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Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students

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GVI offers a range of school trips abroad, in multiple locations across the world. These volunteer opportunities for high school students are tailored to fully immerse students in the local culture of their host country, while challenging them to get out of their comfort zone.

As they do so, they’ll take part in impactful activities that contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and the long-term objectives of our in-country partners.


Volunteering abroad during high school lets students gain a better understanding of the world, its challenges and how they can help contribute to making sustainable changes. Our educational school trips abroad are typically 2–3 weeks in length and include opportunities for extensive development, both personally and in skills such as leadership.

All GVI high school volunteer programs include:

  • volunteer work abroad
  • a customised itinerary
  • 360-degree support, before and after the trip
  • travel with a trusted teacher and a highly qualified expedition leader who will accompany each group
  • a teacher and expedition leader ratio of 1:10 
  • adventure and exploration activities such as kayaking, hiking, surfing, abseiling, or a zipline canopy tour 
  • cultural activities such as cooking classes, learning phrases in the local language or watching traditional dance demonstrations 
  • an introduction to the concept of international sustainable development and talks by local subject area experts in areas such as wildlife conservation and community development
  • accommodation and three meals a day
  • transport to and from the airport, and during the rest of the trip.

And there are so many other benefits to educational school trips abroad. It allows high school students who are volunteering the opportunity to work collaboratively as part of a team, to better understand the challenges faced by the local community they’re working alongside, and to gain practical experience. Students will also develop soft skills such as leadership, planning, organisation and public speaking. This will enhance their opportunities for education and help them to broaden their career prospects.

Young British nationals who successfully complete a GVI teen program can apply for awards such as the Award Scheme and Development Accreditation Network (ASDAN) Universities Award or the Duke of Edinburgh Award. 

The ASDAN award is an internationally recognised certificate that can be used to show completed experiential learning and in so doing, improve applications to universities and colleges. 

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is available for application by teens looking to earn their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and boost their career prospects. Teens can use their participation on a GVI program to demonstrate competencies in several of the required focus areas, such as volunteering, skills-development, physical fitness, completing a program, and having gone on a residential school trip abroad. You can also enhance your personal statement on your UCAS application with the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

For groups looking for more than a high school volunteer program, we have also developed a separate range of service-learning group programs. Service-learning is the combination of classroom learning and theory, with hands-on, in-field experiences. This allows students to engage with their academic material while performing activities that help address challenges faced by the local community. It is rounded off with periods of reflective learning, which are shown to increase self-awareness and lead to a better understanding of others.

Not part of a school group, but fancy taking part in a tailor-made program for teenagers? View our under 18 programs here.

Volunteer opportunities for high school students allow for participants to visit locations all around the world, including Thailand, Nepal, South Africa, Cambodia and Costa Rica. On location, participants will experience and gain a better understanding of different cultures. They will also make a valuable contribution to programs that focus on community development or wildlife conservation.



Thailand is a popular choice for school trips abroad as it is a destination many teens wish to visit during their summer holidays. The GVI base is located in the Phang Nga province, in the beachside town of Ban Nam Khem. 

Here, on our Thailand Conservation Experience and Thailand Community Development programs, teens can participate in both conservation and community development activities. 

This could involve helping to raise baby sea turtles and assisting with the cleaning and maintenance of a turtle nursery, as well as conducting beach cleans to address plastic pollution or helping improve learning facilities in the local schools. 


Teens looking for adventure can join our high school volunteer program set in Nepal, and overlook the soaring mountain range of Annapurna. 

Based in the city of Pokhara, students on our Nepal Community Development Experience will work to improve the educational facilities at local schools. They will also be immersed in Nepali culture by visiting Hindu temples and learning how to make traditional dumplings called “momos”. 

Later in the trip, the students will be able to complete a Himalayan trekking route, complete with stays at local teahouse lodges where they will take in views of the snow-capped mountain peaks.


Our educational school trips abroad in South Africa include a volunteer program in Cape Town. High school students will participate in activities such as painting, planting food gardens and removing litter at schools in a local community. They’ll also conduct sports lessons on our Cape Town Community Development Experience

In the process, they will learn about South Africa’s storied history. They’ll also have the opportunity to explore the coastline, where they can see African penguins and fur seals, and take the cable car up Table Mountain.


High school groups will be able to visit the home of Angkor Wat, the largest religious building in the world, when they volunteer abroad on the Cambodia Community Development Experience. Here, they will immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about Cambodia’s heritage.

They’ll also learn a little of the Khmer language while practising English and playing sports with local students, as well as getting involved in activities such as helping to build community gardens and cleaning up plastic pollution.


