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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

My experience volunteering in Costa Rica with GVI was honestly one of the most incredible experiences in my life. I am 29 years old and I love animals. I never studied science and had no formal education about wildlife or conservation -- I thought my love of animals would begin and end at observing them through glass at the local zoo. Until I found out about GVI's wildlife conservation volunteer programs. I chose the Jalova Costa Rica program because of my love of big cats and the fact that it is a well-established research base that runs multiple wildlife programs -- sea turtle conservation, coastal jaguar conservation, migratory bird studies, and biodiversity studies in the various habitats within the Tortuguero National Park. The base camp was RUSTIC to say the least (you technically have a roof over your head, but think of it like camping!) but waking up each morning to the sounds of howler monkeys and toucans and stepping outside the base camp gate to see fresh jaguar paw prints along the beach at sunrise -- there is nothing more incredible than that!!!
From the way the programs are presented online I was worried they would be aimed at much younger people (students or young people on gap year) but that wasn't the case at all. In a group of 20 volunteers, there were 6 others just like me who had taken holidays from their full-time job to join a GVI program. There were also retirees and I've heard that sometimes families join the programs together too! There is truly something for everyone in these trips.
GVI is a very professionally run company, they have an impressive recruiting process where you can get different points of view from employees, ambassadors, and former volunteers prior to committing to a trip. They have many different payments plans to help you organize the finances for the trip (some can be expensive -- but think of it as an 'all-inclusive resort' for two weeks and it's not bad compared to other vacations!) and there is a good infrastructure around you while you are on the trip in case anything should happen, you'll have the support you need to solve the issue.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
For those of you who have already made up your mind and you're heading to Jalova camp -- a few tips: bring your own wellies/rain boots (the packing list says you can borrow them but you are wearing them every day and you'll want a pair that fit you comfortably!), you MUST bring a headlamp and it must have a RED light setting (so the sea turtles on the beach don't confuse your lights for the moon!) - if you're buying a new one, get one with high wattage on the red light; a good raincoat is a must and a small travel umbrella is nice to have too -- it is a RAINFOREST and it rains a lot. You'll be happy to have an umbrella to run back and forth from the kitchen to the dorms to the bathrooms when it's raining at night! Lastly, as much as possible bring clothing that is quick-dry sports material. When you wash your laundry in the tub and hang it on the line you might only have a few hours of dry weather and it's always humid! Sports material clothing will dry faster and won't get stinky from sitting wet outside for days :) Enjoy your trip! It will be the time of your life!
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Yes, I recommend this program

I spent ten weeks teaching English in school in June 2019 in the south of Thailand. I’m not sure that there are enough words to describe this place and how brilliant it is, and the large impact it made on me. Leaving was very hard as I truly fell in love with the area and the people in it.
The community really make you feel like you’re a part of it and not a tourist. I know the whole point of the program was about teaching the adults and students from the village but I feel like it taught me a lot more than I thought was possible, it opened my eyes to the real world and showed me how much is out there and the world is bigger than my corner of England, it helped me grow so much as a person and just changed my whole perspective on life in general. I didn’t know you could fall in love with a place until I arrived in Ban Nam Khem and this place will always have such a huge part in my heart forever, and so will the people who live in it and the students I taught. This program has a massive impact on the community and its so clear to see that, we took part in village clean ups, temple clean ups, parades and so much more which proved how much of a good relationship GVI has with community and the respect each side has for each other. During the week we taught at two different schools, a Thai school and a Burmese school and had multiple lessons at each, having the same classes each week helps build up such a strong relationship between you and the students and there was such an age range from 6-16 which gives you such different experiences with every class. And every second Friday we had a group project were all three programs would come together to do something, this was different every time from, a beach clean, making chicken wire bins, fundraiser for menstrual cups, summer camp at a school and so much more. we also had weekly Thai lessons to help you with communicating with others in the village which I found very beneficial.
My first two weeks were a massive struggle and I found it very hard, however the staff team were just amazing and gave me a lot of support and made things so much easier, base felt like a home and the staff really made it feel like a family, without such an amazing, kind and supportive staff team I think I would of found the whole experience a lot harder, every single one of them helped me so much while there, they constantly supported me, checked I was coping okay and were always available if I wanted someone to have a five minute chat with, it was my first time out of the country without my mum and the staff team made it a lot more easier and it didn’t feel I was as far away from home as I really was.
The initial shock of finding out you have no hot water, sharing a room with six people in bunk beds, Geckos everywhere and so much more seemed like it would be impossible to cope with but being away from it is weird as I miss these things so much.
I made friends for life here and speak to most of them on a daily basis even though we are in different places around the world, and the ones in England I meet up with as much as we can, and am planning on visiting a group over in America next year.
GVI as a whole has been amazing throughout my time with them, before I went I received many emails and calls making sure I was prepared for my trip, since being back I still get regular emails to check how I am, I’ve joined the ambassador programme where I now go to lots of events around the uk and meet other past volunteers which I really love as its amazing to see so many people who believe in the same thing as you, and I love hearing about past trips of other people, I can say without a doubt this isn’t my last trip with GVI as I will definitely be returning in a few short months. GVI changed me for the better as a person as it was the first time I felt truly happy and I couldn’t recommend this enough to anyone, my confidence and self-awareness grew so much I don’t recognise the person who came back and it’s a very good thing.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an incredible adventure in Thailand with the elephants !
Every mornings we were looking for the elephants to take data on their behaviour and health. During afternoons, we had presentations about the elephants, language courses or some free time. In the evening we had dinner with our host family or with the other volunteers and oftenly an evening activity.
This experience bought me a lot; i’ve learned a new culture by living in my homestay, how to cook some delicious meals, a new language,...
I would totally recommend this amazing experience ! We not only take care of the elephants but moreover we participate in the community by giving english lessons to the locals, by spending time with them,The organisation is very good managed and the staff is very nice !

