Volunteering

Volunteer with Children in Thailand

Teach English to children in Southern Thailand.

Durations: 1 - 12 weeks
Fieldwork hours35 hrs of fieldwork per week
Participant ratio1:6 staff to participant ratio
GVI experiencesIncludes GVI Experiences

Program information

Join us in Phang Nga, Thailand to teach English to students ranging from kindergarten to senior school level. You will be supported by our TEFL trained staff as you learn how to plan and deliver fun and impactful lessons, and develop your skills in teaching, leadership, teamwork and classroom management.

Contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, UN SDG, #4, Quality Education and #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, by teaching young students English in Thailand’s province of Phang Nga, world-renowned for its breathtaking natural landscape.

There’s no better time than now. Make it happen!

Up to 20% off when you book and pay by 30 June
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Travel flexibility. Transfer for free up to 45 days before travel. Because life happens. Terms and conditions apply.
Overview
Dates & Prices
Itinerary
What's Included
Life On Base
Experiences
New
Free time & cultural immersion
Speak to alumni
MEET THE TEAM
Parent Info
Arrivals &
Flights
Your Impact
publications
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Support & Safety

Program overview

Thailand’s popularity among international visitors means that local employers often look for English language fluency when hiring local staff. As a volunteer teacher on this GVI education program in Phang Nga, you have the opportunity to contribute to UN SDGs, #4 Quality Education, and #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth while developing your own teaching, leading, and teamwork abilities.

Volunteers on this teaching program in Thailand will live with other GVI participants in the village of Ban Nam Khem, in Phang Nga province, an area renowned for its natural beauty. After a five hour introduction to methods used for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, TEFL, as well as training on Thai customs, classroom management, and lesson planning, volunteers on this Thailand teaching program will go on to assist local teachers with teaching conversational English classes. Volunteers have the opportunity to teach a range of students, from those at a local kindergarten all the way up to primary school level, at a diverse range of institutions including formal government educational institutions and informal community centres. You might also get involved leading after school activities like art and craft sessions to develop the fine motor skills of children or sports lessons to develop their gross motor skills. Throughout the program, volunteers will be able to observe classes being conducted by experienced teachers and receive regular feedback from TEFL qualified GVI staff. There will also be the opportunity to teach English to members of the community.

Highlights

Your career as a teacher
Your career as a teacher
Working with local students and schools in Thailand, develop teaching skills as well as other transferable career skills like communication, resilience and teamwork.
Immerse yourself in Thai culture
Immerse yourself in Thai culture
Be welcomed into a beautiful community, where you will learn to speak the language, cook the food, practice traditional Buddhism and develop intercultural perspectives.
Get immersed in the community
Get immersed in the community
Don’t just travel like a tourist. Become part of the local community and culture to experience a unique way of living – authentically.
Contribute to enduring impact
Contribute to enduring impact
Support and empower ongoing community development projects on the ground that are led by inspiring local NGOs.
Join locally-led initiatives
Join locally-led initiatives
Partner with social impact projects that are owned and led by local organisations who guide initiatives according to community priorities.
Use your skills for good
Use your skills for good
Your unique expertise, skills and interests are matched to relevant community projects that address specific challenges.
Make friends for life
Make friends for life
Share meaningful experiences with like-minded, passionate changemakers from all over the globe.
Enjoy a hassle-free, safe trip
Enjoy a hassle-free, safe trip
With expert local staff, excellent reviews and 24/7 support at every step – you can relax and enjoy the experience stress-free.

Activities

Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.

Teacher training
Teacher training
Learn about creating and managing project procedures, setting project objectives and facilitating community workshops.
School English classes
School English classes
Teach English classes in local schools and learning centres. You might also conduct summer camps and workshops throughout our network of partnerships.
Adult English classes
Adult English classes
Working with our local and wider community to improve employability and boost access to economic opportunity, you will facilitate a number of varied adult classes.
Support community project work
Support community project work
Depending on the needs of the community, additional project work might include delivering environmental educational workshops, adult education workshops and early childhood development.
Professional development
Professional development
Get crucial career-building exposure working and communicating within a diverse team and specific local contexts.
Personal development
Personal development
Develop self-awareness, leadership, resilience and confidence, with support and advice from experienced GVI staff members.
Free time
Free time
In your free time on the weekend, visit some of Thailand’s beautiful islands, or relax in a nearby resort.

