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COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, GVI has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.


Founded in 1998, GVI runs online courses, virtual programs and travel-based education and training programs in various countries around the world. Each program is manned by our own staff and aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) – as well as the objectives of local partners. We welcome participants from all around the world and help facilitate their development into global citizens.

Our commitment to running high-quality sustainable development and experiential education programs has earned us recognition from numerous organizations such as Panthera, Save The Children, and the Seychelles National Parks Authority, as well as, Stanford, NYU, Duke, and Ohio State.

Being responsible in our contribution to sustainable development is at the core of everything we do and we are guided by our ethical commitments and human empowerment principles. We are truly a global family brought together by our dedication to long-term positive impact.

GVI has a Community Development Internship in Thailand!

This is an opportunity to learn more about Chiang Mai's local Karen hill tribe culture, gaining intercultural communication skills and valuable teaching experience.

Unit 7, Westlake Business Park, 4-8 Stibitz Street
Cape Town
South Africa


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Yes, I recommend this program

GVI have a fantastic range of short courses in sustainable development available online now, I have just spent the past month completing 5 of these courses. They're so accessible and packed full of information, statistics, references and experience from professionals in the field who are incredibly approachable and inspirational. A great element to these courses is the convenience and encouragement to engage with other students studying the courses too via online discussions on the website.
Human Rights, Scientific Research and Conservation, Careers in Sustainable Development and Community Development are some of the courses I completed and highly recommend!

What would you improve about this program?
Extending the course, or having flexibility for deadlines on assignments to suit individual needs and schedules. Also to encourage week long breaks between completing a course before going to the next.
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Yes, I recommend this program

In June of 2019, I volunteered with GVI in Greece, Giannitsochori, for two weeks on their turtle program - but I wish I had stayed longer! It was an incredible experience and your work really does make a difference to the conservation of turtle populations. The accommodation is in a tent, about a 2 minute walk away from the beach. The GVI staff were always around and happy to help with any queries or issues and I felt incredibly safe on this program. I would recommend to anyone with a passion for marine conservation, those who wish to make a difference/sustainable impact, or anyone who loves the outdoors!

What would you improve about this program?
One thing I think maybe should be noted about the program is you're not guaranteed to see turtles/baby turtles on the program. I was there for 2 weeks in June, and thought I would see turtles hatching, but they do not usually hatch until later in the season - this was down to my own knowledge on turtles and no fault of GVI's, but I think it is something to be aware of. We did see adult turtles from the seafront, but you couldn't really see that well - but knowing it was a turtle was enough for me!
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Yes, I recommend this program

I did a short-term wildlife internship with GVI at their Jalova, Costa Rica project in 2019. I researched many different organisations and decided on GVI, I loved their ethos and was glad to experience every bit of it being true. I felt in safe hands from the moment I booked, the support staff were friendly and gave lots of useful information. I was met at the airport by GVI and transfered to my hostel the day before travlling to base so I felt safe arriving on my own in a new country.

On base, the staff were excellent, very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Despite being in the remote Costa Rican jungle amongst the wild animals and with basic living conditions, I felt very safe. The opportunities to learn were second to none and we dived straight in to our duties after a solid orientation. I got to experience beautiful habitats and tonnes of wild animals in their natural environment. Contributing toward the protection and conservation of that special place was one of the best experiences of my life. If I wasn't mid-way through study then I would have undoubtedly stayed longer, I just didn't want to leave. The food was excellent and adjustments were made for any dietary requirements (vegan/gluten free etc.).

I now have a wealth of practical conservation experience and have made many friends for life, whom I see as much as possible back in the UK! I was so impressed with GVI that I have booked another trip (delayed due to Covid-19), but I am eager to work with GVI in 2020 to make the world a better place.

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing to improve really, you get out what you put in with these kind of experiences. I only wish I could have stayed longer.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an incredible time volunteering in Kerala and would recommend this experience with GVI to anyone seeking to be pushed out of their comfort zone and contribute to making a positive impact in the wider world.
The Women's Empowerment project is an eye opening experience focused on sustainable development by building strong connections with its participants and creating an impact that is visibly lasting.

India is a vibrant country with a rich and diverse culture and I can't imagine anywhere better to have spent this experience.

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Yes, I recommend this program

My time with GVI in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica was phenomenal. I did the short-term internship in between my second and my final year of my university degree as part of my placement year and choose this program due to their very good reputation and to build my skills in conservation.
My role as an intern was to assist with the research projects which were being carried out at the biological research camp I was living at. Whilst there, there were jaguar and biodiversity projects running so I helped with the tracking and camera trapping of jaguars and biodiversity surveys of the surrounding habitat. Also, whilst on this internship I completed GVI’s biological survey technique program where I learnt how to apply conservation practise to a range of ecosystems and I also did an emergency first aid program to prepare for the realities of practising conservation in the wild. In addition, I completed the ILM endorsed leadership certificate where I had to do several presentations, assignments and attend weekly one to one sessions with my mentor.
The staff were paramount to the incredible experience as they offer a wealth of knowledge and make you feel welcome from day one in camp. Due to the remote and basic living conditions you quickly form very close friendships, unforgettable memories and meet amazing, likeminded people along the way which makes the experience so wonderful.
My high expectations of this program were massively exceeded, and I wish I choose to stay for more than 8 weeks. The program helped give me direction to my future career plans and guided me in picking final year modules at university that compliment these plans. Do not just consider doing a GVI internship, DO IT, you will not regret it at all.
I can hands down say this was one of the best experiences of my life and shaped me massively as an individual.


