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Why choose GVI?

GVI is an award-winning organisation that tackles critical local and global issues through our travel-based volunteer, internship, fellowship and apprenticeship programs as well as online courses, and virtual programs. At GVI, we believe that long-lasting impact is locally-led, which is why our programs are run in partnership with local organisations like the National Parks of South Africa, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Seychelles, Mexico and Thailand.

We’ve been connecting thousands of change-makers, like you, through an extensive range of nature conservation and social development programs in some of the most vulnerable habitats and communities around the world for over twenty years. Our projects tackle a number of critical global issues from turtle and elephant conservation to citizen science and gender equality.

Joining a GVI program gives you the chance to contribute to something bigger than yourself, and be part of a community of global citizens.


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Yes, I recommend this program

I love GVI

I loved my time with GVI. I was volunteering in Costa Rica for the environment and the people. I felt safe and welcomed. I learned so much about life their and the environment. I even got to see a baby turtle. I was taken cared of at all times, even when my bag didn't arrive with me to Costa Rica, GVI did everything to get it to me even when we were 6 hours away from the airport. It was such an eye opening experience. I would 100% recommend doing this, it teaches you so much about Costa Rica and the impact of the environment on turtes.

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Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience in a great location!

I completed GVI's marine conservation internship in Mexico for 6 weeks. It was an incredible experience. The staff in base were amazing and I was able to compelted my Advanced Open Water and Coral Reef Restoration Diver speciality while I was there. I was assigned to coral and worked my way up to be able to lead Coral Watch dives where we surveyed the level of bleaching the corals were experiencing.

We would also take part in weekly beach cleans and I helped work in the coral lab too where they're nurturing corals before replanting them on the reef when they're a bit bigger.

On weekends we were free to explore. I snorkelled with whale sharks, dived in cenotes, swam in bioluminescent algae and visited the historic pyramid in Chichén Itzá.

It was truly an amazing experience and I met some wonderful people along the way too!!

Response from GVI

Hi Fiona

Thank you for your review. Congratulations on completing your Advanced Open Water and Coral Reef Restoration Diver specialty! I'm glad you were able to have fun and develop professionally - These activities sound like so much fun, especially snorkeling with the whale sharks. I hope that you'll be back soon!

All the best,
Tiffany (GVI Outreach Team)

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Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Ghana

Amazing experience! I cannot explain this in any other way. This has been the best experience of my life so far! From start to finish it was incredible.
I completed 4 weeks in Ghana with GVI, as a JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) volunteer and was able to partake in a number of different projects. My favourite being ‘self-care for boys’ teaching about mental health and ways to look after it.
The work GVI undertakes in the community of Kokrobite has such a positive impact particularly in the schools that projects are undertaken. I worked with some amazing staff and participants that all showed tremendous dedication to the work we were carrying out. The staff were all so welcoming from start to finish, always available if needed or just for a chat about life in general. The conversations had here will be held dear to me for many years to come.
My time in Ghana consisted of teaching, painting, playing in a football game, exploring the local community, and visiting other regions of Ghana. I learnt about the history of Cape Coast and had a weekend in Adda. The weekends were free time with GVI staff arranging trips for participants at an extra cost, I cannot recommend doing these trips enough!
I have been able to develop my skills and will take these with me for the rest of my life.
I would recommend GVI Ghana to absolutely anyone wanting to volunteer abroad and make an impact, this impact may not be seen but hopefully in the long term it’ll be there. It is important to keep an open mind and fully immerse yourself into the culture and opportunities available because this allowed me to experience so much more!
GVI Ghana has my heart, it will be a birthday I will never forget and hopefully I will be back soon 😊

  • Lifetime experience
  • Friendly and knowledgeable staff
  • Excursions offered/ free time
Response from GVI

Hi Katie

Wow, what a lovely review! Thank you for taking the time to review your experience in such detail. Your experience sounds amazing - I'm happy to hear that you felt so welcomed by the staff and that were able to fully immerse yourself in a different culture. It's also lovely to hear about all the activities you participated in and that it helped you develop skills to use further in your life. I hope this is not the end of your journey and that you join us again soon!

All the best,
Tiffany (GVI Outreach Team)

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Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Ghana Community Development Internship

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with GVI Ghana. The passion the staff show for the work here enables all participants to have a meaningful impact on the community in Kokrobite. The lessons taught to the children in school are designed and delivered in a way that offers maximum impact, creating last impressions that will hopefully benefit them for years to come. The culture on base is vibrant and friendly; it really feels like home. The community members are always so welcoming and seem genuinely happy that we are there. Thank you GVI Ghana for having me!

  • Genuine impact
  • Friendly environment
  • Passionate staff
  • Cultural shock
  • Lack of amenities in the community
  • Can be very hot
Response from GVI

Hi Joe

Thank you for your review. It's heartwarming to hear that the base's vibrant and friendly culture has made it feel like home for you. The warm welcome from the community also truly enhances your stay and I'm so happy that you had this experience! Thank you for joining us and we hope to see you soon.

