Join our international team in the spectacular city of Cape Town and work with children from the local townships while developing teaching experience and qualifications on...
Play a hands-on role in the long-term conservation of African wildlife on this expedition. Enjoy first-class wildlife viewing and live on a game reserve in the heart of Southern...
Discover the world of marine conservation in Mexico's crystal Caribbean waters of the Yucatan Peninsula. Group members will earn their PADI Open Water diving qualification...
Nepal is a fascinating country, rich in culture, tradition and offers a variety of adventure activities. GVI’s teams are working closely with our local partners to contribute...
Use and improve your scuba diving skills while learning marine survey techniques when you join GVI's marine conservation expedition located in the Yucatan Peninsula. You
It is nice to know that I got to be a tiny part of that effort
Submitted by Liz - United States | September 28, 2016
I came to volunteer with GVI mainly because I wanted to visit Greece and experience the Greek culture. The conservation work wasn’t my primary interest but I thought I would try it out, as I had never done anything like the GVI Greece project before.
The best part of the project for me was THE NIGHT SURVEY!! Actually seeing the loggerheads lay their nests was a really rewarding experience that put the hard work of morning surveys and camp life into perspective. Seeing the loggerheads so up close was unexpectedly moving moment as I had gone into the survey thinking it wasn’t going to mean all that much to me.
The GVI staff and Archelon volunteers were very interesting people to meet. Although conservation isn’t where my passions lie, everyone had amazing life stories that I am happy I had the opportunity to hear.
GVI Greece taught me a lot more about sea turtles, obviously, but it also put into perspective how critical it is that we as humans start protecting our environment. Although I wouldn’t consider myself blatantly wasteful, I just haven’t cared that much about my impact on the environment beyond the basics of turning off my lights, composting, and recycling. This project definitely inspired me to take more initiative in reducing my carbon footprint even if it is to make only a small impact.
For sure I felt that the work I did here has made a difference. Everyone in Archelon and GVI has been talking about how this is the biggest season they have ever had due to their conservation efforts finally paying off. It is nice to know that I got to be a tiny part of that effort.
I would tell a friend to make sure that they are knowledgeable of the project and what exactly the work GVI Greece does. Although I am happy to have had this experience, I definitely feel that more information would have been really beneficial to me in terms of not being so shell-shocked by the workload and camp life.
look up to you all and admire the work you do-thank you
Submitted by Sofia - England | September 28, 2016
My main reason for volunteering was genuinely because I knew if I didn’t, I would just be sitting at home, watching Netflix, being lazy after GCSEs. Volunteering would make sure my holiday was worthwhile and memorable. Another reason for volunteering was because, of course, I love animals and being able to help turtles is wicked. I also really wanted to meet new people and enjoy a summer of fun with new friends.
The best part of the project was making new friends and the independence that is required to do the project. Making new friends is always fun but away from home makes it much more exhilarating because you can’t simply hide behind other familiar faces like old friends. The journey and process of making new friends is challenging, but exciting at the same time, and volunteering with GVI offers this opportunity. Also, it is much easier to make friends here than at school (for me, personally) because you actually share interests with people here and you all experience similar feelings of anxiety and excitement of this experience.
My favourite moment on the Greece project was sitting on the beach comfortably with people I can now truly call my family, enjoying the beautiful Greek sunset and reflecting on how fortunate we are to have been able to take part in this life-changing experience.
The GVI staff are all young, and they are therefore extremely easy to get on with. They are more like friends than staff, to be honest. They are just like the other volunteers, plus they have cool funny stories to share. The GVI and Archelon staff and volunteers are all passionate about their ‘jobs’, making it fun for GVI volunteers and creating great role models and inspirations.
Something I learned through this trip was that you don’t have to be academically strong to get on well in life-the key to a purposeful, happy, worthwhile life is enjoying what you do, not money nor reputation (hierarchy). The GVI staff’s mini presentations about their lives so far and how they got to this point are extremely insightful and inspirational because they reassure us volunteers that there is a future for everyone, regardless of wealth or reputation.
I felt that the work I have done It has, of course, saved many beautiful turtle lives, which will inevitably prevent, or at least prolong the possible extinction of these animals. This is a rewarding thing to be a part of and truly illustrates how I, as one young teenager in this big world can make a true difference.
