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Thailand Elephant Wildlife Conservation Short Term Internship

Explore the beautiful region of the Chiang Mai province and its semi wild elephants, while gaining practical skills on our your Wildlife Conservation Internship.

Program Code: THCM0452N

Program Information

Surrounded by beautiful forests, ornate temples and lush mountainous scenery, you will live and work amongst the famous Karen elephant-keeping communities who are renowned for the unique and sacred bond they have shared with elephants for hundreds of years. Discover this fascinating culture while monitoring the reintegration of elephants relieved from the tourist industry back into the forest, learning about the biodiversity of the area and teaching English to the local community.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

 
Remote-Working Friendly
 
Reliable WIFI
 
Part-Time Options

Research Internship

 

Get out of the library or the lab. Visit a remote research base to get the data needed to complete your thesis or research paper.


Learn more 

Career Internship

 

Want to land a job working for a purpose-driven organisation or kickstart your career in an impact-focused field?


Learn more 

Core Internship

 

Travel with ambition and purpose. Make a positive environmental or social impact and gain experience in an impact-focused role or sector.


Learn more 

Overview

Gain unique insight and become immersed in the culture of Thailand’s traditional elephant-keeping communities while contributing to this multi-focused program. The internship gives you the opportunity to gain work experience in three different aspects: elephant research, community development (teaching), and biodiversity.

The community development aspect will focus on teaching English to children at the local school, homestay families, and the elephant keepers (mahouts). You will also be involved in supporting community efforts to reduce their financial dependence on their elephants.

The biodiversity program involves surveying and identifying reptiles, mammals, insects and birds in the local area using different techniques. The elephant programme consists of leading elephant health checks, studying the behaviour of the herd, educating others about Asian elephants and reintegrating captive elephants into the protected forests.

The rotation between the different programs affords you a variety of experiences and the opportunity to get involved with the different aspects of the programs, while at the same time giving you a broad range of professional skills and experience for your future career. The internship encourages participants to develop their own ideas and introduce new aspects to help further their contribution to the conservation of an incredible species. Interns will be given specific leadership responsibilities as well a weekly assignments and evaluation from their mentors, who will monitor their progress throughout their stay at the hub.

After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for GVI or selected partner organisations in Thailand, or in other countries around the world where GVI operate. Over 50% of GVI staff are recruited from our alumni database. Qualification for positions is at the sole discretion of Global Vision International.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Living in rural Thailand;

  • Help improve education levels and opportunities in the local Karen community;

  • Helping protect Thailand’s diverse environment;

  • Observe a semi-wild herd of  elephants in their natural habitat;

  • Meeting people from all over the world;

  • Becoming immersed in several different program areas within the one location;

  • Living within and learning about the fascinating Thai and Karen cultures;

  • Sampling the amazing Thai cuisine;

  • Discovering Thailand’s idyllic beaches, ornate temples and beautiful rainforests in your spare time.

Program Details

 
Flexibility
Change your location and dates free of charge.
 
Payment Plans
Flexible payment plans available.
 
Cancellation Waiver
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.

Select a Start Date

  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Life On Base

Our base in Chiang Mai is surrounded by breathtaking mountainous scenery. Set in northern Thailand, the project work itself takes place in the Mae Chaem District, a 5-hour journey into the mountains, where the famous Karen elephant-keeping communities reside and have shared a unique and sacred relationship with elephants for hundreds of years.

Base Tour

Highlights

 
24-hour in-country support
 
Accommodation
 
Barbecue grill
 
Education facilities
 
Forest side living
 
Local cooking lessons
 
Recreational area
 
Resource room
 
Transportation
 
ACCOMMODATION

GVI Chiang Mai allows you to experience life like a local, as each volunteer has their own homestay with a local family allowing them to become immersed in the Karen culture and warmth of its people. Homestays are usually with their own rooms or single hut, and are located all around the village, usually a quick walk from the GVI base. This allows you the perfect opportunity to enjoy the fresh morning air and the sites of the village. There is cold running water available for showers, bottled water available for drinking, shared bathroom facilities and shared base duties, including cleaning and other chores (this is all part of the GVI experience)!

