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Sea Turtle Conservation And Cultural Immersion Teen Volunteering In Thailand

Travel to the "Land of Smiles" and assist on valuable community based construction projects specifically designed for Under 18 volunteers


Program Information

Experience a side of Thailand that tourists can’t when you join an international team of under 18 volunteers in stunning and secluded Phang Nga. Help transform the local non-formal education center into a key place of learning by assisting with construction projects and make a real impact, while living alongside a traditional Thai community and exploring the stunning tropical jungles and turquoise oceans that surround you.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

This project has been specially designed for those looking to volunteer, but are aged between 15 and 17 years old. Throughout this project, our younger volunteers will have greater supervision, training, and world-class leaders in the field who have been chosen for their mix of relevant experience and ability to mentor and inspire young people.



The project

Travel to the travellers delight of Thailand, and volunteer on community renovation projects in the Phang Nga province of southern Thailand. This volunteer trip provides you with a truly unique view of Thailand that most tourists miss out on, a region that is rich in stunning beaches, crystal clear water, and adventure and surprise at every turn.

Your efforts and resources will be focused on the local Non-Formal Education Centre to make improvements to transform the center into a key place of learning and community. Depending on the requirements of the community, you may also have the opportunity to work on projects in surrounding schools.

This volunteer project can be hard work, but this area is a beautiful example of a traditional Thai community, and you will be rewarded when you can enjoy a 4-day trip of beaches and islands, pristine locations just ready to be explored.

Please note that this program offers durations of 2 to 3 weeks. Please speak to your Country Expert for further information.

Highlights include...

Make a difference even over the short term; work to renovate a key functioning community center; assist in the improvement of surrounding schools; experience local Thai culture working alongside students and community members; explore the stunning surrounding areas via boat, snorkel or kayak; overall, make a genuine difference with this volunteer trip in Thailand.

Program Details

Program Type:
Location: Asia - Thailand - Phang Nga

Project Life

Volunteering

Phang Nga is a pocket of paradise in southern Thailand known for its amazing limestone rock formations, pristine beaches and rich culture.

Upon arrival at our project base, you will be given time to relax and settle into your new home. The next day will include a welcome presentation and introductions, the history and background of the projects and a health and safety debriefing. After lunch, you will be given a guided tour and orientation around the local area, learning more about the local culture and Thai language.

The Work Begins…

With orientation out of the way, it’s time to get to work at one of our local partners! Once we have arrived at the project site, volunteers will be organised into task groups and given their goals to achieve over the next two weeks. The exact work will depend on the needs of our partners at the time, but typically it may involve improving the infrastructure and learning environment at a local school or center, basic maintenance and renovation work, or painting and brightening up the space with murals or other artwork.

With tight deadlines over the next one or two weeks, expect to work as a team to overcome any obstacles or challenges that might prevent you from completing the task on time. On your last day of construction, you will be putting the final touches to your project and getting ready to present your lasting contribution to our partners and the children.

Adventure Side Trip and Cultural Weekend

With the hard work out of the way, it is now time to sit back and relax as we embark on a visually stimulating cultural weekend around the local area. We journey forth into Khao Sok National Park, an amazing place, home to the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest, huge limestone mountains and the stunning Cheow Larn Lake. The next day will see us arriving at the popular Khao Lak, famous for its seemingly endless white sandy beaches and laid back atmosphere. This is the perfect place to languish on the beach, explore the nearby area and soak up that Pacific sun as we prepare to ramp up for an exciting final week in Thailand.

An Island Hopping Adventure Awaits!

Our adventure begins on the southern islands of Thailand, renowned for their breath-taking beauty. We will start off by getting the adrenaline pumping with a myriad of activities as we island hop. Prepare yourself for sea kayaking in Ao Thalane, paddling through spectacular karst rock formations, exploring caves and discovering Krabi’s coastal treasures.