Skills

  • Community empowerment
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Social issues
  • Student engagement
  • Teaching English as a second language
  • Teaching workshops

Partners

Some of the partners we work with on base.

New Light Foundation
Foundation for Education & Development
Go So Nor

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

That summer feeling!

Up to 20% off selected programs.

Book and pay by 30 June to claim offer.
Payment plans. Flexible payment plans allow you to pay in instalments.

What happens next?

Once you apply, a personal Enrollment Manager will be assigned to walk you through the rest of the process.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

07:00

Prepare and enjoy breakfast with the team before getting stuck into some base duties.

08:00

Start project work. Depending on your program, this will include lesson planning, teaching or workshops.

12:00

Lunch is enjoyed as a group. Depending on your schedule, you’ll either have lunch out or on base.

13:00

Continue with project work. This may be more lessons, after school clubs, marking exams or creating resources.

17:00

Return to base. Enjoy some free time or assist with base duties.

18:00

Enjoy a meal together. Dinner is prepared by a local cook – a chance to enjoy Thai and western style foods.

19:00

After dinner, it’s common to have reflection sessions to discuss the work we did that day.

20:00

Time to relax. Spend time with your new friends, play a game or study.

What’s included?

What's included
General
Food
Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
Airport pick up (unless stated)
All project equipment
24-hour in-country support from local staff
24-hour emergency desk
GVI Experiences
Activities
Sustainable project work
Data collection and research
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed specialisation course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
What's excluded
Not included
Flights
International and domestic airport taxes
Medical and travel insurance
Visa costs
Police or background check
Personal items and toiletries
Additional drinks and gratuities

Life On Base

Our GVI base is located in the heart of a small fishing village named Ban Nam Khem, which is about one and half hours from Phuket airport, and about half an hour from the popular resort town of Khao Lak. Situated within the Phang Nga province, this region was the worst affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It’s estimated that almost half of Ban Nam Khem’s residents lost their lives in the tsunami, and today there is a famous memorial dedicated to them. Though steeped in tragedy, the people of the village refuse to be defined by their loss. The community has rebuilt itself and grown substantially since then.

Participating in this GVI program in Phang Nga offers you the chance to slow down and experience living and working in a traditional Thai community, tucked away from the usual busy tourist hotspots. The base is a short ten-minute walk from the beach and a fifteen-minute walk from the centre of the village – where you’ll find little markets, shops and street food vendors that are open daily. When you’re out and about, you’ll often be joined by Tiger, the friendly village dog who lives across the road. He loves to tag along on adventures and visit the base. You will share a house that includes communal spaces – here you can learn and relax with our GVI staff and other participants from all around the world. On the weekends, you can explore the numerous stunning beaches, islands, caves, and national forests that the Phang Nga region is renowned for.

Accommodation

Our house is situated within Ban Nam Khem village. There is a lovely coffee shop on one side and a beautiful jungle on the other. You will stay in mixed-gender, dorm-style accommod...

Transportation

On the morning of your program start date, a transfer will be provided from Phuket Airport Place to the GVI base. A five-minute walk from the airport exit, the Phuket Airport Place...

Communication

Wi-Fi is available at the base, but bear in mind it might not be as reliable as you might be used to back home. If you plan on working remotely while completing a program with us, ...

Meals

This program gives you the opportunity to experience authentic Southern Thai cuisine, while still having the chance to share some of your own favourite meals from back home. You’ll...

Climate

Thailand has a famously tropical climate, the perfect weather in which to enjoy Thailand’s many beaches. The temperature ranges from 22°C – 34°C (72°F – 93°C) throughou...

Culturally appropriate dress and behaviour

When doing project work and spending time in the local town, you will be expected to wear modest clothing, and behave in ways that are in accordance with Thai customs. Loose-fittin...

GVI experiences included in your program, at no extra cost.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!

We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards –  the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development.

Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.