 
TRANSPORTATION

We provide transfers to and from the Chiang Mai Airport. If you are not arriving within the pick-up window you will find regulated taxi stands. You can travel around the local area easily by foot. On weekends, you can explore the town of Mae Chaem by car arranged at your own expense.

 
COMMUNICATION

You will have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the program, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. WiFi is usually available at Root’s coffee shop in the village, but be aware that power cuts and storms can make this unreliable. Mobile phone reception is possible and quite reliable on site, and SIM cards can be purchased to use with your unlocked cell phone.

 
MEALS

Breakfast is available at base before the morning hikes, and lunch and dinner are typically home cooked meals provided by your individual homestays. Food is simple but nutritious, and is primarily vegetarian with optional fish or meat available once or twice a week. During the first week, a staff member typically eats with each participant at their homestay, to help integrate them into the family.

 
CLIMATE

From November to February, Chiang Mai enjoys its cooler months, when the temperature is mild and mostly dry. The weather is hot and humid between March to June, but as we are based in a mountain community, the temperature usually drops at night, giving you a pleasant reprieve from the heat of the day. Monsoon rains are heaviest from August to September, but if you bring some rain gear and a sunny outlook you might see the elephants enjoying a muddy wallow after the rains.

 

COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.

Covid-19 Response

Health and Hygiene

For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.


The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.


Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

What's It like?

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.


Live Updates

Follow GVI Chiang-Mai's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVIThailandChiangMai

Arrivals

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.


 
 
 

COVID-19 Safety

Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.

Flights

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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.

Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

Meet the team - Senior Field Management

Jill Walker

Deputy Director of Programs
Meet GVI’s Jill,also known by her rap name, Rainmaker, or her spiritual name, Field Whisperer. Her journey with GVI began back in 2007 as Thailand's Country Director, where she helped set up GVI’s first TEFL program!

Now she is based in Chaing Rai, Thailand. Jill's role involves providing support for all of our programs around the world. Working closing with each base, she looks to identify and manage any issues that occur so GVI are able to offer the best programs possible.

Liane Fulford

Program Manager

Meet Liane! Liane is known on base as “Base Mum” and is originally from England. Her journey with GVI began in March 2018 after she had finished working in Malawi for six months. Liane has also worked in both China and Australia, where she was a teacher. In her spare time Liane enjoys making the most of what Thailand has to offer, hiking mountains and scuba diving!

Tom Mitchell

Senior Field Staff & Marketing Coordinator
This is Tom! He is our Senior Field Staff And Marketing Coordinator at GVI’s base in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Tom is from the UK and before his arrival in the jungles of Chiang Mai, Tom had no experience within conservation. In fact Tom had never been outside the UK. Quite the jump, to say the least!

Meet the team - In-Country Staff

Chigusa Keller

Elephant Science Coordinator
This is Chigusa, our Elephant Science Coordinator here at our Chiang Mai base in Thailand.
She has grown up in Switzerland where she studied environmental science and now plays a huge role in data collection and analysis at the base, allowing us to record and further understand the behaviour of the elephants.

Jonathan Berry

Field Staff
This is Jonathan, a member of the GVI Field Staff at our Chaing Mai base in Thailand. He has joined us from Liverpool in the UK and has visited this base as a volunteer on seven previous occasions, making him the perfect person to support our volunteers.

Myles Davis

Assistant Program Manager

Introducing you to Myles, also referred to as Coach. Coach is from Brooklyn, New York and has been the Assistant Base Manager for over a year now. Other experience includes working with cobras in Thailand, monkeys in Zanzibar and crocodiles in Florida. On top all this, Myle has 127 dreadlocks!

