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GVI

About

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.

Reviews

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Andrew
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Mexico marine conservation

Amazing time in Mexico working with many great people. The staff are welcoming and helpful, they are all passionate about conservation and enjoy teaching the volunteers. It brings together a lot of like-minded people which made the whole experience even better. The programs are educational and fun which motivated me to keep going. Day to day operations ran smoothly most of the time, a little difficult when there was a lack of staff. There weren’t as many GVI experiences as we were initially offered.

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Christian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable time in Seychelles

Seychelles was incredible, the scenes were that out of a movie and the people made the memories, I genuinely couldn't change a thing because I don't know what could beat it.
The number of times I thought to myself, "how is this real" would be surprising, but that's exactly how it felt, I was swimming in coral reeds on the other side of the world, identifying fish and helping make a difference, and that feeling will be difficult to match. Seychelles made one of the best months of my life and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to go.

Pros
  • Friends
  • Experiences
  • Fun
Cons
  • Price
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Genevieve
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing ghana volunteering

Had an incredible time with GVI Ghana; spent one month working in local partner schools with primary aged children assisting with one to ones to support literacy and maths. Work was very rewarding, kids were very engaged and you could see their progression. Felt very well looked after, food provided was a lovely mix of Ghanaian and western. Had plenty of cultural activities including African dancing, trip to Cape coast slave castle and hiking trip to the lush Volta region. Overall an incredible experience I am eager to go back!

Pros
  • Amazing cultural experience
  • Well looked after by staff
  • Great food
Cons
  • Less safe region of the world
  • Very humid climate without air conditioning
Response from GVI

Hi Genevieve,

Thank you for this lovely review.

It's so AMAZING to hear that Ghana was an incredible experience for you. Thank you for all your hard work and for contributing such great efforts to the literacy program on base. We are looking forward to welcoming you back on base soon.

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Tia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Seychelles

I’m an undergrad marine biologist and decided to come to GVI Seychelles as part of my placement year at uni, my main goal of the academic internship is to gain research for my dissertation as well as get involved with marine conservation! The staff are great at listening to your ideas about things such as your project ideas or even suggestions around base. I’ve made loads of friends since being here and really don’t want to leave! If getting to dive 5 days a week in the most amazing reefs doesn’t entice you I don’t know what will!

Pros
  • Make lots of friends
  • Learn lots of skills such as being a leader
  • Great opportunity for those interested in conservation
Cons
  • No wifi
  • Seychelles is expensive in terms of food, drink etc
Response from GVI

Hey Tia,

Thanks for your great review!

I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with friends on base. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please keep on spreading your love for GVI. And obviously, we would love to see you back on base soon!

Default avatar
Dominic
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with GVI on the Seychelles

Staff members are very nice. It takes a bit of time to get used to the base and your daily schedule but once you get used to it you will have a wonderful time. You get introduced to a life of a marine biologist who has to take care of his/her diving equipment which includes filling up your tanks by yourself. The weekends off are a great opportunity to discover the rest of the main island (Mahé) but you can also discover other islands (I went to Praslin and La Digue with the other volunteers on base). Speaking of other volunteers, during these 4 weeks I got to meet some incredible people. Working together from Monday to Friday and then having a nice weekend really helps making friends.
To conclude, I definitely do not regret signing up for this experience and encourage everyone reading this to do it too!!

Pros
  • You get to make very good friends
  • You dive a lot
Cons
  • Try to avoid monsoon season if you do not like rain :)
Response from GVI

Hey Dominic,

Thank you for this lovely detailed review.

We are so glad to hear that your experience on base was memorable and that our staff made you feel welcome! It sounds like you made the most out of every day and we are so glad to hear you made beautiful connections while contributing such great efforts.

We would love to see you back on base soon.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I’ve always been interested in conservation, but thought I’d never have the time to really explore what was available. Due to redundancy, I decided to act on this desire finally do something for me.

I am passionate about all wildlife and its conservation, but especially turtles due to their long life and the huge impact short sighted actions have on the population. I have been reading books on their history and work being carried out for them. The biggest impact for me is that the work you do now isn’t realised for up to 35 years, so what you do if for long term, not short term reward. Their beauty, grace and endurance being affected by their outright vulnerability in and out of the water gives me a heartfelt desire to do something to give them and their future a chance, even if that is only a few weeks to help a small amount on their, hopefully, long journey.

