All GVI study abroad programs have a 6 week duration, but students will only be in country conducting field work on community or conservation projects for 2 weeks.
Your Study Abroad program begins 2 weeks prior to departure, when you'll participate in an online course, getting to know your instructor, GVI international field staff and your classmates, all of whom may come from many different institutions across the U.S. and around the world. A majority of your time abroad will be spent outside the classroom, as you work alongside our staff and community partners to address various challenges in the region that you have discussed during the pre-departure sessions.
Costa Rica is famous for its natural beauty, diverse environment and protective national policies yet it is also host to many efforts aimed at impacting relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. During your GVI course, you will study critical issues like plastic use, pollution, effects of tourism and palm oil production, immigration, sea debris, beach litter, garbage pollution and overfishing. All of these have an impact on the environment and will form the cornerstone of your six week program. There is also a lot to be learned from studying mangroves and their ability to reduce the impact of hurricanes, for example, yet tourism and development have led to the reduction (and destruction) of some mangroves, thereby putting local inhabitants at great risk.
This program also focuses on the tension between conserving natural resources and the issue of food security in the region. You will be directly involved in the creation of sustainable vegetable gardens, working alongside community members to establish a new resource for tackling food scarcity in the area.
What's Not Included
You'll leave for your chosen destination prepared for a unique and impactful experience abroad. GVI will meet you at the airport, transport you to our center, provide a comprehensive orientation and help you settle into your housing (single-sex dorm rooms). You'll have the chance to explore your surroundings, learning about GVI's work in Costa Rica and preparing for an action-packed two weeks that include hands-on work on a variety of projects, lectures and group discussions, cultural excursions and facilitated reflection sessions.
Throughout your time in Quepos, there will also be time to learn more about Costa Rican culture and other successful sustainable development projects that have had a positive impact on the local environment and inhabitants.
Upon returning home, you'll continue your online course for another 2 weeks, discussing your insights and experience abroad while also exploring ways to continue your involvement in addressing the UN SDG’s in your local community at home.
What's Not Included
All of GVI’s 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 comprehensive manner, measuring upon which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution. The experiential component of your course is designed to advance GVI’s existing project work and will help our local partners achieve the goals they have set for their communities and enable GVI to continue making a positive and measuring our contribution to the UN SDGs.
Our goal is to educate you about local and global issues, so that you continue to act as an active global citizen after your course is completed, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
What's Not Included
Participating in a course with GVI not only allows you to participate in programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers an insider’s glimpse into life the local area. Your time in Quepos may include a guided tour of the world famous Manuel Antonio National Park where you may see a variety of animals in their natural habitat, a visit to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, some fun time to participate in surfing or kayak lessons, meals in the homes of our community partners, a guided tour of the endangered mangroves and a small island cut off from the mainland by recent hurricanes.
There are a few exciting cultural excursions included in this programme; our long-term field staff are a great source of advice, so please talk to them about these before you depart for the program.
Meet Hannah, our happy education officer. Hannah joined the GVI staff after she decided to work abroad in the field, in a more face to face role. She has a degree in Spanish and English Literature, evidently making her a perfect fit for this role!
Hannah also has other impressive experience working abroad. "I worked in Spain for a year as a language assistant in a primary school. I then went to Colombia and I ran a conversation club in a University. When I returned from Colombia I got a job with World Challeng. In between all this I have nnterrailed around Europe, spent a summer volunteering in a hostel in Barcelona, helped to lead an expedition to Morocco, cycled around Cuba, hiked in Peru, rocked around the Galapagos and Ecuador, spied on Orangutans in Borneo and chased Penguins in the Falkland Islands!"
Meet Luis, our well-travelled logistics manager! Luis studied Arts History and also has degree in Human Resources. His first contact with volunteer work was when he was studying at the University of Costa Rica and worked on a project to protect the sea turtles at Ostional beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Luis has a culturally diverse background as his stepfather was German and he had the opportunity to get to travel to some European, American and Latin American countries.
The chance to contribute to community development and help shape the children’s futures is what first attracted Luis to GVI. He loves getting to know and work with all the volunteers from around the world!
Meet Eunice, our experience base manager here in Quepos. Eunice is a Biologist with a Masters in high school education and has volunteer experience doing construction work in the middle of a forest in Germany, rebuilding some public areas in a small village in the north of Spain, and working with marine turtles in Costa Rica. She has also been lucky enough to have travelled around Europe, China, Canada and the USA.
Her internship as a Environmental Educator was what set her career into motion and now, years later, she is still pursuing her passion for the environment and teaching. She loves working for GVI as it gives her the opportunity to make a difference and to work with people from all around the world!
Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.
When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!
Cynthia Arochi Zendejas
Costa Rica Country Director
Meet Cynthia, our Country Director in Costa Rica. She started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2006 and later became our Programme Coordinator in Mexico. Her skills and enthusiasm just made it too hard to let her get away!
Cynthia is a certified Veterinarian, an EFR Instructor and holds a Master’s degree in International environmental Science. She is also a member of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, chapter Costa Rica.
The most interesting things she’s experienced during life in the field? “Watching the turtles hatching! Also finding jaguar tracks and being able to participate in community tours.” Apart from those, Cynthia also loves arranging and participating in the fun Charity Challenges with volunteers.
What does Cynthia think volunteers bring to the projects? Since our goal is to provide support to local organisations which don’t have the human or economic resources to achieve their conservation or sustainable development objectives, our volunteers play a key role by being the hands needed, or helping to fund raise for those projects.”