Toby Craze

Community Coordinator
Meet Toby, who is originally from Cornwall in the UK. Toby came to GVI Chiang Mai, Thailand, in September of 2018 as an intern, fresh out of university. He has since become one of our Field Staff. Fun fact, once upon a time Toby was urinated on by a lion!

Your Supervisor

We’re of the belief that internships are learning experiences and that a great supervisor is absolutely essential to the success of any internship program. Our supervisors will assist you in familiarising yourself with your environment and provide the guidance you need to meet your goals and solve problems. They’re remote, so that location and travel restrictions don’t affect us in choosing the supervisor that best suits your needs.


Research Supervisor

 

If you choose our research internship package, you’ll be assigned an research supervisor. Your research supervisor will provide guidance for you in achieving your data collection and analysis goals. They’ll also help you to navigate the complex challenges of collecting and analysing data within the context of international field research.


 

Internship Supervisor

 

When you choose our core internship package, you’ll be assigned an internship supervisor. They’ll help you to navigate day-to-day challenges involved in completing learning and tasks related to your internship program. They’ll provide guidance throughout your internship so that you can get your work done successfully and maximise the benefits of your experience.


 

Career Supervisor

 

If you choose our career internship package, you’ll be assigned a career supervisor. Your career supervisor will help you to navigate the professional relationship with the international organisation for which you’ll be completing a project. They’ll also help you to master skills necessary for successfully making the transition from full-time student to full-time employee.


 

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or 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 history of the UN SDGs. Then, once on base you’ll learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


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


Please note: Both conservation- and community-focused programs are offered at this location.


GVI Chiang Mai’s programs work in collaboration with the local Karen hill tribe and village of Huay Pakoot. Here we work with the elephant-keeping community to help monitor the introduction of elephants into their natural habitat from their previous lives in tourist camps.


Your contribution will help to keep these elephants in protected forests, continuing the conservation of these beautiful animals and what remains of their fragmented forest habitats, as well as providing funding to keep the project running whilst offering alternative livelihoods to the local community. The goal of this project is to have semi-wild herds of elephants living, socializing, and foraging in their natural habitat, supervised by their mahouts around their local village.


This allows us to offer support to the local community, assist in the conservation of these amazing animals, and to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as #15 – Life On Land, #4 – Quality Education, and #8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth.


Project Objectives

GVI Chiang Mai Long-term Objectives:  


1. Increase and promote ethical elephant tourism.


2. Create a viable self-sustaining eco-tourism program for the village. As well as supporting a stable herd of elephants living naturally in the forested area of the village.


3. Improve standards of living and job opportunities for people in the Huay Pakoot village


4. Improve sustainable natural resource management in the Huay Pakoot area


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.


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

 

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.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

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


 

Impact Reporting

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


 

Working Against Dependency

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


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

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


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

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


 

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.


 

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.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

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


 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing

 

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

 

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

 

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

 

For All Participants at Chiang Mai

Community: Women’s Empowerment

 

Community: Human Empowerment

 

Conservation: Survey Techniques and Logistics

 

Conservation: Biodiversity & Target Species Identification

 

Pakinyaw Language Lessons

 

Data Training

 

TEFL Presentation

 

Ethical Elephant Training

 

Biodiversity Training

 

Cooking Classes

 

Weaving Class

 

Your Program Specific Training

Intro to Biodiversity

 

Bird and Mammal Surveys

 

Qualifications

References and Recommendations

Career Services

After successfully completing your internship you’ll have a host of new skills, specialised knowledge and work experience. You’ll also have a professional reference and, possibly, new qualifications. Our post-program career services will help you leverage what you’ve gained throughout your internship to take the next step on your chosen career path.


Careers in Sustainability

 

Career paths in social and environmental impact are not as well-established as other fields. That’s why we provide all of our interns with a Careers in Sustainable Development course in partnership by the University of Richmond. In this course, you’ll learn about current and emerging opportunities in a range of sectors, allowing you to make the best decision about your future.


This online course is valued at £295 and is included in all internships.


Course details can be found here.


