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GVI

About

Founded in 1998, GVI runs programs in various countries around the world, each 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.

Website
www.gviusa.com
Founded
1997
Headquarters

Unit 7, Westlake Business Park, 4-8 Stibitz Street
Tokai
Cape Town
7945
South Africa

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.

Reviews

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

I spent a month in Pokhara, Nepal working with the women's empowerment team. I had a brilliant time, every day working with the various groups of women was exciting, interesting, and no day was the same! We worked in Pokhara and in communities in villages outside the city, meeting lots of different women, and getting to experience different sides of Nepal.
We were made to feel welcome by everyone we met in Nepal, from the house 'mother' and 'father' we lived with in the homestay, to the GVI team and the women we worked with. The homestay is comfortable and clean, and only sharing a room and bathroom with one other person is fab compared to a hostel type situation! We're given breakfast and dinner, and lunch is sorted for us out on project in local cafes and restaurants.
Pokhara is a lively place to be, with lots of cafes and bars, yoga studios, outdoor cinemas, lakeside restaurants, and there are so many things to do, from paragliding to day trips to mountain villages on your days off. I would highly recommend exploring the countryside around Pokhara, including going up to Annapurna Base Camp, walking up to the Peace Pagoda, and visiting Dhampus. It's a really beautiful country.
I would highly recommend this project, and would love to go back!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would go for longer! Pokhara was a really easy place to feel at home in, and I would have loved to stay for another month or so.
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Tiffany
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I would highly recommend this programme. I met so many amazing people and had so many great experiences that were unlike any that I’ve ever had before. I was able to develop my skills and learn lots about marine conservation through hands on experience. GVI made the whole thing enjoyable and informative and the members of staff were extremely passionate which just made the whole thing even better! I would recommend this programme to everyone who wishes to gain experience in marine conservation.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The amount of wildlife and amazing creatures that I’d never seen before.
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Rebecca
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

In 2017 I completed a 2 week Volunteer trip with GVI at the Karongwe Big 5 Game Reserve. The experience I had then blew my mind and I simple had to get myself back out to South Africa and immerse myself fully into the experience. In 2019 I found myself re-entering the gates of the reserve about to partake on a 6 week long wildlife conservation internship. It was simply amazing being back, with base feeling instantly like home to me. When you share your living and study space with others of the same mentality, drive and ambition the interactions and conversations never fail to disappoint. From testing each other on our bird knowledge, having drum lessons under the light of a full moon to sharing stories of the days drives around the heat of the brie pit...unbeatable!!
The reserve has a metapopulation of Cheetah as do most across Southern Africa, the focus was KCF the newly transferred young female. We would spend our drives tracking her movements and interactions with the male coalition KZN (Kwa, Zulu & Netal) as well as the other predators on the reserve. It was fascinating plotting GIS maps which pinpointed her home ranges as well as close encounters with the Lion pride, Sub Zero at their helm.
We would inevitably encounter all the big 5 during our general reserve drives and log additional data for Birds of Prey, Kills, Rhino IDs, hyena dens etc. Being so close to such monumental animals was within itself mind blowing although when submerged by so much beauty from the land beneath us to the ever changing sky above us I found myself being taken aback by such small seemingly overlooked things. From the first break of morning sun across the mountain tops to the scurrying sounds of dung beetles battling over the mounds of dirt covering the path in front of us. Reserve work drives were always an entertaining experience too; heading out to the bush working on tree management, invasive species control, bush clearance, tree planting and land rejuvenation. When the sun began to set behind the mountains we'd make tracks back to base with sweat soaked shirts, grubby skin and achy limbs but we'd all feel an over powering sense of accomplishment and pride that we'd actively made a positive impact to the running of the reserve and the protection of all the wonderful curiosities held within.
There is something utterly simplistic that touches my heart in a place like this, being cut off from the outside world to bask in the greatness of mother nature. Watching how everything is so expertly entwined together and being a part of protecting something so special and significant to our own existence it's something I urge all of us to do and feel at some point in life.
Life on base is enough to rave about in itself but we're surrounded by an untold amount of places to adventure and experience. I made the most of my Sunday's and mini weekends to explore places like the epic Kruger National Park, took a drive through the Panoramic Route, visited Jessica the Hippo and spent an afternoon at HESC were I saw the King Cheetah for the first time...out of this world!!
Becoming part of the GVI family has expanded my mind and heart in so many ways, I was filled with so much new knowledge during both my stays at Karongwe and I am left thirsty for this journey to continue. I have signed up to complete my full 6 month internship back on the same base...it just goes to show how much of a lasting impression the place, people and wildlife had on my soul.
GVI has given me the confidence to push myself in ways I didn't think I ever could, I have found the courage to leave my job of 8 years in Central London to chase my dreams of working in wildlife conservation full time. My glass is already filled with so much priceless hands on experience and with my continued path into this field with GVI I believe my opportunities will be endless whether abroad or home in England. I am excited to see where this next year takes me and will forever be thankful to the GVI team in the UK and South Africa for being a part of it and turning my dreams into reality!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Encountered a male and female Leopard mating in the open, as such elusive animals this was a once in a lifetime moment and one that brought me to tears!
Default avatar
Jess
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time volunteering at Jalova with GVI was incredible, I've gained memories and friends I will always cherish. I saw some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring things in nature that I still can't believe, the surveys and time helping the turtles was so unique and rewarding. The experiences in the jungle test you and help you learn a lot about yourself. The work GVI is doing is amazing and I can't wait to participate in another project. I would recommend this to anyone, truly a life changing experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Come in with no expectations, if you have any you will be wrong, just be prepared to be blown away.
Default avatar
Connor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI is a fantastic company to volunteer for with so many great projects around the world. After I visited GVI Chiang Mai base it changed my thinking and my career plans. The impact that the project has is astounding. The relationship between GVI and the local community is completely unique. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly and the villagers take you into their homes and cook for you. Spending time walking with the elephants in the forest is a special experience and I would thoroughly recommended enrolling on this project.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The villagers catch their own fish in a nearby river and my homestay used to cook me river fish from that day.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Gaia Langella

