Making change together

Service Learning

Our global service learning programs for high school students integrate classroom-based learning, research, and real-life service experiences. We prioritise the development of critical skills needed to thrive in an ever-changing world, fostering personal growth and equipping future leaders mentally, emotionally and socially. Focusing on sustainability and long-term impact, we engage in year-round project work alongside trusted partners.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.


What is service learning?

Service learning is a type of learning that happens when students, teachers and community members work together. They partner with community organisations to do activities that are related to what they’re learning in school. It’s a two-way partnership where everyone learns and grows together. We guide students in thinking critically about their experiences before, during and after participating in our programs to learn and reflect on what they’ve done.

Driving global change and personal growth

We are proud to align our program objectives with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring that we contribute to global efforts for a better world. Our commitment extends beyond short-term fixes. We strive to facilitate sustainable, long-term change in the communities we work with. We also prioritise the personal growth and development of each individual involved in our programs. 

Creating lasting change

At GVI, our goal is to create a global community of like-minded people driven by their passion to make a positive impact. To achieve this, we work hand in hand with local partner organisations in the countries where we operate, such as the Royal Thai Navy Sea Turtle Conservation Centre in Thailand and Teno-Rasca Marine Reserve  in Spain. Our mission is to bring about lasting change, and our alumni, community partners and staff continue to make positive impacts long after the program ends.

Choose your path

By joining one of our service learning programs, students have the chance to contribute to solving urgent challenges in environmental sustainability, wildlife and marine conservation. We also offer programs that focus on community development, covering important topics like education, women’s empowerment and global public health.

These projects are a perfect fit for students studying related disciplines. Plus, we can customise the programs to align with your specific learning goals and skill development. Join us and be part of the change you want to see in the world!

adventures in countries like Thailand, Greece, Spain and Costa Rica. Partnering with professional conservationists, students take part in sustainability-focused projects with a long-term impact. Get up close and personal with wildlife and marine conservation, and make a real difference in protecting our planet. These trips offer a perfect blend of adventure, learning and service, providing unforgettable experiences and opportunities to contribute positively to the world.

Service learning options for high school students

Phang Nga, Thailand

Thailand is the ultimate destination for high school trips abroad, especially during summer holidays. At GVI’s research station in Ban Nam Khem, a beautiful beachside town in Phang Nga province, this is a chance to be part of something truly meaningful.

On our conservation program students directly contribute to the United Nations Development Goals, specifically UN SDG 14: Life Below Water and UN SDG 15: Life on Land. Get ready for hands-on experiences that make a measurable impact.

Working on sustainable projects with tangible long-term goals, students will learn about endangered sea turtles and assist at a local turtle conservation centre. They might also collect valuable data for citizen science projects or organise beach cleans to combat plastic pollution. This isn’t just any trip – it’s an opportunity to make a positive impact on our planet while having an unforgettable experience in a breathtaking location. 

Travelling to Phang Nga is a chance for students to take in the beauty of this incredible destination and experience the local culture – from vibrant markets to delicious street food and ancient temples. 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

When you travel to Thailand’s northern region, students on our elephant conservation program have the opportunity to support essential conservation project work in the traditional Karen community of Huay Pakoot, while surrounded by breathtaking mountainous scenery. Guided by qualified impact directors, students will focus on promoting ethical elephant tourism while gaining insight into regional conservation issues.

High school students have the opportunity to visit temples, indulge in street food, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of Chiang Mai. They can also go hiking through lush mountains, discover hidden waterfalls or take part in adventurous activities like zip-lining.

The Canary Islands, Spain

The Canary Islands, a volcanic archipelago, is a top choice for school trips abroad, offering captivating marine life in its surrounding waters. In Tenerife we work with a number of partners, including Teno-Rasca Marine Reserve, a protected area dedicated to preserving vulnerable species and habitats. Through the REDPROMAR and eOceans platforms, we register and collect sightings of marine megafauna. We also use the Clean Swell app to record beach cleanup data, contributing to global efforts to combat ocean pollution.

