During my GCSEs, I had been eager to do something useful and memorable with my summer; I decided I wanted to volunteer abroad and I heard about GVI through Facebook. When I read about the turtle program in Greece, I was immediately fascinated by it because, like many others, I love animals, and so working alongside Archelon, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, to help to conserve sea turtles would be an unbelievably incredible opportunity.
On the plane to Greece, I was unquestionably excited, particularly for the camping because who doesn’t love camping? … When I arrived at the airport in Athens, I was greeted by friendly GVI staff, who I can now honestly call my friends. However, before arriving at camp, many things were running through my head; will there be showers?, will the food be nice?, will I get along with the other volunteers? The answer to all those questions is yes.
A typical weekday in Greece included a survey (either morning or night), followed by a group activity (decorating camp with turtle-shaped flags). Lunch would then be prepared by volunteers and eaten together at the dining area in camp. Whoever was on rota for cleaning duty would make sure that the kitchen and dining area was tidy, and then we had free time, often referred to as ‘nap time’ (because it was hot and surveys can be tiring, so substantial sleep is essential). However, the majority of volunteers would spend ‘nap time’ at the beach or at the taverna, enjoying a crunchy ice cream or a refreshing slushie.
After, we would all gather to enjoy a presentation prepared by a GVI leader, educating us on the importance of sustaining our planet or a brief on their journey leading up to GVI. This was followed by dinner and cleaning duty, which was again carried out by volunteers.
At around 8pm, we all trekked (all of 2 minutes, ha!) to the beautiful Greek beach, Kyparissia Bay, to be amazed by the incredible sunset, whilst briefing each other on the day’s events; findings on surveys, questions and notices for others. After brief, we had some time to appreciate the beach, playing football by the sea and sharing our talents.
After sunset, we had free time to enjoy with friends; most chilled at the taverna, scrolling through Instagram (the WiFi was pretty good) or playing Uno over some oregano-flavoured fries and a few Souvlakis (despite already having eaten dinner), whilst others prepared for their long, eventful, magical night survey on the beach.
The GVI program in Greece has given me an insight into the world of conservational work, as well as helping me build life-long friendships with the other volunteers and GVI staff. The opportunity to meet people from, not only my home country, England, but from all around the world, including Colombia, Luxembourg and Holland, has not only educated me culturally, but it has allowed me to meet individuals I would never have met before from different backgrounds and life styles. As well as creating strong friendships, the program is a great confidence-builder; being in a completely different country with a range of different characters and coming together with one purpose and aim has prepared me better than anything or anyone could have done for the future. This experience allowed me to have the most worthwhile and unforgettable summer I have ever had, and I hope to embark on another journey with GVI next summer.