Learn to make traditional Thai and Burmese food
A flavour infusion
Visit the Buddhist temples of Ban Nam Khem
Temple tour
Practice traditional Thai yoga massage
Master Muay Thai self-defence techniques
Kick, flex and stretch
Raft along the Sok River
Gondola style
Hike to hidden waterfalls
Pathway to tranquility
Visit an untouched mangrove island
Off the beaten track
Sleep in a floating river bungalow
River of dreams

Free time & cultural immersion

By joining a GVI program, you not only have the opportunity to work in collaboration with local communities, you also get the chance to explore the surrounding area or venture further to see what else the region has to offer on weekends.

Our field staff are a great source of advice on local travel options. Many participants choose to travel before or after their experience, solidifying friendships made on the program. 

Engaging with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in today’s world. Cultural immersion is encouraged, and there are many activities to enjoy during your free time or before and after your program. Please note, these suggestions aren’t included in the program fee and are at your own expense.

Festivals

February: Magha Puja is an important Buddhist holiday during which people make offerings at temples around the country. April and May: Thailand’s New Year, also known as Songkran, ...

Spirituality and religion

Most Thai people subscribe to Theravada Buddhism. There are many local Buddhist sites in the region of Phang Nga that you can visit to learn more about Buddhist customs. Travel to ...

Dancing

The fluid movements and opulent gilded costumes of Thai traditional dancing are recognisable worldwide. Learn about the six types of Thai classical dance, watch a performance, or m...

Cooking

Thai food is famous the world over and is known for its fragrant, spicy flavours. All participants receive cooking lessons from our local staff, so during your stay in Phang Nga yo...

Languages

There are about 71 languages in Thailand with five main families: Austronesian, Hmong-Mien, Thai, Mon-Khmer and Sino-Tibetan. Thai is the national language of Thailand which is spo...

Phang Nga

Known for its amazing limestone rock formations, pristine beaches, and rich culture, Phang Nga is a pocket of paradise in Southern Thailand. Its beaches and islands offer many oppo...

Weekend trips

Island hopping

The Similan and Surin Island groups are both protected Marine National Parks. They are home to several world-renowned diving and snorkelling spots, but can only be visited between ...

Khao Lak

This is a very popular tourist spot. It’s filled with seemingly endless beaches, so many dining options you will be spoilt for choice, and hundreds of spas offering massages and tr...

Khao Sok National Park

Said to be more diverse than the Amazon, this 740 square metre rainforest reserve is home to elephants, deer, monkeys, lizards, birds, and the Rafflesia, a giant flowering plant wi...

Further travels

Phuket Island and city

Phuket is a tourism hotspot – as popular for its spectacular beaches, diving, and surfing sites, as it is for its cafés, boutiques and hotels. You can also visit The Big Buddha, a ...

Krabi province

This province is a treasure trove for travellers. Enjoy the crystal-clear Emerald Pond, the epic 1,237-step climb  to the Buddha statue, the stunning views at the Tiger Temple Cave...

Beaches

Thailand boasts some of the top beach destinations in the world, with Railay beach being one of the most popular. A peninsula on the Andaman coast, it consists of three separate be...

Phang Nga Bay

Explore the warm turquoise waters and limestone cliffs of Phang Nga by speedboat or sea kayak, stopping off at James Bond Island – made famous by the 1974 film The Man With the Gol...

Mu Koh Chang National Park

This protected marine park covers a huge area, including over 50 islands. Visit the jungle island of Koh Chang, where you can snorkel or scuba-dive off the coast and experience the...

Koh Tao Island

Also known as “‘Turtle Island”’ this is another excellent destination for snorkelling and scuba-diving, or simply relaxing on the beach. The visibility is fantastic and there is an...

Nan Province

Explore the many natural sites of Nan, bordering Laos – like Doi Phu Kha National Park and Si Nan National Park. It is the perfect area to experience the dense natural forests that...

Khao Yai National Park

Explore the picturesque waterfalls of Khao Yai in central Thailand. Here you can spot unique Thai wildlife like gibbon monkeys.

Ayuthaya

Travel to the city complex ruins of Ayutthaya to learn more about Thailand’s heritage. This spectacular, but now abandoned city used to be the medieval capital of Siam.

