Building a sustainable future

Week Without Walls

GVI’s high school programs abroad perfectly complement the ethos of the Week Without Walls program. Combining cultural exchanges and hands-on activities, GVI’s experiences go beyond traditional classrooms, empowering students to explore the world and make a lasting impact. Our tailor-made itineraries, led by PhD-qualified impact directors, embody the true spirit of experiential learning, making this journey an absolute game-changer!

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.

Teachers and parents

In alignment with the Week Without Walls experiential learning experience, our high school group programs abroad offer students an opportunity to expand their horizons, work on long-term projects run in collaboration with local partners, and develop essential life skills. With a focus on safety and ethics, our high school group programs combine cultural immersion and sustainable development projects, all while fostering personal growth and intercultural understanding. Our expertly crafted itineraries ensure that students gain a deep appreciation for different cultures and environments, while actively contributing to measurable change. Whether it’s working on vital conservation efforts or building essential infrastructure, GVI’s high school group programs empower young minds to become global citizens of tomorrow. By combining the experiences of our group programs with the Week Without Walls initiative, students can broaden their horizons, gain a deeper understanding of global issues, and cultivate a lifelong commitment to sustainable change.

Our school trips abroad typically last 1–3 weeks and include:

  • Volunteer work abroad.
  • A bespoke 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.
  • An expedition leader to student ratio of 1:12.
  • Adventure and exploration activities such as kayaking, hiking, surfing, abseiling or a zip-line 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.

Long-lasting change

GVI’s goal is to create a global community of like-minded individuals making a positive impact. We work in collaboration with local partner organisations in the countries we’re based in, like the Royal Thai Navy Sea Turtle Conservation Centre in Thailand and Teno-Rasca Marine Reserve in Spain. Our mission is to bring lasting change, with alumni, partners and staff continuing to make a positive impact long after the program ends.

Our high school group programs strike the perfect balance between adventure, immersive learning and meaningful service – embracing the creative and service-oriented spirit of the Week Without Walls curriculum. With captivating destinations like Thailand, Greece, Spain and Costa Rica, students are guided by seasoned conservationists and PhD-holding impact directors throughout their experience. They’ll actively contribute to sustainability-driven projects that leave a lasting impact, while getting up close and personal with wildlife and marine conservation efforts. Prepare for an extraordinary journey that will shape their perspective and make a real difference in protecting our planet.

Week Without Walls options for high school students

Phang Nga, Thailand

During the summer holidays, Thailand is a favourite destination for school trips abroad. Located within the picturesque Phang Nga province, GVI’s research station is in the charming beachside town of Ban Nam Khem.

High schoolers who join our conservation program actively engage in projects that make a meaningful contribution to the United Nations Development Goals. Specifically, our projects align with UN SDG 14: Life Below Water and UN SDG 15: Life on Land.

Here students get involved in hands-on projects with measurable impact, such as learning about endangered sea turtles and assisting at a local conservation centre. They’ll also contribute to citizen science datasets and combat plastic pollution through beach cleans.

Phang Nga is an opportunity 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

In Thailand’s scenic northern region, students participating in our elephant conservation program can make a vital impact. Living within the Karen community of Huay Pakoot, surrounded by breathtaking mountains, students work alongside experienced impact directors. With a focus on promoting ethical elephant tourism and gaining valuable insights into regional conservation challenges, this experience is the perfect blend of cultural immersion and conservation work in a remarkable setting.

While in Chiang Mai, students can explore temples, indulge in street food, and experience the vibrant atmosphere. They also have the opportunity to hike through lush mountains, discover hidden waterfalls and go on zip-lining adventures. 

The Canary Islands, Spain

Experience the captivating Canary Islands, a volcanic archipelago that’s an absolute hit for school trips abroad. Collaborating with partners like the Teno-Rasca Marine Reserve in Tenerife, we protect vulnerable species and habitats. With platforms like RedPROMAR, eOceans and the Clean Swell app, we document marine life and combat ocean pollution. Get ready for an incredible adventure that combines exploration and conservation in this stunning destination!

On GVI’s marine conservation program, students collaborate as a team to collect crucial data and capture photographs of whales and dolphins. They’ll also conduct beach cleanups and take part in educational presentations that raise awareness about 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 the beautiful island of Kefalonia, nestled in the mesmerising Ionian Sea, renowned for its jaw-dropping beaches and charming towns. 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 alongside these amazing creatures, as they make a real difference in their protection and conservation.

Students will take part in daily surveys, morning and night, playing a crucial role in tracking nesting activity. Under the guidance of our dedicated team, students will conduct surveys to record information and safeguard turtle nests from predators and potential damage caused by seawater. This hands-on conservation experience goes beyond textbooks, deepening students’ understanding of marine ecosystems and nurturing a profound sense of environmental responsibility.

We’ve made room for you to enjoy free time and added optional excursions to take this adventure to the next level. Our program is fully customisable, ensuring an unforgettable experience tailored to your school’s wishes.

Gandoca, Costa Rica

Our conservation experience in Gandoca is tailor-made for students with a passion for wildlife and environmental conservation. Located in the southernmost Caribbean coastal town of Costa Rica, Gandoca is surrounded by the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge. Students can look forward to an extraordinary educational experience as they trek through lush rainforests, encounter creatures like howler monkeys, sloths and toucans, witness sea turtles nesting, and learn about the invaluable role of mangrove forests. Consider this area a giant outdoor classroom, where the subjects of conservation, ecology and the preservation of our planet’s ecosystems come to life.

