seemed like a century…and I was delighted to discover that I had been selected to go to South Africa to do social work.

I now need to raise £6,200/€8000 between now and the 5 day training course- all donations are greatly appreciated. I will be departing for South Africa in late August/early September and I won’t see my family or friends for a year unless they choose to visit me. I will keep them up to date through letters and regular emails.

For more information students/teachers can talk to me at break or lunch or via email

Category: News