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GVI

About

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.

Website
www.gviusa.com
Founded
1997
Headquarters

Unit 7, Westlake Business Park, 4-8 Stibitz Street
Tokai
Cape Town
7945
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.

Reviews

Default avatar
Kieran
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Hi,

My name is Kieran, 22 years old and from the UK. I went on a 4 week volunteering course with GVI in the Seychelles on their island conservation program. It was truly an incredible place and experience. I met people from all over the world and everyone had a passion for the work. Real difference from my usual job working in Insurance in the city. Everyone got along and the staff were really friendly, knowledgeable and funny. The support GVI staff were also very informed and present when you wanted help organising the trip.

The base it self is simple, but more than I had first thought. It has clean filtered water. Solar panel electricity for the base. Enough water for the toilets and showers. There is also a good single on the island if you have a local sim for internet and texts. Bear in mind this is an island. The base only has a small boat and the other other people living there are some rangers stationed on the other side. The base is also right on a stunning beach and there is a lot of wildlife around. Food is mainly vegetarian but I was surprised to how much I would like it and the opportunity to cook with different people. There is also a constant supply of local beer and BBQ nights to relax.

The work itself is amazing. The island is certainly breathtaking and holds so much wildlife. Turtle surveys, Shark tagging, Tortoise monitoring and also a ratting program. The ratting program may not be for everyone and the staff are very considerate and will not make you do anything that you do not want to. My personal favourite was the sharks. Catching a baby Hammerhead was incredible. Cute little head. The water around the island is also incredible for the snorkels and certainly beats the tourist chaos and makes you an in depth feel for life their and another way of living.

Enjoy!

Kieran

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I will definitely need a waterproof camera. The Water and snorkels were amazing and you get up close with wildlife that you wouldn't get on a standard holiday.
Default avatar
Nicolas
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My volunteering experience in South Africa was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I have always had a love for animals, and this experience was everything I had hoped it could be.

The staff create a friendly and safe environment, as well as continue to pass on their knowledge to the volunteers. I learned more in my time with GVI about wildlife than I do in my university classes.

The other volunteers are also extremely likeminded and animal focussed, which makes for a real family feeling. I am still in contact with several of the people I met volunteering.

My trip was so wonderful, I have booked a new trip with GVI, and I would recommend these programs to any travelers looking to do some impactful work in different countries.

What was your funniest moment?
Watching a large male leopard walk within a few feet of the vehicle from us.
Default avatar
Holly
10/10
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!
Default avatar
Alicia
10/10
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.

Default avatar
Noémie
10/10
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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Alumni Interviews

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

Gaia Langella

Why did you choose this program?

After I finished high school, I was given the possibility to chose a trip among many destinations worldwide, paid thanks to a scholarship. I had always wanted to volunteer abroad and that sounded like the perfect chance. I love children and playing with them, so I chose a childcare program in Pokhara, Nepal, because it matched perfectly my desire to travel around the world, above all in Asia, which I find incredibly fascinating.

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

Both GVI and WEP have been perfect in providing help and information both before the departure and in loco. I had supervisors ready to answer every single question of mine about all the aspects of the journey. I was given advice about the flights to buy, accommodation for my days not on project, means of transport and everything I needed.

During the project, I was given the chance to challenge myself planning some activities to do with the kids on my own, and discuss them with the staff members. They were the most welcoming and understanding project-mates I could have ever asked for.

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

I would recommend making sure to bring everything necessary for the journey, but above all, to bring curiosity and an open mind. Volunteering abroad is definitely out of our comfort zone, and that's the magical thing. In the beginning, it may be difficult to adapt to a new routine, very different from the one we are used to. But after a while, you start feeling at home and days go so fast that your only regret is not to have planned to stay longer.

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

I used to teach in two different schools: the one in Pame and the one in Hemja. They are 30 minutes far from Pokhara in opposite directions.

We used to leave by bus after breakfast and, through a beautiful route by lake Phewa, we reached the school. Among the activities that we used to do with the kids, there were reading books and singing songs (which they actually loved).

Every day we showed up with a new activity for kindergarten and grade one. Then we used to have lunch and some sports time in the yard. After another afternoon activity, we used to go back to the homestay and plan some activities for the following days.

During the evenings and the weekends, we used to organize activities among volunteers (we also went paragliding!).

Two weeks really fly too fast.

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 scared of going that far from home completely alone, knowing no one, as a young European girl. My fears revealed to be completely useless since I got to know really lovely people, willing to be helpful and talk to foreigners.

Nepali people are the most welcoming and smiling human beings on earth, and there's really nothing to worry about in asking them if you need advice or got lost in Durbar square.

If you could do this trip again, what would you change?

If I had the chance to go back, I would plan to stay longer (one month or two). It would be perfect to have the possibility to extend the stay once you are already there. One of my favorite moments was when I heard about many stories about Indu tradition and religion from a local staff member who was on a project with me. My curiosity made me ask further and further information about that beautiful culture, and I enjoyed those moments of sharing very much.

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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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