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I had a very good experience eating lunch in the forest! The mahout cut a bamboo, put water inside and warmed it on the wood fire. He then cut another bamboo into a bowl shape, pouring in the water, spices and noodles. It was delicious!
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Yes, I recommend this program

I've always loved the water, especially marine life so choosing this specific course was a no brainer. At first, I was apprehensive of what to expect but this program delivered above and beyond what I imagined. Every day is different from a variety of jobs including caring and cleaning turtles, snorkeling during coral and fish surveys, beach cleans, teaching children about conservation and much more. My absolute favorite was butterfly surveys and discovered I have a secret knack for identifying butterflies (its harder and more fun then it sounds!).

My social life was brilliant meeting so many people who all had the same goal in mind - to make the world a better place! We would constantly watch films, do quizzes and play games in the evenings, and visiting other parts of Thailand during the weekends, being able to discover more of the culture and nightlife! Being there during Halloween was brilliant, with a party being held and a costume contest (2019 winner here!). They do everything to make it feel like home and have regular events and nights out making it even more enjoyable.

It was constantly sweaty, hot and tiring but my mood rarely faltered and I left feeling that I have definitely made a difference. I won't miss the cold showers or how spicy the food could be, however, those annoyances pale in comparison to the fact that I have had a lifechanging experience and have made friends for life! So while it was some of the hardest weeks of my life it was also the greatest!

What would you improve about this program?
Less Birds, more butterflies!! Maybe more clothes and shoes for when things get really muddy, e.g wellies and waterproof trousers?
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Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with the elephants in Thailand was the most amazing experience. Everything in Huay Pakoot was perfect. You get to witness how beautiful the elephants are up close (at a safe distance of course) and help take data on them to see how they’re improving! The staff was out of this world and they went out of their way to make sure you enjoyed your time there. The relationship you make with the villagers and other volunteers while there, is amazing! It’s such a great thing to be able to experience another culture and have the village welcome you with open arms! I definitely feel like this program has made me into a better person and helped me become the best version of myself! I can’t wait to return to the project! I would highly recommend this program to anyone and everyone!!

What would you improve about this program?
I can’t think of anything to improve!! 10/10 experience



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Alumni Interviews

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

Alyn McKenzie

Why did you choose this program?

I stumbled across GVI quite by accident; a poster in my department's computer lab advertised another conservation charity that undergoes similar work for a higher price. Inspired by this, I had a look around for similar schemes, and GVI stood out for its range of projects and locations. Although they operate globally, Greece is the only location within my budget for flights of theirs - and to work with sea turtles? A dream I never considered could come true!

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

GVI is rather good for assistance - immediately upon signing up, you are assigned an email contact who helps you through the set-up and documentation on their side of things. Whilst you must acquire funding on your own and make your own way to Greece, you are met at the airport and everything you need is provided for in camp - even if you've dietary requirements or other such considerations.

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

Know what kind of living standards you can stand. If you hate sleeping in tents and eating home-cooked food, then this will not be a brilliant excursion for you. If you do not like bugs, can't stand the heat or have no tolerance for early mornings, then beware. If you suffer any of these but want to overcome them, on the other hand, this is a brilliant way to do so!

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

Whilst it does catch odd hours, the overall pace is gentle - several days in a week will see you on the morning or night shifts, which are a patrol of the beach either ~5-10 am or ~11 pm-5 am. Here, you see the turtles and protect/collect data from any new nests; this can be an awesome experience, especially during hatchling season!

After this, you get a long rest until afternoon activities, which vary day by day; sometimes you'll do upcycling for the camp, or turtle resource management, or front a kiosk in the next village along where you educate tourists on the importance of the work.

About once a fortnight, you'll be on base duty, which is to cook and clean for the entire camp! In the evenings, activities such as nest checks (beach patrol again) and putting out shading to protect upcoming hatchlings are common and only a few hours long.

Weekends are entirely free time; you can explore the country or kick back and relax as you please.

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

I was very afraid of not fitting in, and not being good enough - I'm not very sociable by nature and often do struggle with tasks for a variety of reasons. However, at the camp, I found that the welcoming and kind nature of every staff member encouraged me to be more engaged and talkative, which helped me get to know my fellow volunteers and make some good friends.

What meaningful impact does this work have?

As GVI work in partnerships with local groups - in this case, Archelon, an Athens-based conservation group - they are able to make an honest attempt to hand projects to locals rather than necessitate a cycle requiring international volunteers forever. They identify problems with clear (albeit not easy), realistic endpoints and provide helping hands to tackle them. In Greece, this is evident from the highest recorded number of turtle nests for some time being laid on the beaches GVI helps protect; in other bases, similar targets are worked toward. Real change is implemented.

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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.

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