One of the first websites I looked at was GVI. They have many many hubs around the world with a diverse range of projects. After several informative and guidance emails and chats, it was clear that the time of year and my dates gave me 2x locations to look deeper into. I struggled to get the correct dates and thought another opportunity would pass me by. However looking at other sites convinced me further that GVI was the right one to go for. I changed my dates based on my research and the enthusiasm and support I was given from the GVI team, signing up for GVI Thailand - Ban Nam Khem.

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

I contacted GVI direct from their website. Sending the first email was scary and exciting at the same time. I didn't really know what to expect and hoped that I'd made the right choice. The email response, information location guidance and their request to call me were very welcome. The call back I had really set the picture and even offered other programmes to consider to ensure I was getting what I wanted. Further research and GVI help reassured me that I was with the right people, going to the right place for me.

Before I signed up, I checked the flight and accommodation availability. Once all looked good, I signed up and started booking! The guidance for applying for the visa was spot on, I had to travel to London to apply and collect my Visa, but Visa support companies will do this for you. I booked the flight direct with Qatar, I also booked the first night hotel via Booking.com which was quick and easy to do. That was it, I was set to go.

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

The one piece of advice is to have confidence that you'll have a great time. Selecting the programme you like means you will meet like-minded people and you'll have a great time. Volunteer holidays are full of opportunity, most people travel without knowing anyone and you'll leave with many new friends. Other advice would be to follow the GVI advice on research topics and to download an app with the country's language, it really boosts your experience.

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

I was lucky as the timing was right for a couple of unusual events.

Most days comprise a morning and afternoon activity. Due to the Sun setting early, there's a lot to pack in. The Marine Conservation programme focusses on 2x visits a week to the Royal Thai Navy base to work cleaning turtle tanks, cleaning baby turtles and measuring and treating larger turtles for any infections. The programme also completes a 3 day visit to a couple of off-shore islands, completing butterfly, bird survey and Coral reef surveys. My time included 3x intern leadership project completions. The interns had been working on their different conservation projects and we worked for each of them for a day. The projects were to man stands in the local town to provide advice and awareness of issues within the country, help create conservation information posts to bring awareness of waste in the sea and a local garden to provide food and a better environment for volunteers. We also completed a sponsorship event raising money for food for the turtles.

Finally, you have weekends off, which most people take the opportunity to travel around the country together to visit other tourist attractions and cities.

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

My biggest fear was my age. I imagined a lot of young adults not wanting an old person of their parents' age around!! I'd left volunteering late in life, but couldn't let my concerns hold me back! From the moment I arrived, everyone was friendly and inclusive. It was easy to see that age was not an issue. In addition, there are more people volunteering later in life that I realised.

What was your biggest curiosity before participating in the program?

For me the one question I wanted to know was "Will it be worth it" As with all things in this world, you really do get what you pay for. GVI are not the cheapest volunteer organisation. I did consider cheaper offers, but my research led to me question their direction and motivation was not the same as GVI. The onsite staff are dedicated, the food is fresh and cooked by locals, the activities are vast and all with local people providing the transport, guidance, food, accommodation etc. To see where my money went really proved to me that it was the right choice, fair and well spent.

Staff Interviews

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

Zaytoen Domingo

Job Title
Assistant Editor
Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Master's program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I've never been anywhere outside of my country, but the work I do allows me to write and learn about places all around the world that I hope to visit one day.

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

This was my first job after graduating. I joined the GVI Writing Academy as an intern and never planned to stay longer. Two years later, and I am currently an editor.

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

"Before I went to my program in Oxapampa, I wasn't very fond of spiders, but now I am". This is a simple quote, but one of the funniest things I've read!

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

I would go to Cusco, a city in southeastern Peru, to see the landscapes and immerse myself in the culture. Cusco is the capital city of the Inca people and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I want to trek the Andes and see Machu Picchu. I want to learn about the city and its history.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The theatrical society is a fun social group that anyone can join. I love the spirit and that it's used to make work-related events more light-hearted.

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

The right management is key to a successful company. It's important to hire managers with integrity and genuine care for their staff. This ensures trust in the team and the organization. When a company has good leaders, they develop great employees who become even better leaders. It's rare to find people in power who use their authority to do good. But it's not impossible.