Chiang Mai

Set in the verdant mountainsides of Northern Thailand, the golden city of Chiang Mai is a breathtaking sight to behold. Visit historic temples and hunt for treasures at local marke...

Bangkok

There is a reason why the capital of Thailand is one of the most visited sites in the country. Featuring gorgeous temples, the spectacular Grand Palace, and many excellent shopping...

Speak to alumni

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Get a first-hand perspective

Meet us

Meet the team

Get acquainted with the GVI Asia, Thailand, Phang Nga family

Adele

Community Coordinator

Meet Adele our Community Coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand. She is originally from the United Kingdom, but loves her life in Thailand living next to a beautiful beach, enjoying ...

Katie

Senior Program Coordinator

Meet Katie, the Senior Program Coordinator at GVI Phang Nga. She has an undergraduate degree in geography and a master’s degree in sustainability. She is in charge of runn ...

Vanessa Rees

Senior Program Manager

This is Vanessa, she is originally from the UK and joined GVI back in 2017 when she was completing a teaching program in India. Since this volunteering expedition ...

Gay

Community Liaison

Introducing Gay, who is our Community Liaison out in Phang Nga. Gay has studied business management as part of her master’s degree. She started her journey w ...

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Arrivals

We meet you at the airport.

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.

As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals.

We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile.

This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.

Flights

Find your flights with our partner, Student Universe.
Flights are not included in your program fee
Visit Student Universe

Please note that if you use this service delivered by Student Universe and / or if you buy your ticket through this portal you are agreeing to the Student Universe Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. Your agreement regarding flights will be between you and Student Universe or as per their terms and conditions.

As GVI is providing this portal as a service we are not responsible for the accuracy of this site.

We are also not responsible for any loss, damage (including loss of profits or consequential damages), injury, illness, harm or death in relation to your flight and travel arrangements.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Environmental Education

Conservation starts with education. Throughout the year, we conduct environmental awareness workshops at local schools, hotels, tour and dive operations, and elsewhere in the local community when an opportunity presents itself. We run an after-hours conservation club at our partner schools. These workshops aim to educate students on the importance of protecting the mangroves, ocean and wildlife, as well as reducing plastic use and pollution of the environment.

Community Work

Ban Nam Khem, meaning “Place of Salty Water”, became the epicentre of a tin mining boom in the 1950s. At its peak, the population grew from a few families to approximately 5,000 people. When all the tin was extracted from the surrounding mines, the mining bubble burst.  All that remains of the industry are lakes dotted around the village, marking where mines were dug and never filled. Today most people earn a living from fishing, but many seek alternative livelihoods in the nearby tourist hub of Khao Lak.

Thailand, like many countries in Southeast Asia, suffered greatly in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26th December 2004. Phang Nga, the province in which Ban Nam Khem is located, was one of the most severely affected in the country. Many villagers lost their homes, relatives, and friends. Although much progress has been made, there is still a need for community redevelopment and regeneration.

The GVI Phang Nga base was established  in September 2012 with the aim of supporting the continued redevelopment of Ban Nam Khem and increasing access to employment opportunities through capacity-building initiatives. A large development planned for Khao Lak will make it an even more popular tourist destination in the years to come.  Three-, four- and five-star hotels are currently being developed, which will likely significantly impact the landscape of the surrounding communities in the future, including Ban Nam Khem.

The local community’s efforts to diversify employment markets remain central to its well-being. Ban Nam Khem is well positioned to take advantage of the tourism boom in this region, but the community members need a good level of conversational English to enable them access to the corresponding employment opportunities. English language skills can also assist community members in the Thai workplace and the international economy. 

Ban Nam Khem boasts its own primary school with an enrollment of around 250 children, and a Community Development Centre which offers free education during the day for around 150 children who live in the village. There are also free after-school classes that are available to everyone.

