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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.

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.

Reviews

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Isabelle
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I started this adventure to make a career switch because I'm passionate about wildlife and especially the big mammals. I wanted to switch careers between working with humans to working with animals. Beside some volunteerwork, I didn't have a lot of experience with the bush or the safari life. Spending my time at the Limpopo base has been absolutely wonderful for me. The programs focus isn't only on mammals, they got me interested in bird watching, trees, invertebraes and reptiles. At every occasion I now grab my binoculars to watch some amazing birds here! I feel like I learned so much and I'm very excited to share this knowledge to my friends and family back at home. Life at base feels like one big family. In just a short amount of time you get so close to everyone. Especially because everyone here is very passionate and like-minded. I would highly recommand this program for people searching a career in conservation, it is a first step in the right direction.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Searching for the Rhinos lead us to seeing two hyena's, then we heard a leopard making a kill. When we were searching for the leopard we saw the two hyena's again. They led us to the kill and then we saw the leopard eating her prey. This was such an amazing and one in a lifetime experience.
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Jessica
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did the GVI online wildlife internship program and it was so rewarding and educational! Not only was I provided with classes to learn from, but I was also given a project to create which is now going to be used by GVI and other students for further research purposes! They give you a project in your area so I was able to work with an animal that I had never previously heard of which was really cool. Knowing nothing to being an expert on a topic if very rewarding. If the online internship was this amazing, I can't wait until I can do an in-country internship!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to do this internship! It may be a lot of money, but it is worth it for the amount of experience you gain.
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Jen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent 4 weeks in Kokrobite, Ghana, teaching and travelling, and it was the best 4 weeks of my life! GVIs commitment to sustainable development really stood out to me and the staff at the base are very welcoming and friendly. GVI staff were incredibly helpful pre-departure also! Volunteering in the school is challenging but also so fun. The children give you such a unique insight into Ghanaian culture and its hard to see how the experiences I had in that school can compare to anywhere else in the world! I would recommend this trip to anyone looking to make a meaningful impact as a volunteer and anyone looking for an adventure!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My only advice would be this, do not underestimate how quickly your time in Ghana will fly by! I was there for 4 weeks and it felt like 2. There is so much to do and so much to see, if you really want to make an impact then stay as long as you can!
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Finn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Living in the jungles of costa rica is simply put, amazing, the wildlife is awe-inspiring, the scenery gorgeous and up-lifting. Whilst the there are many wonders to behold, there are still drawbacks to be aware of, many will find the very rural living, insects and lack of comforts we find ourselves enjoying in normal life difficult to cope with while staying there. However if you are truly passionate about wildlife, nature and exploration you will find yourself adjusting to these discomforts and especially in the lack of connectivity to modern society rather refreshing

What was your funniest moment?
it would most likely be the time that the local cows occupied the base by breaking the gate, with a rather manic 5am cow herding ensuing
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Josh
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The course has really opened my eyes to how amazing the coral is! The biodiversity I get to see in a daily basis is mind boggling!
Experiencing it first hand with staff with such great knowledge about every aspect of the reef really helps appreciate and understand it!
All the staff and volunteers are so friendly and helpful!
The diving itself is simply breathtaking!
The location of base is beautiful, with a jungle on one side and the beach on the other side. Shops are about half an hour walk away.
All in all, I am so glad I am on this course, I love every part of it so much so I am planning on extending!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One of my first times in the water with GVI, we went snorkelling to get litter out of the ocean. Then we see a beautiful spotted eagle ray! It was stunning!

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.

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.

Professional Associations