Career Coaching

 

When you’ve successfully completed your internship, you’ll have the opportunity to schedule two career coaching sessions with one of GVI’s career mentors.


Use these small group sessions to develop your career goals, personal branding and job-hunting strategies.


Preferential Recruitment

 

At the end of your internship you’ll be added to our list of potential candidates we’ll consider first for GVI vacancies around the world. Stay up-to-date on positions by checking our Careers Abroad jobs portal. Get in touch if you find that fits you perfectly.


Job Portal Access

Once signed up to a GVI Internship, you’ll receive access to our jobs portal listing thousands of vacancies in social and environmental impact roles around the world. Employers range from non-profits to purpose-driven businesses.


 

Job Guarantee

 

If you join a career and research internship program for the duration of 24 weeks or longer you’ll receive a money-back job guarantee. We promise that you’ll find a position in an impact-driven field within 18 months of successfully completing the program or you’ll receive 50% of your internship program fee back.


Terms and conditions apply.


Free time

Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.


Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Local Adventures

Karen cuisine cooking lessons

Every few weeks you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to make traditional Karen dishes. Join other participants at the homes of Karen community members to learn how to prepare Karen dishes and learn a little of the Karen language through a shared passion for great food.

Buddhist temple

Visit the village’s Buddhist temple set alongside a sacred lake. During Thai holidays you may hear chanting coming from the temple, see parades or a big feast. You’re welcome to spend time here, even during celebrations, but please be sure to be respectful and cover your shoulders as well as your knees according to the dress code.

Night in the forest

10 minutes away from the village there’s a campsite in a conservation forest. Upon request, we sometimes take what gear is available on base to go and sleep out in the forest. Here we stargaze, spot fireflies and generally immerse ourselves in nature. Please note that there aren't any facilities in this camping area.

Football, volleyball and ultimate frisbee

Join other participants for a game of football, volleyball or ultimate frisbee at a field next to the school. Just be sure that it’s not being used by the local students for their schooling. Afterwards, get a refreshingly cold drink or ice cream at a nearby shop overlooking the hills.

Hiking trails

Take a hike along the corn fields to watch the sunrise. This trail features excellent views of the forest. Or, take the forest trail where you might see gibbons. This is quite a steep and hilly hike of about 4 kilometres or 2,5 miles that ends in a small river with views of rice farms.

Coffee and Wi-Fi

Looking for a good cup of coffee? Root’s Coffee Shop is a five-minute walk from base. Root and his son Wyn, who also works as a mahout, make excellent homegrown coffee. Choose a chair or a hammock and enjoy views of the surrounding hills. When the shop is closed you’re welcome to use the hammocks and Wi-Fi at any time of day.

Smoothies, noodles and fashion

Visit Boh Luh’s Smoothie Shop, a two-minute walk from base. Boh Luh sells delicious smoothies, made from mango, banana, passionfruit, watermelon and other fruit. Make use of the reusable cups available on base for a guilt-free sipping experience. Open from lunchtime until late, this stall also offers nourishing noodle soup as well as hand-woven bags and skirts.

Movie nights

We have a projector at base as well as a large selection of movies. Sometimes we take a vote on which one to put on after dinner or when we have a quiet afternoon.

Gym

If you need to get your workout in you can also find our gym on the lower floor of our base hut. It includes a gym bench and weights.

Ping pong

On the lower floor of our base hut you’ll find a ping pong table. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself engaged in a heated ping pong tournament against some of the mahouts.

Weekend Trips

Chiang Mai Visit

Arrange a trip into the Chiang Mai, here you will find plenty to do, from cooking classes, Muay Thai training, and shows, too night bazaars, temples (including Doi Suthep) and the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Thai massage. There is the opportunity to go into Chiang Mai every two weeks, with the staff and volunteers going in for the new volunteer intake. There is no public transport to the village, but staff can assist you in booking transport to various places, and sometimes we organize a group trip to nearby attractions.