All the best,
Tiffany (GVI Outreach Team)

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Yes, I recommend this program

Seychelles Internship

I took part in the 4-week internship on Curieuse Island, Seychelles and had an amazing time. The staff are very friendly and I met likeminded people from all over the world. We were focused on collecting data on turtle hatching success, giant Aldabra tortoises and measuring baby lemon sharks. The programme was based on a beautiful island that we got to know well on our daily hikes. As well as gaining knowledge in new conservation methods, it was also extremely beneficial on a personal development level. I would recommend GVI to anyone passionate about making a positive difference, pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone and learning more about themselves and the world. The only downside was that the internship was not very different from what the volunteers were doing, and I didn’t get the chance to lead a project as had been suggested. Other than that, I can’t wait to go again!

  • Staying on a beautiful remote island contributing to conservation
  • Interacting with, studying and learning about the endemic wildlife
  • Connecting with likeminded people
  • Did not get to do all parts of the internship advertised
  • Challenging climate with no fans
  • Some people may struggle with lower living standards
Response from GVI

Hi JC,

Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad that you had a great experience overall, and I’m especially happy to hear that you developed your knowledge and skills surrounding conservation methods.

I’m sorry, however, that your internship did not meet your expectations in some ways. We take your feedback seriously and would like to use it to improve in any area necessary. If you’d be willing, please don’t hesitate to share your feedback on this matter by emailing ‘feedback@gviprograms.com’.

Hope to see you on one of our programs again soon!

Head of Alumni Services


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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.

Jill Blavet

Job Title
Virtual Internship Supervisor
Jill loves traveling, meeting new people and is passionate about conservation.
She joined GVI in 2020 to learn more about marine life protection. As an intern, Jill worked with organisations based in South Africa, Thailand, and Mexico on marine conservation projects. She also supported education, wildlife, and marine conservation projects in Fiji, Costa Rica, and Seychelles. Soon after completing her internship, she joined GVI as the Virtual Internship Supervisor, where she supports the Virtual Internship programs. Jill believes that it is vital for communities around the world to learn and understand nature's value to improve our behaviour and relationship with the natural environment, which will allow future generations to enjoy it sustainably.
Jill Blavet


What is your favorite travel memory?

My trip to South Africa, for sure! It was full of adventures and learning experiences. I felt so close to nature, where I feel the happiest! I have been fascinated by the ocean and marine life from an early age. When I was in Florida, I had swam with Dusky sharks, which was very special; however, my encounter with a Great White through cage-diving in South Africa made me fall in love with sharks even more. During my trip to South Africa, I contributed to the conservation of Great Whites, which was why my travel experience was so enriching. Being in their natural habitat was mesmerising and sharing that serene moment with a Great White underwater was indescribable.

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

I have a deeper understanding of the intersections of the economy, environment, and social factors. Each Sustainable Development Goal is intertwined with one another and is vital to meet each of these goals for the survival of life on earth. Also, when I first joined GVI, I was set on working from one or two locations, but now I have many in mind.

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

Speaking from personal experience, as a volunteer in marine conservation at GVI, I had the incredible opportunity to design video content for Saving Our Sharks to raise awareness on shark conservation; I was happy to have helped inspire people to change their perspectives on sharks. Additionally, I researched and redesigned educational material on Marine Protected Areas and the positive impact on communities where they are implemented: the education materials were to be utilised by business schools in South Africa. I have now returned to GVI as a VI supervisor, and I look forward to welcoming students from around the world to the VI programs.

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

Honestly, there are so many programs that I would like to take part in that it is hard to choose just one as they all offer something unique! But, if I had to choose just one, it would be the Lemon Shark and turtle conservation program in Curieuse Island. The reason why I would choose this program is because it deepens the understanding of shark behaviour and furthers conservation efforts, which is crucial now more than ever. Sharks have been around for about 450 million years, and they've survived five massive planet extinction events. Sadly, now some species are critically endangered, and the Lemon Shark population is decreasing, making the species vulnerable. Therefore, it is imperative to use the tags to better understand how to conserve sharks and improve the relationship between humans, sharks, and other marine life.

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

The people! We are all passionate and dedicated to make a positive change, and we share common goals and values. GVI works with inspiring partner organisations across different locations, which is exceptional. I am very proud that my team ensures we tailor every program to the interns' interests to maximise their experience whilst ensuring the projects that our global partners need are delivered in time and with excellent quality.

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

Firstly, I believe people are the biggest asset of a company; people are the driving force of a successful organisation. Secondly, an organisation with practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is another success factor. Lastly, it is vital for an organisation to support work-life balance and value its employees to move forward successfully.