High school students can actively contribute to sustainable projects with long-term impact by collecting data. They can assist in mangrove reforestation research, monitoring sea turtle nests, and conducting beach cleans to protect nesting beaches from pollution. 

In Costa Rica, students can enjoy a variety of exciting activities. Like trekking through Cahuita National Park, learning to make tamales, visiting a local cacao farm, and hiking to stunning beaches and waterfalls. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

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.

Commitment to sustainable impact and lasting change

With GVI, you can become part of transformative experiences that leave a lasting impact. Our dedication to sustainable impact is evident through our permanent hubs and year-round project work in collaboration with our valued partners. With a focus on sustainability and fostering enduring relationships, GVI is steadfast in creating a positive and long-lasting influence on the communities and environments we engage with.

A progressive approach

We go beyond traditional textbook learning by empowering students with essential skills for an ever-changing world. Our programs prioritise personal growth, transforming students into future leaders who are equipped to tackle global challenges intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Led by our knowledgeable Impact Directors, who hold PhD qualifications, and facilitated by experienced conservationists, our masterclasses provide valuable insights. Aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, our projects make measurable impacts, supported by scientific research from trusted sources like Google Scholar. 

An ethical approach

Ethics is at the core of everything we do – it guides our actions and decisions. Our impact directors ensure that our projects are conducted with unwavering integrity and deep respect for local communities. By partnering with local community organisations, we acknowledge their invaluable expertise in understanding the needs of their own communities. Collaboration is key as we strive to create a long-term impact that truly matters. Prior to departure, we offer comprehensive support, providing guidance from qualified professionals and program experts. With over 20 years of experience working with youth, we prioritise open and transparent communication, fostering trust and ensuring a rewarding journey for all involved.

Safety comes first

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, crisis management plans and situational risk assessments. These cater for all manner of events that might occur on base. Our expertise in managing young participants in international destinations has also secured us British Standards 8848 compliance.

We offer 24-hour support in-country, as well as a 24-hour emergency desk, which is also available to parents. 

Assisting teachers every step of the way

We value the crucial role of teachers in our school trips abroad. To ensure peace of mind, we maintain a minimum ratio of one expedition leader to every 12 participants, providing additional support and supervision throughout the journey. Your safety and success are our top priorities.

To support the smooth running of our programs, we offer three complimentary teacher spots for every twelve high school students attending our program. Pre-departure support, including travel logistics and program expectations, is provided. A dedicated teacher webinar allows for questions and feedback from our support coordinators. 

To support teachers and students preparing for their expedition, we have an online hub which provides essential information, resources, and opportunities for connection and progress tracking, all within a flexible time frame of 8–10 hours over five months.

Trusted transport and communication

GVI takes care of all transportation arrangements throughout the project, including the final airport drop-off, under the guidance of our experienced expedition leaders. To facilitate smooth airport arrivals for our groups, we establish instant messaging groups that enable seamless communication between students, teachers, parents and expedition leaders. Upon arrival, uniformed GVI expedition leaders greet the group at the airport and ensure their safe transportation to the designated accommodation. Following this, parents receive a reassuring email notification confirming the safe arrival of their child. 

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

Setting the standard for excellence

GVI has over two decades of experience in running tailor-made group programs. Our unwavering commitment to excellence has earned us numerous prestigious awards. Through our comprehensive 360-degree support, we strive to create exceptional high school group programs that deliver a unique and unforgettable learning experience for young students.

Hear from students and educators

“We enjoyed and appreciated the generosity and professionalism in GVI staff from the early stage about communication to the farewell. Everything has been well coordinated and clearly communicated. We sure feel part of the family.”

– Dorothe, educator at Odsherreds Efterskole

“It was very educational and fun but also impactful.”

– Jessika, student at Odsherreds Efterskole

“I thoroughly recommend GVI to anyone; whether you are an educator looking to take a group away, or an individual looking for a career break or some volunteering experience, GVI will cater for you.”

– Matthew, educator at Newton International School

“Working in a large group of 16 people I learned leadership, patience, and how to contribute positively in a team, abilities that will all be useful in future employment. But aside from having a positive impact on my future employability, this program left a positive impact on the world around me.”

– Rhiannon, student at Duke University

“Having spent 10 years planning and leading school adventures for young people I have experienced first-hand the benefits and valuable life skills that group travel brings. I have confidence that by taking your students out of their comfort zone, by challenging them and allowing them to explore, meet people, work as a team and experience a different culture we can enhance their education and understanding. By enabling your students – our next generation – to see and experience the world for themselves we can help them become active global citizens. Our Mission is to increase cultural understanding and awareness of global issues within our alumni and to equip our alumni with the knowledge and ability to further contribute towards key global and local issues.”

– Tim, educator

“I can’t thank this organisation enough for helping me grow and giving me an incredible experience I won’t forget.”

– Abagail, student at Endicott College

“After eight weeks of participating in a wide variety of activities as a 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 recognize 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, student at Duke University

“The students who participated have been thrilled at the amazing results from their efforts!”

– Susan, educator

“I’ve learned more than I ever imagined I would. I most definitely would recommend GVI because the organisation of projects, accommodation and resources were exceptional.”

– Harshel, student at Duke University

To read more testimonials from educators and students, visit our groups testimonials page.

See what other parents & participants say

Read reviews and recommendations from all over the world.

Our ultimate guide to group programs

Group programs brochure

Over the last two decades, GVI has established itself as the world-leader in purpose-driven group expeditions. We have three GVI Expedition itinerary types to choose from that have been carefully developed to meet certain goals and learning outcomes. We’re building a global network of people, united by their passion to make a difference. Find out everything you need to know to start your group adventure.