The next few days will see us embarking on a “4 island tour”. Our first stop will be the Ko Phi-Phi speedboat tour, where we will travel to Bamboo Island (near Phi Phi), then onto Viking Cave (known for its swallow population), and lastly, finishing off the day at Maya Bay, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches and the location of The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. The final day, will take us to Railay, where we will have some time to rewind and relax, soaking up rays on the stunning Hat Phra Nang beach. Before we make our way back to the project, there will also be time to experience an authentic traditional Thai massage, grab a few snaps with mischievous monkeys or introduce your taste buds to some local cuisine from the boats that pull up onto the beach.

We return to Phang Nga for your final day in Thailand, where you will have the chance to say your goodbyes, meet some of the other GVI volunteers, review your experience and reflect upon the impact of your trip. This will also present an opportunity for you to learn about the projects others have been working on as well as how your work has contributed to the overall mission and objectives of GVI in Thailand. After some last minute shopping and a farewell dinner, your group will make their way to the airport, heading home with new friends, fond memories and the knowledge that you have made a sustainable impact on the lives of others.

Project Details

This project focuses on bringing together groups of volunteers, skilled and unskilled, with local community members and local craftsmen.

Together with our local partners, we support sustainable human development by promoting volunteering and rural and responsible tourism in southern Thailand. Volunteering on this project gives you an opportunity to give something back to the community during your holiday , but also allows you to experience a new culture by working alongside local community members.

How this project makes a difference

The educational facilities where you will volunteer are at the heart of the local communities, providing an inspiring place for the community to seek knowledge and education and create a warm environment for the community to share their love of language, arts and music.

Phang Nga short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 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 visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will 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.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Phang Nga: 


1. To provide equal, quality education to children of all backgrounds.

2. To Promote Good Health and Wellbeing through education to all children

3. .Increase skills for local people to assist with equal employment opportunities in our communities within Takuapa and Ban Nham Khem

4. Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies.

5. Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training

6. To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, data collection, awareness raising and habitat restoration

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.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will 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.


ENVIRONMENTAL WORK


The environmental issues Thailand facing are many and varied. These include poor water, air and soil quality as well as biodiversity loss. Poaching, kidnapping of wild animals, deforestation, and unsustainable tourism threaten Thailand’s land and marine habitats and wildlife. The Thai government is constantly updating and improving environmental legislation and practices, and local and international non-governmental organisations and community groups can assist with achieving these conservation outcomes.


SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION


A large part of the environmental aspect of our project involves working alongside our partners at the Royal Thai Navy Sea Turtle Conservation Centre and the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre. These are head-start centres, where turtle hatchlings are reared until they are between 6 and 9 months old before being released back into the wild. Turtle populations the world over are threatened, and it is estimated that only around 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to reach adulthood naturally. These statistics are exacerbated by beach erosion as a result of tourism development. Head-start programs aim to increase the survival rate by protecting the hatchlings until they reach a size where they will face much less risk of predation. The work our participants carry out includes scrubbing the tanks to ensure that the turtles have a clean environment to live in, washing the turtles with an antibacterial solution to reduce levels of infection, and also applying antifungal and antibacterial treatments to any wounds the turtles have. We also conduct research at the centre, collecting data on turtle morphology and infection rates, as well as some behavioural research to monitor the effects of enclosure enrichment. We hope to use this data to gain further understanding of the best methods of turtle husbandry. This project runs year round and if you are lucky enough to be on the project during a release date, you will assist in releasing hundreds of young turtles into the ocean


ISLAND CONSERVATION


We also conduct biodiversity research on two nearby islands of Koh Ra and Koh Prathong year round to assist the Thai Department of National Parks in the effective management of these vital areas. We conduct surveys and run camera trapping research on the islands to build up a picture of the biodiversity there and we hope that this research will contribute to the islands falling under formal protection. We have already confirmed the presence of some critically endangered species on the islands so we know that they are of conservation value, and we hope through our continued and expanding research, we can learn more about the ecology of the islands and their importance in the region. Other activities include conducting research on mangroves and conducting further research on these plants.


*Please note that we only travel to Koh Ra and Koh Prathong once a month, so participants who only visit for two weeks might not get the opportunity to conduct island surveys.  