Why did you choose this program?

After I finished high school, I was given the possibility to chose a trip among many destinations worldwide, paid thanks to a scholarship. I had always wanted to volunteer abroad and that sounded like the perfect chance. I love children and playing with them, so I chose a childcare program in Pokhara, Nepal, because it matched perfectly my desire to travel around the world, above all in Asia, which I find incredibly fascinating.

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

Both GVI and WEP have been perfect in providing help and information both before the departure and in loco. I had supervisors ready to answer every single question of mine about all the aspects of the journey. I was given advice about the flights to buy, accommodation for my days not on project, means of transport and everything I needed.

During the project, I was given the chance to challenge myself planning some activities to do with the kids on my own, and discuss them with the staff members. They were the most welcoming and understanding project-mates I could have ever asked for.

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

I would recommend making sure to bring everything necessary for the journey, but above all, to bring curiosity and an open mind. Volunteering abroad is definitely out of our comfort zone, and that's the magical thing. In the beginning, it may be difficult to adapt to a new routine, very different from the one we are used to. But after a while, you start feeling at home and days go so fast that your only regret is not to have planned to stay longer.

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

I used to teach in two different schools: the one in Pame and the one in Hemja. They are 30 minutes far from Pokhara in opposite directions.

We used to leave by bus after breakfast and, through a beautiful route by lake Phewa, we reached the school. Among the activities that we used to do with the kids, there were reading books and singing songs (which they actually loved).

Every day we showed up with a new activity for kindergarten and grade one. Then we used to have lunch and some sports time in the yard. After another afternoon activity, we used to go back to the homestay and plan some activities for the following days.

During the evenings and the weekends, we used to organize activities among volunteers (we also went paragliding!).

Two weeks really fly too fast.

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

I was scared of going that far from home completely alone, knowing no one, as a young European girl. My fears revealed to be completely useless since I got to know really lovely people, willing to be helpful and talk to foreigners.

Nepali people are the most welcoming and smiling human beings on earth, and there's really nothing to worry about in asking them if you need advice or got lost in Durbar square.

If you could do this trip again, what would you change?

If I had the chance to go back, I would plan to stay longer (one month or two). It would be perfect to have the possibility to extend the stay once you are already there. One of my favorite moments was when I heard about many stories about Indu tradition and religion from a local staff member who was on a project with me. My curiosity made me ask further and further information about that beautiful culture, and I enjoyed those moments of sharing very much.

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.