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GVI

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.

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.

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.
Website
www.gviusa.com
Founded
1997
Headquarters

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

Reviews

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

I participated in the Sustainability and Climate Crisis Course and the experience was more than I could have expected! The trainer was kind, professional and gave amazing feedback on all questions and assignments. She was not only knowledgable but actively working in this field, on the ground.

Participant interaction was great, I got to meet people from all over the world. Different ages, backgrounds and experience levels but one passion to know more and actively change the world.

I did this course out of interest and its great for that, but would also recommend this for anyone looking for a career in this space. The course encourages your research and critical thinking skills, leaving you wanting to dive in further!

What would you improve about this program?
I would recommend this program be mandatory to everyone!
Default avatar
Hendrika Johanna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I recently completed GVI’s Ethics in Sustainable Development online course.

I think what was probably most beneficial about it for me was how it helped me with my career choices.

I don’t think this course is just for people who’re interested in sustainable development or the ethics of it, but probably anyone who isn’t satisfied with settling for an average 9-to-5.

Many of us want to do work that actually makes the world a better place. But we don’t reflect on it. We just make assumptions about what kinds of jobs will help you make a positive impact. Our thinking might be too narrow, like “I have to work for a charity or non-profit” or “I have to be a doctor”. Or we might also make assumptions about international development work that are actually quite harmful. (You’ll learn all about this in the course).

In the final assignment you do your own research about organisations you’d like to work for and make your own career choices. The coursework prepares you for this final project.

What made my particular experience pretty interesting (and I hope you’re as lucky) is that the students were from all over the world and had different backgrounds and interests. There were people who were students and people who had been working for 20 years. There were people from Europe, Central America, and me, from Africa. I connected with people I would not have met otherwise. Some of us even connected on LinkedIn afterwards.

Also I should say I was first drawn to the course because I majored in philosophy and currently work in digital marketing and the instructor for this course, Rosie Urbanovich, has a similar background. I thought it would be interesting to learn about her career and it was. Also whenever someone was interested in a specific subject she was always helpful in helping them explore that path.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Start reading about organisations that make an impact and start thinking about how you structure your own ethical decisions.
Default avatar
Carrie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I participated in the GVI Human Rights and Advocacy online short course. It exceeded my expectations. I learnt a lot about the United Nations role in advocating for human rights around the world, gained a better understanding of the politics, langugage and legal processes of human rights, and became more familiar with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and what it truly represents.

This course is a great foundation for anyone passionate about this subject or seeking to develop their knowledge and skills to pursue a career in advocacy. The course provided me with a better understanding of the origins and complexity of human rights and advocacy and I would highly recommend this course to others. It's beneficial for furthering both personal and professional development.

The materials were highly engaging and well thought-out and our course instructor was extremely knowledgeable. She facilitated deeply thought-provoking and inspiring discussions that were attended by participants from around the world, including the US, Ireland and South Africa.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I completed this course over one week and would definitely extend this to a two week period. The course provides participants with some great materials and resources that definitely require more time to go through.
Default avatar
Carrie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I participated in the GVI Human Rights and Advocacy online short course. It exceeded my expectations. I learnt a lot about the United Nations role in advocating for human rights around the world, gained a better understanding of the politics, langugage and legal processes of human rights, and became more familiar with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and what it truly represents.

This course is a great foundation for anyone passionate about this subject or seeking to develop their knowledge and skills to pursue a career in advocacy. The course provided me with a better understanding of the origins and complexity of human rights and advocacy and I would highly recommend this course to others. It's beneficial for furthering both personal and professional development.

The materials were highly engaging and well thought-out and our course instructor was extremely knowledgeable. She facilitated deeply thought-provoking and inspiring discussions that were attended by participants from around the world, including the US, Ireland and South Africa.

Default avatar
Bianca
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I took part in the Impact Measurement GVI Online Course. It was a great experience and very interesting to learn about the different methods that can be used to measure an organisation’s social and environmental impact. Beth, our instructor, was so nice and you could tell she really knew her stuff when it came to impact measurement. It was great to meet the other participants and see how invested they all were in doing the course and in the field of sustainability as a career. Having worked for corporates, social enterprises and NGO’s I found the course material very interesting, having that comparison between how different organisations prioritise, or don’t, making an impact and their motivations for measuring impact. I would recommend the course to anyone wanting to do an online course, as a way to support their current studies or to further broaden their skillset in their career development.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If i did this all over again I would like to be able to dedicate more undivided time to the course work and not try and complete it while also working full time.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 34
GVI
GVI: Volunteer in Thailand
Thailand
9.67 •83 reviews

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

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

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

GVI
GVI: Volunteer in Seychelles
Seychelles
9.59 •32 reviews

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

GVI
GVI: Volunteer in Laos
Laos
9.28 •29 reviews

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

GVI
GVI: Internships in Thailand
Thailand
9.81 •27 reviews

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

GVI
GVI: Volunteer in Cambodia
Cambodia
9.58 •24 reviews

Participate in ethical volunteering projects to support sustainable...

GVI
GVI: Volunteer in Fiji
Fiji
9.53 •19 reviews

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

GVI
GVI: Marine Conservation Volunteering
Oceania
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.

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.

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.