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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.


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 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.

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


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Yes, I recommend this program

I recently completed online courses with GVI having previously interned and volunteered on the Limpopo base before with plans to return the content of the courses tied in well to skills and knowledge learned in the field.

I chose the following course;

Leading Teams for Emerging Leaders
Careers in Sustainable Development
Making and Impact Ethically
Introduction to scientific & Conservation Research

The content in each was very engaging and thorough, the lessons also tied in very well with the assignments. I found having the live lecture with experts in the sector extremely helpful with their wealth of knowledge and passion for the subject. The online community within the courses worked effectively too; the use of discussion forums opened opportunities to reach out to others on the same course to chat through the lessons and assignments.

I feel the cost of the courses reflects highly on the content provided, I have learn lots of new toolkits, theory and developed my understanding further in the wildlife conservation and sustainability sectors. This new knowledge will go a long way in boosting my career shift in the near future and allow me to make the most out of my next internship!

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Yes, I recommend this program

The content of the course was excellent, I learned such a lot and will definitely book onto another course that is relevant to me. The tutor was interesting, engaging and keen to hear the thoughts of the students. The assignments were very manageable and helped to consolidate the learning. The online tutorials were at a good time, but if you weren't able to attend the sessions were recorded so you could watch in your own time, and the tutor was happy to answer questions after the event, so if there was something you didn't quite understand, you weren't left in the dark. The group chats also brought up many interesting points.

What would you improve about this program?
I was one of the first students on this course, and some of the wording was a bit suspect, but giving feedback was good for the team to make some changes for future students.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I spent a month on Curieuse island just after graduating university and had such an amazing time that I then went back again a year later!

You get stuck in from the word go and it’s amazing to be able to be so hands on in the survey work with the shark pups, giant tortoises and turtles even if you have no prior experience. The experience is amazing and I’ll never forgot the moment I first saw a female turtle coming up the beach to nest. It’s also great to see the work you take part in actually being used by the Seychelles national park authority to drive future decisions.

Curieuse island itself is a wonderful place where you’re lucky enough to be able to live on an island in the national park that tourists can normally only visit for the day. Whilst the accommodation is pretty basic, it’s great to fully embrace island life with the dorms right on the beach and the ability to explore the island or snorkel on days and afternoons off. Curieuse is also really well placed to explore other islands like Praslin and La Digue or go scuba diving at weekends.

I can’t recommend the programme enough!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
4 weeks was wonderful but time goes so quickly there. I’d definitely recommend staying for 6-8 weeks if you can
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Yes, I recommend this program

I travelled to Greece in June 2018 and had the best two weeks of my life.

Despite a rocky start of being refused boarding onto the airplane, from the moment I landed I felt both welcome and appreciated. Arriving many hours late, a GVI staff member waited for me all day in the airport and then sorted us accommodation in Athens, having missed our bus earlier! The warmth I felt from this lovely woman was immediate and continued for the whole trip...

Once we had finally arrived at the campsite the next day I was introduced to the rest of the staff as well as the other volunteers and within a few seconds made friends that, even though they live far away from me, are still part of my life now.

We stayed at a campsite on the most beautiful beach, surrounded by sand dunes and with stunning sunsets every single night. And this was the beach where our daily surveys took place. Each day we ventured out to locate and protect the turtle nests that had been dug the previous evening. Seeing the tracks they leave in the sand, and coming to understand them really makes you feel special!

By the end of the two week experience a significant goal had been reached. Over the summer the GVI team, along with Archelon (a neighbouring turtle conservation charity) had helped to protect over 1000 turtle nests, ensuring the hatchlings had the best chance of survival. There aren’t words to explain how rewarding it is to be involved in work like this. The celebration that evening was one to remember.

Volunteering for GVI was such an incredible experience. The scenery is reason enough to go to the area, but meeting new friends who also care about conserving nature, and knowing that we’d done some good for the turtles was the highlight of this fabulous trip. I cannot wait to get back!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring a good alarm clock! (It’s worth getting up for)
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great online course for anyone wanting to understand how Community Development works in practice, learn about common problems and solutions and look at various approaches to development programmes around the world. I had to re-evaluate my opinions around community development several times, it was definitely eye-opening and I think it will help me a lot in my further career path.
The live lectures were my favourite part, they were fun, engaging and it was great to hear other people's experiences and discuss ideas with them! For the assignments you get to either discuss your own ideas with other course members or explain how you would approach a certain situation or manage a fictional community programme.
Definitely an amazing way to learn about Community Development from home, yet still with other people to talk to and I will keep learning about the topic in the months to come for sure!


Displaying 10 - 18 of 34
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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.