GVI: Volunteering for Teens

Video and Photos


GVI offers a variety of opportunities for young adults between the ages of 15 and 17 to gain first-hand experience in cultural immersion, marine and wildlife conservation, and community development. This is a great way to become a global citizen with a better understanding of social and environmental issues. It’s also a gateway to improving your future education and employment opportunities, as you will acquire soft and hard skills in your chosen GVI focus.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to dive in oceans of Greece, explore the jungles of Costa Rica, or the rolling Incan valleys of Peru, all while contributing to ethical impact, this is for you. This is an opportunity to connect with a network of people who share similar passions for sustainability, while also expanding your knowledge of different linguistic practices, and cultural customs. Each project is aimed at reaching sustainable objectives that align with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

  • Improve your education and employment opportunities with practical skill development in cross-cultural communication, marine and wildlife conservation, and community development.
  • Have an opportunity to receive the University Award by ASDAN, for participating in a GVI teen program.
  • Expand your knowledge and experiences of coastal Greece, biodiverse Costa Rica, Carribean Mexico, limestone isleted Thailand, and Incan influenced Peru.
  • Contribute to the 17 UN SDGs, and learn about ethical volunteering and impact.
  • Become more familiar with global issues collectively affecting the environment, community, and wildlife while also making friends with like-minded teens from around the world.

GVI global programs are open!

We're thrilled to announce that nine of our global locations are now open, including Greece, Thailand, Nepal, Seychelles, South Africa, Costa Rica and Mexico. We're also taking bookings for our Thailand, Chiang Mai, Lao and Peru locations for 2021. Stay tuned for more locations coming your way soon, including a new location addition in the Canary Islands.

Questions & Answers

It is actually not necessary to speak the language of the country you are going to, all programs will feature guides in English. If you desire to speak the language, there will be lots of opportunities to practice and learn.


9.1 Rating
based on 10 reviews
  • Growth 8.9
  • Support 9
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 8 of 10
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Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a Lifetime!!

In the summer of 2017, I participated in the construction volunteer program based in Pokhara, Nepal and had an enlightening experience. From the moment that GVI Nepal representatives met us at the airport in Pokhara, I felt safe. This stood out to me mainly because when first looking for volunteer organizations I read that: "GVI's number one priority is safety". This was reassuring and true throughout my time in Nepal, thousands of miles away from my home.
One of my favorite aspects of the program was that it was structured. Each day we had an agenda that the GVI representatives and our team had come up with based on respect for the community and environment we worked in. GVI's influence in the town we visited was not abrasive or controlling, nor was there any savior mentality attached to the work our group was doing. In no way did working for GVI feel like a mission trip, and that's what I valued the most about my experience. I knew that working with GVI was promoting a long term sustainable development project, that relied very heavily on communication and collaboration with the community where projects were centered.
Every day was a new adventure. Our project lasted for roughly two weeks renovating a government school. When we first started, the classrooms had old paint jobs, huge spider webs (and kind of enormous spiders!) on the walls, cockroaches on the floors, and most of the benches designed for students to sit on were broken. We painted all the walls of the classrooms, deeply swept and washed all of the walls and floors. Some of the adults in our team worked on fixing the seats. Throughout each day on the project, I became much closer to my team. I formed lifelong friendships and relationships that I value and maintain today.
I fell in love with the parts of Nepal that I was exposed to. The rooftop of the hotel we stayed at felt like a second home, the endless fields of glimmering rice paddies along all of the roads, the delicious vegetarian meals, the kind greetings we received everywhere we went, the luminous mountains you could see from anywhere.
Participating in this program through GVI allowed me to experience Nepal safely, respectfully and mindfully. After this trip, my view on global travel drastically changed. Our GVI representatives emphasized the importance of respectful visitation and having a constant awareness of your impact with a person, environment, or community as a whole.
I am so grateful for having the opportunity to spend time in Nepal and learn about Nepali culture while experiencing some aspects first hand. Going to Nepal and experiencing its intense beauty lit a fire inside of me. Through this volunteer trip with GVI, I learned a lot about my passions and future career ideas. So much so that I registered for another program for a longer duration of time, teaching in Nepal this summer.
Overall this was an incredible experience with no bumps or mishaps. To anyone looking for a safe, responsible way to volunteer abroad, I would highly recommend GVI. GVI is also a credible organization that has helped build my resume. This was later an added bonus to volunteering through GVI.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most common dish in Nepal is called Dal Bhat. It usually consists of rice, some sort of pickled veggies, some lentil curry, some curried potatoes and various other assortments of hard-to-identify foods. This dish is traditionally eaten with your hands, throughout my trip I gathered that there was definitely a technique in not dropping all of the rice picked up with your hands.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Thailand at 16

This is my second experience of going on a under 18 programme with GVI ( Global Volunteering International). In my opinion they know what they are doing and have specialism in getting it right for under 18s. I enjoyed seeing the beauty of Thailand and having the opportunity to help protect and preserve it, both directly by looking after turtles but also working with local children to increase their understanding of recycling, and how they can look after their world .
This GVI programme provides a perfect combination of holiday fun and adventure ( canoeing, swimming, hiking, sleeping in tree and raft houses ) with cultural visit to temples and Buddhas with meaningful work with turtles and children.
Meeting, living and working with the other GVI volunteers from across the world was fantastic and our leaders were great.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go with an open mind and a view on making a difference
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Yes, I recommend this program

My first under 18 volunteering in South Africa with GVI

From start to finish this was an incredible experience.I would highly recommend GVI South Africa to any young person It provides adventure and a opportunity to work with, and for some amazing people , other volunteers and leaders.You get to experience working as a team,giving time and energy to make difference to children.You will get to see Cape Town at its best and also see. the problems the country faces. I went just before my sixteenth birthday and was very pleased with how GVI got the balance between supporting us as under 18 year olds and giving us responsibility and challenge. The practical arrangements , accommodation and transport were good and our trips at the weekends were inspiring and eye opening. It has had a lasting impact upon me .