If I had to say something to those thinking about joining this program its; Yes, yes, yes! I would tell them to prepare for the best summer they will ever have, for sure. That’s a very cliché thing to say, but hand on heart, it’s so true. I have bonded with the GVI volunteers here much better than I have with any of my so-called best friends at school because the GVI project puts you in a position to seek true friends. One trait required for the GVI program is trust-you need to be able to trust others, in order to make new friends and enjoy the whole experience. If things don’t go to plan (the tent is uncomfortable so you can’t sleep or you fall ill), there is absolutely no need to worry. The GVI staff are so supportive, even more so than my school staff (including the nurse), and they will go out of their way to ensure you experience is memorable, worthwhile and safe.
I can’t thank you awesome people any more than is possible to do with the English language. I would happily pour my heart out to you guys and thank you for this experience you have offered me with because this is genuinely the best holiday I have ever been on. It can be challenging at times, but that makes it all the more fun because it tests your trust in others and also makes you become a better strong person. In short, I could not ask any more of the GVI team and Archelon-please don’t change. I look up to you all and admire the work you do-thank you.
Do it! 100% just go for it…you won’t regret it!!!
Submitted by Zoe - Ireland | September 28, 2016
I thought to join this program because it would be a great experience where I could do something unique and worthwhile over the summer.
I loved meeting new people and being able to learn so much about sea turtles. It was an amazing experience where I was able to feel like I’d done something important.
My favourite moment was when I saw my first Sea Turtle. It was an incredible thing to watch, it was so special to be able to see the entire process and it gave me a much better understanding of what we were doing and how it made an impact.
It was great to work with the GVI staff they were so helpful and had amazing personalities; they went out of their way to make the experience enjoyable for everyone. The Archelon volunteers were really informative and were really helpful with helping us understand the lives of Sea Turtles. I have a much better understanding about the threats that are risking the lives of many marine animals and what we can do to help. I also learned that by protecting nests and tagging turtles it increases the chances of hatchlings living, it also has spread greater awareness about what we can all do to help.
Thank you so so so much GVI!!! This has been one of my greatest experiences and I wish I could never leave! You’ve all made this so amazing and I really appreciate you all going out of your way to make this so incredible for everyone!!!
I find it incredible how much I learnt and experienced
Submitted by Gabi - United Kingdom | September 28, 2016
Looking back on my trip to Mexico I find it incredible how much I learnt and experienced in just two weeks. We started by focusing on getting our PADI Open Water Diving Certificate which allows you to dive up to eighteen metres anywhere in the world. This qualification is the first step necessary in acquiring further more advanced qualifications which are required for certain fields in marine biology. I had never dived before, going in the sea for the first time with our bcds and tanks was very daunting descending down into dark blue not being able to see the bottom. The feeling of swimming along the coral reef was completely unique it is incomparable to anything I have done, it was both extremely terrifying and completely wonderful, staying underwater for an hour weightless and serene. In total we did 7 dives, each dive learning new things. On our second week we visited Pez Maya, GVI’s permanent over eighteen reserve in Sian Ka'an, it was originally a private fishing shack but it was destroyed by a hurricane. It is a massive reserve and has many amazing dive sites which only Pez Maya volunteers are allowed to go to.
Sea turtles played a leading role on this trip. We first saw them in Akumal, a sea turtle reserve, where we went snorkeling and watched them graze on seagrass. I had never seen sea turtles in the wild before; they have an overwhelming presence of calmness. Over the two weeks we were given a variety of different lectures by our guides and guest speakers and even presented our own to the rest of the group for us to develop our understanding of the organisms we were seeing, the declining state of the ecosystem in the Yucatan Peninsula and the measures NGOs were going to to educate communities and improve the condition of the local environment. I learnt so much from them because I could immediately relate what I was learning about to the things I was seeing. We were taught about sea turtles, whale sharks, coral reefs, fishing sustainability, biorock, the issue of lionfish in the caribbean, conservation projects and organisations.
