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Founded in 1998, GVI runs programs in various countries around the world, each 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.


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

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.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Staff members were super cool but still professional when it comes to diving. The community was so awesome. I met so many new people there and immediatley became friends with them. On the weekends you can go visit the other cities and party there. The staff can always give you some recommodations. The accomodations are good and clean. There are no hot showers, but who needs a hot shower when it has 30°? ;) (and the water in the shower is still not cold). WiFi is available at base. Definitely recommended to stay longer then four weeks.
All in all an amazing experience which I can recommend to everyone.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have a look at what season you go there. In some seasons you can see turtles nesting, walesharks, etc.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The GVI Chiang Mai program with the Elephants is by far the best volunteer program I have ever done! Mixing Community and Conservation, this program will make your experience unique and varied. One day we hike to observe the birds, another day we will take care of the children in Garden school and Nursery, the next day we hike to study the elephants, followed by a walk to locate Gibbons the next day ! there is a lot of diversity, and especially à la carte with often 2 possible choices of hike in the morning. Although the morning hike is the important element of the day, the rest is not boring. Several presentation options are available, not mandatory. Ranging from the study of snakes, to training to teach English to foreign children, you can also go through an orientation and presentation of jobs in conservation, or even a presentation about the ethics of elephant camps . On Tuesday and Thursday, you can help to teach in selected class at school. For the social aspect this program is also really interesting. On the Wednesdays you have quiz evening , and on the weekends you have the possibility for a cultural/tourist outings. To conclude, an unforgettable experience in an exceptional atmosphere.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Everything about Luang Prabang draws volunteers into its spell. The city itself is compact, lovely and spiritual and packed with beautiful people, temples and scenery. GVI make it particularly special. I absolutely loved it!!
My experience as a volunteer - teaching English on the Women’s Empowerment programme in Laos - was the most positive time imaginable. The GVI staff are friendly, knowledgeable and supportive. Training courses during your first week prepare you for classes and the staff are always on hand to advise and direct. Students are an absolute delight. So hardworking and respectful. You can’t help but grow to love them. I taught two classes. One of young ladies - a mix of English classes and Women’s Empowerment workshops. And a class of young men and novice monks - English mostly but free to develop a Geography workshop towards the end of my stay. There is also the opportunity to teach one to one classes if you have strengths to share!!
There is ample opportunity to explore the city and further afield, take part in chanting and meditation, yoga and alms giving. The city is small, accessible, lively and fascinating.
I would recommend this programme to everyone.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I spent a month in Pokhara, Nepal working with the women's empowerment team. I had a brilliant time, every day working with the various groups of women was exciting, interesting, and no day was the same! We worked in Pokhara and in communities in villages outside the city, meeting lots of different women, and getting to experience different sides of Nepal.
We were made to feel welcome by everyone we met in Nepal, from the house 'mother' and 'father' we lived with in the homestay, to the GVI team and the women we worked with. The homestay is comfortable and clean, and only sharing a room and bathroom with one other person is fab compared to a hostel type situation! We're given breakfast and dinner, and lunch is sorted for us out on project in local cafes and restaurants.
Pokhara is a lively place to be, with lots of cafes and bars, yoga studios, outdoor cinemas, lakeside restaurants, and there are so many things to do, from paragliding to day trips to mountain villages on your days off. I would highly recommend exploring the countryside around Pokhara, including going up to Annapurna Base Camp, walking up to the Peace Pagoda, and visiting Dhampus. It's a really beautiful country.
I would highly recommend this project, and would love to go back!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would go for longer! Pokhara was a really easy place to feel at home in, and I would have loved to stay for another month or so.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I would highly recommend this programme. I met so many amazing people and had so many great experiences that were unlike any that I’ve ever had before. I was able to develop my skills and learn lots about marine conservation through hands on experience. GVI made the whole thing enjoyable and informative and the members of staff were extremely passionate which just made the whole thing even better! I would recommend this programme to everyone who wishes to gain experience in marine conservation.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The amount of wildlife and amazing creatures that I’d never seen before.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Ben Ryan

Ben lives in New Zealand and has a Science degree in Biology, and an Arts degree in Classics and History. Having worked full-time in retail for a few years, he would like to get a job assisting conservation efforts. He did this program as a way to gain experience, both for prospective jobs and also valuable life experience.

Why did you choose this program?

It was at a time when I was unsure of what career I wanted to pursue, but I have always loved working with animals and was interested in conservation. I was intrigued by Costa Rica. It was not a country I had ever really considered visiting, but I did want to travel to a tropical rainforest at some point and it sounded fascinating.

I was extremely uncertain about doing this program at first, but in the end decided that I had to do something interesting, as I was in a job I was not enjoying and had no other commitments in my life at the time. In the end, I decided to just go for it, and I have never regretted that decision since.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

GVI assisted with all of the in-country arrangements. This included meeting me at the airport at San Jose (only available for designated times, though), and travel, food, and accommodation for the duration of the program.

I had to arrange all pre-arrival things, although the staff was very helpful in answering questions to assist with this. This included flights to Costa Rica, recommended vaccinations, and getting any necessary equipment (a list was provided by GVI). I had to arrange my hostel for the first night, although again the staff provided a couple of suggestions.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

There are many pieces of advice I could give, as I learnt a lot in my time overseas. The biggest one for this program is to take the advice they give you in the information once you book seriously: bring long-sleeved clothing. You will need it. When I was going over I thought the greatest dangers would be encountering a jaguar or getting bitten by a snake. I was wrong. Those are still dangers, of course, but GVI has taken every step it can to ensure that the volunteers are protected from those threats.

No, a far more annoying danger (aside from falling coconuts - no I'm not kidding, as you will find out if you sign up to this program) is the insects. The long-sleeved clothing is required on forest surveys to add a little protection to your arms and legs, but you will want to bring more than they suggest, just to wear around the base at night. You may think it is too warm for this, but in the evening you will want the added protection against mosquitoes and other biting insects, regardless of the heat.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The average day tends to involve completing two surveys (although you get a day off on Saturdays). These surveys vary day-to-day, but the main ones are:

* Nest Check: checking known turtle nests for hatchlings.

* Jaguar Cameras: setting up or taking down cameras to try and get footage of Jaguars. Looking at the footage usually gives you a lot of videos of vultures with occasional highlights of Jaguars and other animals.

* Night Walk: walking along the beach at night time looking for nesting sea turtles.

* Forest Survey: My favourite survey, simply because you never know what you are going to see. This involves a walk along one of the trails through the forest, recording the species that you see.

*Canal Survey: row a canoe through the canals, recording every species of bird you can see.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

It was really my first time overseas traveling by myself. I found that it did help to know that I was meeting people (even if I didn't know them at the time) who would make the arrangements from San Jose for the duration of the program. This meant I could just focus on completing the pre-arrival tasks and making sure I got to San Jose safely. I was, of course, worried about not being able to find my way once I got to San Jose, but as I had arranged for an airport pickup this helped that worry somewhat.

Once I had been in Costa Rica a month or two, I was far more confident traveling by myself within the country and did so several times during my stay there (I was in Costa Rica for six months total). In the future, I feel I am far more confident in my ability to travel alone to a foreign country and would be able to make my way around once I was there.

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.