English Education Program

Throughout the year we work with a variety of local schools and age groups, from kindergarten to seniors. We assist local teachers with running classes to improve conversational and written English. This might include leading English classes, training local teachers, assisting with lesson development, and providing one-on-one tutoring sessions for learners requiring additional support. We also assist with conversational and professional English lessons for adult learners from the community in order to improve employability and job prospects. We offer both beginner and advanced level classes to adults. During the school holidays, we take part in other community activities and run summer camps – which allows children to continue learning, and provides a safe place for them to go while their parents are at work.

Construction Projects

When they require our support, we assist educational and community centers around Ban Nam Khem and further afield with infrastructure development. We conduct basic maintenance and renovation work, like painting, maintaining fences, building school gardens, making desks, and improving the overall physical learning environment.

Public Health Project

Based on their needs, we run regular health workshops at local schools and in the community. These include workshops on dental hygiene, nutrition, general well-being, women’s and men’s health, and anti-smoking campaigns. We also conduct frequent health checks within the community and educate community members on health management. We provide free basic health education around obesity, which is an increasing problem in Thailand. In schools, we focus on hygiene by promoting hand-washing routines from an early age. We also conduct bi-monthly early childhood development testing focused largely on motor and sensory skills.

Project objectives

 

GVI Phang Nga long-term objectives:  

1. Provide equal, quality education to children from all backgrounds.

2. Promote good health and well-being of the local community members through education.

3. Improve the English skills of the local community, allowing them access to equal employment opportunities in the communities of Takuapa and Ban Nam Khem.

4. Increase awareness of environmental issues within the local community and facilitate change towards sustainability through education.

Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.

All of our publications are on Google Scholar
Google Scholar
View publications
GVI Thailand Phang Nga 2019 Annual Report
Annual Report
Author(s)
Vanessa Rees
GVI Thailand Phang Nga Annual Report 2018
Annual Report
2018
Author(s)
Vanessa Rees
‘CBT: Community Based Tourism in Ao Luk.’
Tourism Magazine
2010

Krabi Magazine

Author(s)
Jill Walker
‘Ko Klang Experience.’
Tourism Magazine
2011

Krabi Magazine

Author(s)
David Armstrong
‘GVI: Education, Conseration and Community Development in Ao Luk.’
Tourism Magazine
2010

Krabi Magazine

Author(s)
Jill Walker

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.

 

We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.

Our 10 ethical commitments

01

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.

03

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.

04

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.

07

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.

08

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.

10

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

Program ethics

No entertainment-based activities

We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos

No orphaned animal sanctuaries

We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases

Guidelines for touching or movement restriction

When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Animal welfare guidelines

We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.

Local community empowerment

We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.

Learn more
No veterinary programs

We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.

Learn more
No orphanage programs

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

Learn more
Child and vulnerable adult protection policy

Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.

Learn more
No medical volunteering

We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.

Learn more
No disability support programs

We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.

Learn more

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.

For all GVI participants

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.

For all participants at Phang Nga

Community: Human Empowerment

Learn about our empowerment principles.

Conservation: Survey Techniques and Logistics

An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.

Conservation: Biodiversity & Target Species Identification

Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.

Marine Conservation: Pollution and Plastics

Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.

Marine Conservation: Coral Reefs

Learn about what a coral reef is, its importance, how it is formed, how this ecosystem works.

The Importance of Responsible Tourism in Thailand

This presentation highlights the environmental issues caused by tourism to Thailand and helps volunteers make responsible decisions when deciding whether or not to engage in a wildlife encounter.

Introduction to Thai Language

Learn some basic Thai words and phrases which will help you integrate further into the village community.

Introduction to Thai Culture

A Thai culture presentation to help you understand more about important cultural details, and to make you feel more comfortable with any cultural differences you may encounter.

Certificates & qualifications

GVI Online Community Development course (optional)

In this course, you’ll explore the most common pitfalls of community development initiatives so that you can avoid them. You’ll also learn how to carry out community development work effectively and ethically and how local context impacts program development. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.

This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.

Safety

View support and safety protocols

Support

View risk mitigation

Health and safety case studies

How GVI upholds health and safety

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just ...

GVI's commitment to safety and security

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health ...

How GVI remains prepared for natural disasters

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a n...

How GVI manages participants expectations

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations arou...
Included in your program, at no extra cost.

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to make traditional Thai and Burmese food