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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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Rachel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Breathtaking experience seeing elephants in the wild

I absolutely fell in love with Huay Pakoot in the two weeks that I spent living in the village. From experiencing elephants in the wild, to living in the homestay of the local family and getting to experience their cultures - I learnt so much. As well as hiking with elephants daily, I also had the opportunity to learn their local language of Pakinyaw, and teach technology skills to one of the villagers from nearby. All of the volunteers were amazing, and I got to meet so many fantastic people that I will continue to see in the future.

I can't wait to take part in more GVI projects in the near future!

Pros
  • Experiencing elephants in the wild
  • Experiencing a different pace of life
  • Meeting new people from different environments
Response from GVI

Hey Rachel - thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. We look forward to welcoming you back on base (with open arms) and continuing to make an impact.

Kajsa (UK Outreach)

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Aisling
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Community development in Oxapampa

For this scheme you are based directly in the Amazon cloud forest which in an incredibly unique experience. We went hiking further into the forest where I was taught more about the environment and the different species that inhabit it. They are trying to educate the area on reforestation and techniques to prevent environmental damage which we played a role in. I met so many new people who were so welcoming and ready to help whenever needed. I don’t speak Spanish but that didn’t hinder my time there at all, I even picked up some Spanish while I was out there. I was also able to visit incredibly locations in Peru before and after my volunteering such as Lima, Machu Picchu, Cusco and the oasis in Huacachina! Highly recommend.

Pros
  • Great environment
  • Friendly people
Cons
  • Not directly in town
Response from GVI

Hey Aisling - thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. We look forward to welcoming you back on base (with open arms) and continuing to make an impact.

Kajsa (UK Outreach)

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Donna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Conservation volunteer

I have just returned from spending a month with GVI in Pureto Morels, Mexico. The staff on the base were so caring and passionate and the level of training I recieved from them was second to none! I felt like I had found my community and people as soon as I arrived. Being surrounded by like minded souls who were all as passionate about conservation as I am gave me a lot of confidence and a sense of belonging that I have never experienced before.

The dive training and presentations taught me a huge amount about the reef but they were only a part of what I gained from this experience. I learned so much about myself, my ability to adapt and the way that I want to live. This is the part that I know I will keep with me forever and which only comes from going out of your comfort zone.

My only advice if you are thinking of going to Pureto Morelos, especially if it is for a short period like a month, is to check the time of year that you go as during the windy season the diving can be quite limited.

I have already started planning another GVI experience and I can't wait to see what will come from the next one!

Pros
  • Becoming more adaptable
  • Time with like minded people
  • Real conservation impact
Cons
  • Diving is weather dependant
  • No option for individual rooms
  • That's it!
Response from GVI

Hey Donna - thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. We look forward to welcoming you back on base (with open arms) and continuing to make an impact.

Kajsa (UK Outreach)

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

Volunteer Costa Rica

Never felt the intensity like that going to another country by myself and feeling secure soon as I met up with Gvi and from there on was amazing. With that being said my time on base was amazing no phones so basically you and your group socializing and getting to know about other cultures. Being on surveys I always knew I’d see something and maybe you don’t but being out there all you can do is believe you will. On the way to base the first thing we saw was a jaguar track and that let me know I’m in for a crazy experience that I can’t live down

Pros
  • Friends
  • Experience
Response from GVI

Hey Devin - thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. We look forward to welcoming you back on base (with open arms) and continuing to make an impact.

Kajsa (UK Outreach)

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

I never wanted to leave!

My time with GVI Chiang Mai has been one of the best experiences of my life and I'm so sad to have left! I've learnt so much and met so many amazing people... it really is a little family on base. I have a new-found appreciation for the Karen culture as well as wildlife conservation and sustainable living which I'll take with me wherever I go next. If you're thinking of volunteering abroad I'd highly recommend doing it with GVI. It's so much more than volunteering: you learn about why they do what they do and how important this is to the different bases; all the staff I encountered on my GVI journey were amazingly helpful, friendly and truly loved what they do. I'll definitely be volunteering with GVI again, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Pros
  • Staff support
  • Cultural experience
  • Elephants!!
Cons
  • Felt like more money could have gone to the village and the program itself
  • There was a failure on the matter of safeguarding of one vulnerable adult on the GVI recruitment/sales team - this individual should not have been allowed onto base due to his health. The staff team on base, however, were amazing and handled it perfectly.
Response from GVI

Hey Holly - thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. We look forward to welcoming you back on base (with open arms) and continuing to make an impact.

Kajsa (UK Outreach)

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 31

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 Masters 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.