Global Vision International (GVI)

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9 / 10 after 209 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings
Program website: http://www.gviusa.com/

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I volunteered for one week on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania in August, 2009. I worked at a marine turtle sanctuary. This experience was not one that I would recommend. Although the Zanzibarians were, for the most part, wonderful, the problem was that this was just much too expensive for one week: more than $1000. I highly doubt that much of that money was allocated to the project, because the local head asked me to send them a computer, which they needed. Since a laptop can be bought for less than $500, one wonders why they would be asking ME, who had already paid over $1000. In addition, the food was the most awful and non-nutritious food I've ever had. Spaghetti noodles with sugar on them? Fried, greasy dough balls? Half an orange and half a banana a day (the only fruit I got despite seeing a vast array of fruits at the market). I went home and developed a horrible case of giardia (parasites), most likely due to the food. Finally, I was led to believe that there would be others volunteering. I was shocked to find that I was the ONLY volunteer there and moreover, I was only the SECOND volunteer ever. I think GVI was less than forth-coming about this. Again, although I enjoyed the work and the local people, I felt that it was a total rip-off financially.

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 11, 2010
Overall:
2
Support:
6
Value:
0
By: Anonymous
Age:

Going to a foreign land by myself where I spoke only a little of their native language was a terrifying idea. Perhaps thats why I wanted to do it so badly. There were three things that I wanted to do last summer: volunteer, travel, and meet new people. GVI met my criteria and provided me with opportunities far and beyond what I could have imagined. Like I said, going by myself to a new country was scary. I had my packets of information from GVI telling me what I was going to be doing, where I was staying, who I was staying with, but in reality, I didn't truly know until I experienced it first hand. From the time I was picked up at the airport to the time I was dropped back off there 4 weeks later I felt nothing but hospitality and kindness. Dom, Doreen and all the GVI staff go out on the limb to make sure you have everything you need. My host family welcomed me with open arms and provided me with food, a shower, a place to sleep, and above all else, love. I looked forward to mealtime not only for Angela's delicious and diverse foods, but also for her and Duilio's conversations. My Spanish was flawless, but it was enough for us to be able to get to know each other and talk about our two very different cultures. They are used to hosting volunteers who have little Spanish speaking skills and were very understanding when I could not think of the right word. One thing I really appreciated was them trying to help me improve my Spanish. They would speak slower so that I could understand and then correct me if I said or pronounced something wrong. This is just one of the many things I am grateful of Angela and Duilio for.
My first week in Guatemala I stayed in Antigua where I took Spanish everyday from 8am to 3pm. GVI has a close connection with a good Spanish School in Antigua and that is where all volunteers go for lessons. The lessons are one on one with a tutor. It was a very relaxed atmosphere where we sat outside at coffee tables, coffee and tea were provided and the tutors had a sense of humor that made learning fun. For that first week I had the evenings to do as I pleased and usually spent this time with other volunteers exploring Antigua. We discovered everything the market had to offer and spent some time there. It had just about everything you could think of including food, clothes, jewelry, cd's, etc. Most things were beautifully hand made and the costs were extremely reasonable, even before bartering if you choose to do so. Besides the market there are many other things to do in the area like local coffee and macademia nut farms. Some require a short ride on the chicken bus but I think that is something everyone should experience anyway, just be smart and go with a friend.
Every weekday morning all the GVI volunteers met at the same cafe before heading off to the schools or spanish class. Hearing about the schools in Itzapa and San Andres Jesus made me eager to get there and see everything for myself. When week two rolled around I was more than ready to get going. Even after a week of being in Guatemala, I felt yet again a sense of fear. It just hit me that I was going to be teaching my own class! Dom explained to me that he would teach the first few days or so until I felt comfortable enough to take over. As we I was going to be doing the first few days or so until gave me material to look through and he taught my class for the first few days while I observed and got to know the kids a little bit. Immediately upon my arrival in Itzapa I felt welcomed. Elena, a very active woman in the community, greeted all the new volunteers and she served us lunch everyday. I was showed around the school and then the kids finally started showing up. I had never met them before this but nonetheless, they ran up to me and gave me huge hugs! You just don't experience that in the U.S. I quickly learned how grateful all of them really are and it encourage me to do the same. I guess in a way, teaching them taught me more than I could have imagined.
My 4 weeks there went by extremely fast and it was very hard to say goodbye to my class, my host-family, and of course the other volunteers and friends I made along the way. I would recommend volunteering in Guatemala to anyone and I can only imagine that all of GVI's programs are just as amazing as those based in Guatemala. I will leave you with this quote, "Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely," Rodin. If you want to do something, don't put it off, just go do it and don't hold back. Be open minded and don't take anything for granted. Talk to people, get to know them and learn their culture, it will only help you grow as a person. And help. Help those who do not have the same opportunities as you and show them kindness and care. You will get even more in return. That is the best advice I can give anyone.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 28, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Anonymous
Age:

The staff members are very warm and always there to help you. They were making positive changes in the village as well as the lives of the volunteers. I felt very honor to be part of it even though I was there only two weeks. You also have time to explore the area during weekend. It is truly worth a trip.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 24, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Anonymous
Age:

I volunteered for GVI on the education project in Nicaragua, and i had an amazing time. I would really recommend this to everyone. The work is really rewarding and gives you a great chance to get to know people who live in and around the community. It can be hard work ( I did start going to bed at 9:30pm on weekdays ), but it is really appreciated by the families who send their kids to the school. I choose this project because so much of what you pay to do it, go's straight into the community and on the the project. You really can see evidence of that when you arrive. I'm still buzzing from my time there ( only got back last week ), but I really hope and go back again in the next few years, either to see the kids a bit older or even work on one of the other projects in Guatemala or Ecuador.
You have to see the project to really appreciate how well it works.
Good luck to all you future volunteers and say hi to Nicaragua and the kids for me.
Patrick.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 22, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
8
By: Anonymous
Age:

I feel that this experience has really changed my view on happiness in life. It allowed me to realize that importance of happiness and that it can be attained from the smallest things in life. Just a hug from my students at the end of the day meant the world to me and made them feel loved back. It amazes me how happy the kids are when I think about what their reality is like outside of school. The “gifts” I received from my students are the best gifts I have ever gotten and I would not have been able to appreciate them if I hadn’t left high school early. The things I took with me from my experience will never get old and nothing will be able to compare to them. My students are my inspiration to achieve anything in life. I can achieve any obstacle that comes my way with the thought and imprint my students left on me.
Aside from teaching in the schools I met incredible people from all over the world who I still keep in touch with. Every Friday all the volunteers and GVI staff got together for a barbecue it was a great way to get to know the other volunteers and make weekend plans.
Living with a host family was uncomfortable in the beginning and I didn't know where I stood in the house, but after a couple weeks I grew very close with my host family and they made me feel right at home. I would sit and talk with my host mom for hours. To this day I still keep in touch with them as well.
My Spanish speaking was not fluent when I arrived there and my confidence in speaking was very low. Not once did I feel ashamed to speak Spanish if anything I felt motivated by my students, staff, and host families to try my best with Spanish.

Program:
Location:
Posted: January 11, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Anonymous
Age:

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