BIRD CONSERVATION


Another element to our projects is carrying out weekly bird surveys in the local area year round. Birds are an important part of healthy ecosystems and as such, building species lists and monitoring populations and patterns of migration is a valuable way to build a picture of how well nature is doing in an area. Participants are provided with training on how to identify birds in the field. Currently our data is submitted to a citizen science project, e-Bird, but we are looking at developing this project to commence our own research plan.


PLASTIC POLLUTION CLEANUPS


Year round we carry out beach cleans in our local area in Phang Nga. Marine litter is one of the greatest environmental challenges conservationists are facing today. Through regular clean ups we hope to make a difference through removing litter, and also occasionally through engaging the local community to participate alongside us.


CORAL RESEARCH


During the dry season, November to April, we carry out one to two snorkelling surveys a week on nearby coral reefs. We monitor the health of the coral, and we also look at the variety and abundance of fish species present. Coral reefs are incredibly important ecosystems which are vital to the health of our oceans, which in turn means that they are vital to humans as well. Globally coral reefs are being affected by overfishing, climate change and irresponsible tourism. We aim to monitor the reefs close to where we are based to look at how well they are doing and to establish if there are any actions that could be taken to improve or protect them further. We carry out our surveys in partnership with Green Fins Thailand and REEF, which are both organisations using citizen science to provide research and monitoring of the world’s coral reefs.


*Please note that you will not be doing any diving, while conducting these surveys, only snorkeling.


ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION


Throughout the year, we also conduct environmental awareness workshops at local schools, hotels, tour or dive operators, and anywhere in the local community when an opportunity presents itself.


COMMUNITY WORK


Ban Nam Khem, meaning ‘Place of Salty Water’, became the epicentre of a tin mining boom in the 1950s. The population grew from a few families to approximately 5000 people at its height. However, when all the tin was eventually extracted from the surrounding mines, the mining bubble burst, so that all remains of the industry today are lakes dotted around the village, marking where mines were dug out yet never filled back in. Today most people here earn a living from fishing, but many look for new income in the nearby tourist hub of Khao Lak.


Thailand, like many countries in South East 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. The need for community redevelopment and regeneration is still present.


The GVI Phang Nga hub was initiated in September 2013 with the aim of supporting the continued redevelopment of Ban Nam Khem and increased access to employment opportunities through capacity-building initiatives. The local community’s efforts to diversify employment markets remains central to its well-being. Ban Nam Khem is well located to take advantage of the tourism boom in the area, but the population needs a good level of conversational English to enable them access to the corresponding employment opportunities. Furthermore English language skills can assist students in the Thai workplace and in the international economy.


Ban Nam Khem boasts its own primary school with an enrolment 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, and free after-school classes open to everyone in the evening.


ENGLISH EDUCATION PROGRAM


Throughout the year we assist local teaches with running classes to improve conversational English. This might include everything from training local teachers, assisting with lesson development and providing one-on-one tutoring sessions for learners requiring additional support. We also conduct English lessons for adult learners from the community.


CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS


We also assist educational or community centers around Ban Nam Khem with infrastructure development, depending on if and when they have requested the support. We assist by conducting basic maintenance and renovation work like maintaining fences or installing bathrooms.


The main United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we work on at GVI Phang Nga are:



  • #4, Quality Education,

  • #5, Gender Equality,

  • #14 Life Below Water,

  • #15 Life On Land.


 


Our Partners In Phang Nga

Project Objectives

 


GVI Phang Nga Long-term Objectives:  


1. To provide equal, quality education to children of all backgrounds.\


2. To Promote good health and wellbeing through education to all children.


3. Increase skills for local people to assist with equal employment opportunities in our communities within Takuapa and Ban Nam Khem.


4. Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies.


5. Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training.


6. To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, research, awareness raising and habitat restoration.


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.

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.


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 conduct, 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.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Adventure and cultural activities
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Dedicated GVI leaders
  • Extensive pre-departure service including packing lists, fundraising advice, advice on travel arrangements, a thorough pre-departure orientationAdventure and cultural activities
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

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.


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. Our minimum staff to participant ratio 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.


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.


Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020

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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.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, 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.
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.

live base updates

Follow GVI Phang-Nga'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.
 
GVIThailandPhangNga