On this trip we were immersed by Mexican culture. Our trip leader Lluvia was Mexican and had been living in Playa del Carmen and working for GVI Mexico for many years. On one day we began by going to El Grande Cenote, a beautiful turquoise underground reservoir with small fish and tiny turtles. After having a typical Mexican lunch by a lagoon filled with alligators we went to visit Mayan ruins in Coba. The ruins were surrounded by jungle and some even covered by them. We climbed to the top of the pyramid and overlooked the vast expanse of green. Later we visited a Mayan village whose residents spoke Mayan rather than Mexican. They had spider monkeys, deer, guati and chickens as ‘pets’. A family demonstrated a ritual song for us, burning incense, drumming and singing. What these experiences taught me is how rewarding travelling is, being able to get acquainted with completely different cultures. Marine biology can unlock this opportunity of travel, in a very unique way.
This project allowed me to experience what life could be like if I became a marine biologist. We took a boat for an hour to go and see whale sharks to snorkel with them. A National Geographic boat passed us on the way, a coincidence that showed me the possibility of my future. Whale sharks went to this spot in the sea to feed off tuna eggs. We were expecting to see only a handful of whale sharks but nature is amazingly unpredictable and we ended up swimming with more than one hundred and fifty. The whale sharks’ speckled grey-blue forms swam around me moving their tail slowly and intentionally with power which propelled them deceivingly quickly. Being so close to the largest fish in the sea is an indescribable feeling and completely humbling. That experience summarises how I feel about the whole trip, it made my ideas about a future in biology and conservation seem more than just fabrications but realistic possibilities. I pushed myself in Mexico to do things that initially I would have been too scared to do and I am so glad I did. This trip is the first step I am making down my path studying biology, I now have a better understanding of what both working with biology and conservation requires and what rewarding fields they can be.
I am incredibly fortunate to have had this experience with GVI
Submitted by Leah - United States | September 28, 2016
I have been very lucky that during my time with GVI I have been able to work with a lot of incredible women. I believe empowering women sometimes is just hearing their story and sharing your experiences with them so they know that there are lots of women from all different backgrounds that come together to make a difference. From some of the special teachers I have made relationships through working in schools with GVI to girls that I have gotten to know in the communities I have worked in, I have had an opportunity to meet some amazing women. While I worked with GVI Cape Town I created a women’s empowerment group through teaching young girls creative photography.
It has always been a dream of mine to teach Fine Art photography. Not at a traditional western standard but to give someone an opportunity to learn something that they may have not been given the opportunity at any other point in their lives. When I arrived at GVI Cape Town the dream became a reality. Within my first couple weeks I was having meetings with out base manager and she made it happen for me.
When I first approached the Grade Seven teachers at ACJ Primary School in the township Nomzamo they were very supportive of the program. One teacher said it would be great for the girls to learn that there are other careers outside of hair dressing in the world. When I first met the girls they were very unsure about what we were going to do but were very eager to learn. On our first day I taught them about the history of photography and why photography is important as a means of art and communication. They understood the importance of when to take a photograph and more importantly how to made a decision about what they are photographing.
Our first time photographing as a group, we went to a local beach. One of the girls admitted to me that she had never seen the ocean in her life. When we got to the beach I discussed with them all the different types of photography, in particular taking portraits. I explained if they take a portrait of a stranger they must ask permission. There was a part of me that was worried about these girls photographing Afrikaans strangers, but to my surprise the strangers were very accepting and supportive. After photographing I asked the girls what it was like to interact with people they have never interacted with and they said they didn’t expect them to be so nice. Having these girls go outside of their comfort zone to be creative was really an incredible thing. To me, that is women’s empowerment.
In the end, the girls took some stunning photographs that I believe tell an incredible story. The photographs from the beach, as well as photographs they took at their school came together to tell a story without them even realizing what they did. The staff at the school was very supportive to the girls telling them to save their money to buy their own cameras as well as praising them for creating such beautiful art. I was very impressed that the teachers and staff saw the photographs that way.
It was interesting working with the women as well as these bright girls. I learned there is a lot in my life that I am fortunate to have and most of all it the fact that I have the ability to do anything that I put my mind to. Though the reality is I may never meet any of these women again, they all impacted me in a special way and I am incredibly fortunate to have had this experience with GVI.