On GVI’s marine conservation program, students work as a team to assist with collecting data and photographing whales and dolphins, as well as conducting beach cleans and education and awareness presentations on marine conservation. 

When not busy with project work, students have the opportunity to explore this incredible island. From surfing to hiking through volcanic trails, including the famous Mount Teide. 

Kefalonia, Greece

Welcome to Kefalonia, a stunning island nestled in the Ionian Sea, famous for its breathtaking beaches and charming towns. From here our coastal conservation program focuses on protecting and conserving the incredible loggerhead turtles that nest in this area. Students will get to live and work right alongside these amazing creatures, making a real difference.

Students will assist with leading daily surveys, both in the morning and at night, to keep track of nesting activity. Our dedicated team will guide students in conducting daily morning and night surveys to record nesting activity, ensuring the safety and preservation of turtle nests from predation and potential damage caused by seawater. This hands-on conservation experience will not only deepen students’ understanding of marine ecosystems but also develop a sense of responsibility towards the environment.

We know you’ll want some free time to enjoy the island, so we’ve built that into the schedule. Plus, we’ve got optional excursions for those who want to take their adventure to the next level. We’ll tailor the program to fit your school’s wishes and make sure you have an unforgettable experience.

Gandoca, Costa Rica

Our conservation experience in Gandoca is an excellent choice for high school students with an interest in wildlife and environmental conservation. Gandoca is the southernmost Caribbean coastal town of Costa Rica, and is surrounded by the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge an incredible educational experience for students. Here they can explore lush rainforests, encounter diverse wildlife like howler monkeys, sloths and colourful toucans, witness sea turtle nesting, and learn about the importance of mangrove forests. The area is like a giant outdoor classroom where students can learn all about conservation, ecology, and the importance of protecting our planet’s ecosystems.

With a focus on sustainable projects with long-term impact, high school students can assist with collecting data. This will involve conducting research for a mangrove reforestation project, monitoring sea turtle nests, and conducting beach cleans which helps keep turtle nesting beaches free of pollution and any potential dangers to the turtles and their nests. 

During their time in Costa Rica, students can also enjoy a range of exciting activities like trekking through Cahuita National Park, learning how to make tamales, visiting a local cacao farm, and hiking to nearby beaches and waterfalls. 

Community programs

Our school trips abroad also include programs that focus on community development in the following countries:



Speak to your enrolment manager for more information on further destinations available.

Our service learning curriculum introduces students to sustainable development, both in content and practice. Using the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), this provides an opportunity to examine the complexities of global challenges and opportunities and the interconnections among them. Each service learning project is co-created with local community members to advance one or more of the UN SDGs in accordance with short- and long-term strategic planning undertaken collaboratively by the local community and GVI.

Our global service learning programs incorporate primary learning goals, each of which is composed of specific student learning objectives that guide the design of daily and weekly activities. Service work is an integral part of our course design, and is accompanied by integrated reflection periods, field excursions and a mutual learning model whereby students work/learn alongside community members. Our service learning courses also focus on personal, civic and professional development, with particular attention to employability and global citizenship, which are just a few of the benefits of service learning.

Hear from students and educators

“After eight weeks of participating in a wide variety of activities as a service learning volunteer, I have learned the value of stepping outside my comfort zone and exploring areas besides animals and science. I used to think my science classes and animal-related extracurriculars at school were sufficient preparation for my future career. Now, I recognise the power of interdisciplinary studies in discerning the connections between seemingly unrelated topics, such as the use of microplastics and marine life conservation. A multidisciplinary approach like this is critical to problem-solving in any profession. As such, the refined critical thinking skills and global awareness I acquired this summer will serve me well in the future. I am grateful to GVI for providing the education, resources, and support I needed to learn and grow over the past eight weeks.”

– Emma, Duke University

To read more testimonials from educators and students from institutions such as Duke University, Endicott College, Stelly’s School and Ohio State University, visit our testimonials page.

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