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
This trip is perfect for any young person with an open mind looking for adventure and challenge.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Magical experience!

When I first arrived in Thailand in the first day of the program I had no idea what to expect. It was one of those thing where no matter how ready you think you are you never will be quite ready enough. I was so nervous as I had only come with one friend. Immediately the staff who had come to pick us up put us at ease. This made us feel welcome and they were so friendly. This experience has taught me so much in terms of being more independent as well as showing me how much of an impact our everyday decisions have on others around the world. My favourite part of the experience was working with sea turtles because we were able to help them by cleaning their tanks and giving them medicine. I also really enjoyed the sightseeing of the second week as we did so many awesome things such as sleeping in treehouses and in huts in a lake.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

I wish everybody could have an experience like these trips. Going to a foreign land working with people that don’t speak the same language as you, traveling to places outside of your comfort zone, connecting with people you never would’ve met otherwise. These trips have shaped me as a person, taught me how to be more grateful, how to learn from my experiences and the people around me. I couldn’t ask for anything else in this world than to travel and GVI gave me that opportunity.

The world would be a better place if everybody could have these experiences and learn about different cultures with hands on experiences. It’s a completely different feeling to learn by experience than sitting in a classroom watching videos from places we’ve never been to or problems that don’t perosnally affect us. It’s a completely different thing to see people struggling in person, to lend a helping hand to someone in need, to understand that even though we may have it so good that we can pay to help others, there are people out there that need that help.

It was also extremely refreshing to go to an area that appeared to be stuggling only to learn that the people there are happier than those in my home time. The people and the kids I got to work with had better attitudes and more spirit for life than any person I had ever met in my day to day life. It’s incredible what living in poverty can do to someone’s life. It does not obviously equal unhappiness, but motivation, appreciation for the things they do have, and a simpler expression of happiness.

I will forever cherish the experiences I have received from these programs.

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Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Thailand Under 18

My experience with the GVI Under 18 program was quite unique compared to my fellow participants. Although we all did the same activities, my experience is one that I will never forget because although it was rough it was one of my best memories and my dumbest actions. It was the second and last week we would be in Thailand so we went to see as much of it as possible and we stayed at a new housing every night. This particular housing was one of the best, the view was mountains and greenery, actually breathtaking. After we ate dinner we all went to our rooms and my room had a porch so my roomate and i were talking and having fun with everyone. They sat out on the lawn and we were on the porch. For some reason I needed to run back into my room and I didnt see whether or not the glass door was open. Running towards the room it seemed open. It was not open, my whole body smacked right into door and i just felt numbness everywhere. I fell back and when i got up I could not stop laughing, the thought that I had actually done something that dumb was shocking. My lesson to future participants is to not make the same mistake I did. Be aware of your surroundings. When I got home I went to the doctor and we discovered my busted lip, bruised knees, a concussion and a fractured nose. The next morning the staff saw what had happened and automatically raised concern. As it was my last week I didnt want to miss out on any activities but the staff definitely took care of me the best way they knew how. I would not change a thing about my experience and I would definitely continue with more GVI programs in the future.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Thailand Under 18s July 2017

I was recently involved with GVI on their under 18s program in Thailand. One of the highlights was when we were doing construction work in an education centre for Burmese refugees. This is a picture of me playing football with some of the younger children who are the beneficiaries of our work there. I was able to ride on a Samlor (motorbike + trailer sidecar) full of rubble and plants with two Burmese boys of around 16. Even though we couldn’t communicate in each other’s language we were working together to achieve a common goal- to better the lives of the community. I especially remember being passed bricks out of the side of the samlor in the sweltering heat with sweat dripping down my bright red face. In that moment, I felt as though I was finally doing something genuinely meaningful. The outdoor classroom we created together will exist as a testament of our efforts and benefit the lives of many hundreds of children. I would thoroughly recommend GVI thoroughly if you are interested in going abroad as they provided me with an experience that I will never forget.

What would you improve about this program?
I feel as though the only way that the program could be improved would be to make it longer! When the two weeks had finished, I felt a deep longing to be involved in the country for a longer period of time.
Yes, I recommend this program

U18 Costa Rica

GVI Under 18s in Costa Rica is the perfect mix of meaningful volunteer work and adrenaline pumping activities. Working within the local communities is much needed and you feel the work you do every day is important. You'll have plenty of opportunities to practice Spanish and maybe even learn how to cook in an authentic Costa Rican kitchen. Outside of volunteering there is time to visit the beach, see local markets, surf, hike, rappel down waterfalls, camping and go white water rafting on one of the most beautiful rivers in Costa Rica. Get ready for a truly once in a life-time trip- complete with monkey and sloth sightings! As they say in Costa Rica, come and live !Pura Vida!