Displaying 1 - 9 of 35
GVI: Volunteer in Thailand
9.67 •83 reviews

GVI offers a variety of programs in Thailand driven by sustainability...

GVI: Volunteer in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
9.14 •43 reviews

With almost six percent of the world's biodiversity in Costa Rica, it...

GVI: Volunteer in South Africa
South Africa
9.76 •41 reviews

South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation, for...

GVI: Volunteer in Seychelles
9.58 •31 reviews

As a country supporting 115 islands, Seychelles is ecologically...

GVI: Volunteer in Laos
9.28 •29 reviews

In the mountainous city of Luang Prabang, once known as the royal city...

GVI: Internships in Thailand
9.81 •27 reviews

This is an opportunity to gain practical experience in wildlife and...

GVI: Volunteer in Cambodia
9.58 •24 reviews

Participate in ethical volunteering projects to support sustainable...

GVI: Volunteer in Fiji
9.53 •19 reviews

Fiji is a country of over 300 islands. With clear-water beaches, green...

GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
9.42 •19 reviews

GVI offers a variety of marine conservation volunteering programs. You...

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Liam Ingram

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I had a friend who became a staff member. He recommended it but I have been to 2 other GVI projects before this, so I had considered it before. My friend was so insistent that this project was different and I needed to experience it, so he convinced me, and he was right.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I booked directly through GVI so I had a couple of phone calls to give me information and then a pre-departure pack that was emailed to me with kit list and info on the program. All you need to organize before you go are flights and accommodation before the Saturday of your program start. Luckily, Chiang Mai is so easy to get around it was fairly simple.

You can also get in touch with other volunteers and meet up before the start date.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My main piece of advice is don’t worry about the homestay. I was concerned as I’d only been on programs with dorms and wasn’t sure how it would be living with a family. It was one of the highlights!

The thing to remember is it’s unusual for you but not for the family, they do it all the time. They’ll welcome you into their house and if you want to spend time with them they love it, but they’ll also understand if you’re quiet and want some space.

I miss the Old Chief's little bedroom already!!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day begins with breakfast from 6:30 at the base. Elephant hikes begin at 7:30 and you’re picked up by the mahouts and taken to the elephants. A survey lasts about 2/3 hours and then you’re brought back to base for a packed lunch made by your homestay.

Afternoons can be spent teaching at school or doing an intern project. Dinner is at 6 at your homestay and in the evenings there are usually things going on at the base, like a quiz.

This is a typical day Monday to Friday and weekends are yours to do with what you like. You can stay on base or visit places nearby; I went to Pai, back to Chiang Mai and to Doi Inthanon.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Going into it my biggest fear was the language barrier with the locals and how they would feel about westerners living there.

On the base, we were given pakinyaw lessons, and even though I only knew a few basic words, the villagers appreciate it and wanted to learn more English from me too. They loved having us there, they all enjoyed us visiting the houses at the end of harvest for a party and our weekly football matches.

Once I left, I felt a real part of the community and was really welcomed with open arms.

Do you interact with the elephants? Are the elephants dangerous? Will my home stay be able to cope with my dietary restrictions?

No, we only observe the elephants because we want to get accurate data on elephants in the wild. We do get very close and they will often come and sniff you, especially when you’re new. But as a rule, only the mahouts will interact with the elephants.

And no, the mahouts are very good at keeping the elephants a safe distance away and not in any compromising positions (ie above you on a slope) staff will also help keep you out of their way when they’re in the forest.

And yes! I’m a vegan and my food was great! My homestay didn’t really understand why I didn’t eat eggs, but they were fine to cook for it.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Rachel West

Job Title
Sales Account Manager

Rachel is a fun loving people person who loves adventure and challenges. Starting in the hospitality industry she gained valuable experience, but yearned for something with more meaning bringing her to GVI where she aims to grow and contribute to the change.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Camping on the white sand beaches of Watamu in Kenya with good friends. We were care-free, adventurous - hiking and fishing for small fish with the local kids. Most of the friends we made we had met at the location and they also spent the rest of the time with us.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Only just starting with GVI I see myself over the next few months gaining valuable information. Since starting with the company, however, I can already feel the presence of teamwork and care for one's fellow employee.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

As what appears to be a popular program at GVI, I recall a story of a volunteer working on the Jaguar program in Costa Rica. They told how they knew it would be amazing, but came out of it feeling sad to leave and feeling like their perspective of the world had changed.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

There are two that I have specifically eyed, the first being in Costa Rica working closely with the Green Turtles and studying their natural habitat and nesting habits. The second program that caught my eye is working with monks in Laos. This experience could be an eye-opening experience exposing them to education and myself to a new culture and way of life.

What makes your company unique?

GVI is unique as they are clearly focused on the experience of each and every person who applies for a program. Each person gets the necessary amount of attention and more. The company shows that they are about making a change and providing an experience rather than making money or an image.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

TEAMWORK. The only way a company can grow and become stronger is by each individual working together towards the same goals. When one link is weak, it will show quite obviously.