Experience first hand the “pura vida” lifestyle when you volunteer in the beach town of Quepos in Costa Rica. Quepos is located on the Pacific coast, with vast swathes of untouched coastal rainforest, such as the nearby Manuel Antonio National Park.

High school students interested in visiting Costa Rica during their summer will be well suited to our Costa Rica Community Development Experience in Quepos. They will gain cultural insight into this Central American region and its community, and make a valuable contribution to community-led programs in the region.


Teens interested in a career in rainforest conservation can take part in our high school volunteer program in Costa Rica’s Tortuguero National Park. This location is known for its dense rainforests and long stretches of dark sand beaches. 

And it is here that high school students can assist in collecting research data for our local partner conservation organisations on our Costa Rica Conservation Experience program.

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

GVI has over two decades of experience in running tailor-made group programs. And our commitment to excellence has earned us numerous awards in the field of international experiential education. We offer 360-degree support and work to create the best high school volunteer program possible, in order to provide a unique and memorable learning experience for young students. 

Health and safety is our top priority, which is why we insist on background checks for all of our participants and staff, as well as training in emergency first aid and in the implementation of our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. We have also established extensive Emergency Action Plans (EAPs), crisis management plans and situational risk assessments. These cater for all manner of events that might occur in the field.

We offer 24-hour support in-country, as well as a 24-hour emergency desk, which is also available to parents. In fact, our expertise in managing young volunteers in international destinations has also secured us British Standards 8848 compliance

Also, as chaperones play such an important role in the success of our school trips abroad, we agree in advance to an expedition leader, teacher and student ratio to give additional peace of mind. This is usually a minimum of one expedition leader assigned to a group of six participants.

We also usually offer one free teacher place per each ten high school students attending the program, and offer pre-departure support with travel logistics and to make sure school groups know what to expect upon arrival and during the program. We also conduct a teacher webinar where teachers, parents, guardians and chaperones can ask questions and receive feedback from our support coordinators.

All transport during the project, as well as the final airport drop-off, is provided by GVI expedition leaders. In order to seamlessly manage airport arrivals for our groups, we set up instant messaging groups that allow communication between students, teachers, parents and expedition leaders. Uniformed GVI expedition leaders meet the group at the airport upon arrival and they are then transported to their accommodation. After this point, all parents receive an email letting them know that their child has arrived safely.

For parents and educators looking for more information, visit our parent page to download our Parent Information Pack.

We had a great experience in Nepal this year. The work project was awesome! This is mainly due to the site preparation by GVI and their affiliates in the village of Bandipur. The scope of the project and the physical nature of the construction was perfectly suited to the needs of our students. The project experience was awesome! Great pre-planning, community involvement, and scale of the project. The focus on sustainability and purpose of development was great. Hopefully, we can use this as a model for future projects. All four (staff) are excellent ambassadors for GVI. Cheryl is very well organized and she, along with Bronwen and Seb, was always quick to accommodate our needs throughout our time in Nepal. Kudos to them!

We’ve already been thinking about next year and would like to work with GVI again. It’s the best project I’ve seen in my 5 years!



Download our program brochures

Our Programs

Explore the lush mountainous region of northern Thailand and contribute to vital elephant conservation efforts.
Program Type : Schools, University
Travel to Tenerife where groups will work to support marine conservation projects while being surrounded by the culture and biodiversity of the Canary Islands.
Program Type : Schools, University
Travel to Giannitsochori where groups will work to support coastal conservation projects while being surrounded by the beauty and culture of Greece.
Program Type : Schools, University
Discover the beauty and culture of Cambodia as groups work to support local community development projects.
Program Type : Schools, University
Explore the tropical region of southern Thailand and contribute to vital conservation efforts.
Program Type : Schools, University
Discover Phang Nga when you travel to Thailand and contribute to the education of local impoverished children by improving the community's non-formal education centre, helping to transform it into a key place of learning
Program Type : Schools, University
Explore the fascinating country of Nepal while working to improve educational facilities in local schools and on other community initiatives.
Program Type : Schools, University
Discover iconic Cape Town and immerse yourself in a South African township community while supporting our long term projects though vital construction initiatives, improving infrastructure and children's learning environments
Program Type : Schools, University
Travel to Costa Rica and contribute to our long-term conservation projects while enjoying life in the remote, jungle region of Jalova.
Program Type : Schools, University
Travel to Costa Rica and contribute to our long term conservation and community projects while learning Spanish and enjoying life on the Pacific Ocean's coastal town of Manuel Antonio
Program Type : Schools, University