Visit GVI's website to learn more about their programs abroad
GVI is an award-winning organisation that tackles critical local and global issues by operating education and training programs on sustainable development projects around the world. All our programmes are run in in partnership with acclaimed international partners like Save The Children, WWF, The Red Cross, PADI, Project AWARE, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the National Parks of South Africa, Costa Rica, Seychelles, Mexico and Thailand, among others.
Formed in 1998, we have been operating our award-winning programmes for over two decades and over 25,000 participants have volunteered or interned with us. GVI consists of a vibrant group of friendly staff members who regard each other as family and passionately work together towards making a difference in the world.Write a review
By Sarah Vandenberg
Director of Partnerships
Sarah has worked in the volunteer travel industry since 2004. She supports all of our partners, and shares stories, trends, and advice for travelers who want to volunteer, intern, or teach abroad.
Global Vision International (GVI) is an award-winning organization offering conservation and community development programs. Founded in 1998, GVI places more than 2,500 travelers on volunteer and intern abroad programs each year.
53 Participant reviewsWrite a review
Please don't go volunteer with GVI!!! I booked the Coastal Conservation program on Curiseuse Island, Seychelles and what can I say - I got totally screwed by GVI! I was supposed to start my 3-week volunteer work at the beginning of May. Almost 4 weeks before I was contacted by GVI and asked for a timely phone call, because they wanted to tell me something. On the phone, a "minor change" regarding the program was then announced, as at short notice the accommodation on Curieuse Island had to be closed due to renovation work. The program should then take place at the GVI base on Mahé in Cap Ternay. Since I knew that the Marine Conservation program takes place there and the main stock there is diving, I immediately asked if I would then be integrated into this - completely different - program. Since I do not have a diving license and am not allowed to dive at all for medical reasons, this was crucial information for me. I was assured that everything would be exactly as it should be on Curieuse. Only turtles would not be there. I also asked if the other volunteers (when I signed up, I was told that there were already 10 volunteers signed up in my time period) would also be there, or if some had cancelled due to the change of location. I was promised that I would not have to worry. Not only will the program be the same, but all the other volunteers would be there. It's just a different island. That should be fine with me then, besides it was all very short notice now and I had already booked flights and made travel arrangements. Arrived in Cap Ternay was one of the first sentences said to me: Hey Mila, super cool, you are currently the only volunteer in the Coastal Conservation Program! Super cool? Probably the opposite! At first I didn't think too much about it, because others from the Marine Conservation Program were also on the base. After the first few days I quickly realized that this is unfortunately a huge difference, because the others had other tasks and were on dives with the boat most of the time, I had little opportunity to get to know the others and spent most of the time alone in the camp. I had only 2 tasks during the day, which were done after 1.5 - 2 hours. The rest of the day I had nothing to do. The tasks were also definitely not the ones that were described. Since there were no supervisors for the Coastal Program in the base, the impression of a temporary solution arose very quickly and from conversations I overheard that the missing tasks were also due to a lack of material, since the base was originally designed for a completely different program, the Marine Conservation Program. So I was mainly supposed to help a student who collected data there for his PhD on mangroves. I definitely did not pay 3,000€ for that!!! The Coastal Conservation program touts working with turtles as its core focus. From a conversation with a supervisor I learned that this work would not have taken place on Curieuse at all, because at that time there was no season for sea turtles. Also from this info nowhere a trace on the website or the info materials of the program, which were sent to me. I have heard from other volunteers that I am not the only one who has been affected. All Coastal Conservation participants before me, who were also affected by the change, left the base earlier because they were totally frustrated. This also explains why instead of the original 10 volunteers, I was suddenly the only one. I also learned that GVI already knew about the closure of the base on Curieuse since February, but only informed the volunteers, like me, about the change shortly before departure. I decided after consultation with the supervisors on site to end the program earlier, because all this is simply an impertinence! To offer a program that no longer exists and to let people make the long journey to the Seychelles without a guilty conscience! In addition, without batting an eye, to demand far too expensive prices and then not even tell the truth! Currently, I am now trying for almost 2 months to get my money back, but GVI shows not a bit cooperative and ignores almost all attempts to contact me on my part. This appearance is absolutely not professional and unserious. Also under the aspect that it is supposed to be a non-profit organization. Unfortunately, my experience is not an isolated case. I am in exchange with other former volunteers who report exactly the same behavior of GVI.
I have now volunteered with GVI twice - in Seychelles and South Africa on wildlife conservation projects, both experiences were genuinely life changing. The staff are incredible, providing support from the very beginning, and the people that you meet become life-long friends because they are all like-minded individuals looking to make a difference. I had very little knowledge and no experience of wildlife conservation before volunteering with GVI but that didn't affect my contribution and experience. GVI have provided the tools I need to start a career in conservation if I want to. 10000% recommend to anyone looking to give back while travelling, have a career break and learn something new, or gain valuable experience for a career. I am now receiving regular job updates from GVI and I am planning another trip with GVI next year.