Mae Chaem visit

It is a two hour drive to the town of Mae Chaem, and travelling around the village is easily done on foot. Here you can also visit the wihan of Wat Pa Daet.


Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park is home to Thailand’s highest peak and is famous for it man waterfalls and stunning viewing spots.


Karen village surrounds

Due to the remoteness, our program is based in and around the village of Huay Pakoot. On weekends you will have the opportunity to explore the surrounding evergreen cloud forests, or why not go bird watching or look out for the smaller mammals such as gibbons and deer.

Huay Pakoot exploration

This quiet rural Karen village will be your home whilst on project, giving you a unique chance to learn about traditional Karen culture. Learn to cook Thai and Karen dishes with community members, and learn about everyday life in this traditional setting.

Further Travels

Neighbouring Laos

Discover the ancient country of Laos, where the fusion of French and Asian culture and charm make for a wonderful setting to experience a unique culture.


Railay Beach visit

Known for its pristine beach, lush jungle and dramatic rock formations, Railay is not something to miss.


Bangkok visit

The capital city of Thailand, known for its exotic atmosphere and ancient traditions. Pumping with colour, noise, and people, Bangkok is a place you need to see experience first hand if you are visiting Thailand.


Ayuthaya visit

Explore the golden kingdom of Ayuthaya, with its mysterious temple ruins, which were once gilded palaces.


Island hop

Visit Ko Tao and Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, and soak up the sun on these stunning white sand beaches.


Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Wildlife

The Asian Elephant is Thailand’s national symbol, but there are also many other notable species found in Thailand. These include the two species of bear, namely the Asiatic black bear and Malayan sun bear; gibbons and a dhole, also know as an Asiatic wild dog. You might consider doing a night hike while on base to look for snakes, frogs and other nocturnal animals. Otherwise try your hand at identifying unique birds and insects, and surveying the biodiversity in the forests around the village.

Spirituality and Religion

The official religion of the Kingdom of Thailand is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by the majority of the population, who visit monastery temples found throughout the country.


Cooking

Many visitors to Thailand choose it as a destination because of its amazing food culture. From street food to culinary delights in the finest Thai restaurants, you will never be short of local dishes to try when exploring Thailand. The national dish of Thailand is Pad Thai, which is a popular rice noodle dish combining the flavours of sweet, sour, salty and spicy with stir-fried egg, tofu, sprouts, and other vegetables, served with lime and crushed peanuts. During your stay in the Huay Pakoot village, you will have the unique opportunity to sample traditional Karen food.

Festivals

There are festivals throughout the year, the most notable being Songkran, the Thai new year and water festival, held in mid-April, and the lantern festival in November.

Languages

Thai – This is the official language of Thailand and is spoken by roughly 36 million people across the world. In the project location, their first language is Pakinyaw, which you will learn whilst on-project.

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.

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.

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.


 

COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.

Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

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 can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

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 and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

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 nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

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 around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


What's Included

General
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

24-hour emergency desk

24-hour in-country support

Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)

All project equipment

Food (except on long-term internship placements

Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)

Pre-Program Training
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

Group introductory call

Welcome presentation

Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond

Endorsed Leadership Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond
Project Work
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

Sustainable project work

Leadership responsibilities

Data collection and research

Real projects with partners

Remote Support
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

Program training

Tailored to your location and program focus

Remote Internship Supervisor

Remote Academic Internship Supervisor

Remote Career Internship Supervisor

Post-Program
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

Preferential recruitment on GVI positions

Job portal access

Endorsed Careers Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond

Career coaching sessions(x2)

Job guarantee (6 month minimum)

Certificates & Achievements
Volunteer
Intern
Core
Research
Career

PDF reference - upon request

Linkedin reference and skills endorsement

Exclusions

Work Placements

Our career internship programs include the option of joining and completing a work placement of between 2 to 12 weeks with impact-focused organisations all over the world. These could be charities, businesses, governments, or GVI itself. Please note that placements come at an additional cost. Speak to us for details.