I participated in the construction volunteer program based in Pokhara, Nepal and had an enlightening experience. From the moment that GVI Nepal representatives met us at the airport in Pokhara, I felt safe. This stood out to me mainly because when first looking for volunteer organizations I read that: "GVI's number one priority is safety". This was reassuring and true throughout my time in Nepal, thousands of miles away from my home. One of my favorite aspects of the program was that it was structured. Each day we had an agenda that the GVI representatives and our team had come up with based on respect for the community and environment we worked in. GVI's influence in the town we visited was not abrasive or controlling, nor was there any savior mentality attached to the work our group was doing. In no way did working for GVI feel like a mission trip, and that's what I valued the most about my experience. I knew that working with GVI was promoting a long term sustainable development project, that relied very heavily on communication and collaboration with the community where projects were centered. Every day was a new adventure. Our project lasted for roughly two weeks renovating a government school. When we first started, the classrooms had old paint jobs, huge spider webs (and kind of enormous spiders!) on the walls, cockroaches on the floors, and most of the benches designed for students to sit on were broken. We painted all the walls of the classrooms, deeply swept and washed all of the walls and floors. Some of the adults in our team worked on fixing the seats. Throughout each day on the project, I became much closer to my team. I formed lifelong friendships and relationships that I value and maintain today. I fell in love with the parts of Nepal that I was exposed to. The rooftop of the hotel we stayed at felt like a second home, the endless fields of glimmering rice paddies along all of the roads, the delicious vegetarian meals, the kind greetings we received everywhere we went, the luminous mountains you could see from anywhere. Participating in this program through GVI allowed me to experience Nepal safely, respectfully and mindfully. After this trip, my view on global travel drastically changed. Our GVI representatives emphasized the importance of respectful visitation and having a constant awareness of your impact with a person, environment, or community as a whole. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to spend time in Nepal and learn about Nepali culture while experiencing some aspects first hand. Going to Nepal and experiencing its intense beauty lit a fire inside of me. Through this volunteer trip with GVI, I learned a lot about my passions and future career ideas. So much so that I registered for another program for a longer duration of time, teaching in Nepal this summer. Overall this was an incredible experience with no bumps or mishaps; My time in Nepal taught me many valuable lessons.
Hi! I’m Ryan Kennedy, and I spent ten weeks volunteering in GVI Elephant Project in Huay Pakoot, Chiang Mai. I was currently studying at university and off for the summer, so I decided very early on that I wanted to do some volunteering abroad and experience the culture. I was conceivably nervous as it was my first time travelling solo. I went ahead after some research and found GVI when I decided to book.
On arrival, all my nerves were quelled as soon as I met up with staff member Myles and two other volunteers. Immediately I felt welcomed and excited to arrive at the village. On arrival at the village and after getting settled in time passed so quickly and every day was so enjoyable. It was such a pleasant experience ethically seeing the elephants and getting to interact with the volunteers/staff and the local villagers. The village itself was hard to describe. I believe all the volunteers agreed we would miss it dearly. The elephant hikes where the reason I came, and they did not disappoint. I felt I learned so much more with the data collection and local biodiversity hikes.
After many weeks it was nearing my time to return home. After spending so much time there it began to feel like a second home, and I began to get very comfortable there. Had it not been for University starting again I would’ve extended my stay without a doubt. Overall the most fantastic experience I’ve ever had, and I can’t thank GVI enough for the great staff and friends for life that I’ve made.
On returning home, my entire mindset had changed. I am more aware of how I can promote change at a local level and continue work in conservation. I still feel very connected to the village. The whole experience was an absolute blast and I cannot wait to return this June!
During my holidays I chose to go 3 weeks in Thailand including 2 in a "useful" way by being a volunteer for GVI Phang Nga.
As a nature lover, I opted for the Conservation program, this experience allowed me to learn about the various species on which we work: green turtles, birds, butterflies, coral ... but also, to make nice meetings with people with different life projects. The members of GVI on site are really passionate, listening, it was a pleasure to be with them and help them in their projects.
I think that beach cleaning has made me even more aware of my environmental impact and the really negative impact of plastic on our Earth.
And I also discovered the UN Sustainable Development Goals shared by GVI, which I did not know and which gives hope for our future.
These 2 weeks were very rich in terms of learning, relational, discovery, today back in France I want to get involved and help GVI to be known and I know that GVI will be again a choice for my next vacation!
Thank you for this amazing experience GVI.
Follow my adventures : https://www.instagram.com/petitbackpack
My daughter (16) and myself recently spent 4 weeks at Huay Pakoot, the GVI Hub located outside Chiang Mai, the experience was life-changing for both of us.
GVI from first contact were incredibly helpful even after I realized well after booking (May 2018) that I had asked for the wrong dates they were able to rectify my mistake without any fuss and did not make me feel at all a total nuisance-thankyou again Sheree!
Well, we arrived at Huay Pakoot at about 8pm on 29/12/18 and were made to feel welcome before we even stepped out of the van, given a quick introduction then taken to meet our homestay family.
The first week was a blur as we got used to the routine and met all the people we would then spend the next 4 weeks with...our first hike was to meet the elephant Bulawoun who we absolutely loved, we did a welfare check on him that first day and I will never forget the thrill of being so close to this beautiful creature even though it was only to observe certain health features (for our safety GVI Chiang Mai have very strict rules when you are taking data on the elephants)
Each day gave us something new to experience, exploring caves, helping with the corn harvest, THE FOOD, gardening, teaching at the school, listening to educational presentations(if you wanted), relaxing, playing games, watching the sunset, biodiversity walks where we were asked to photograph for example: butterflys so much!
You could do as much or as little as you wanted...
We have been back now 3 weeks, I cannot settle into the priviledged life we live here in Australia, everyone should experience this young and old, thankyou GVI.