I found GVI through searching on the internet volunteering abroad. I am a huge animal lover and had always been keen on volunteering in different parts of the world to help aid towards conservation. I believe it is important to look after our natural world as it provides so many benefits to us. I decided to volunteer with GVI as I believe in what they stand for and I wanted to help towards a project they were running. With this I completed my research into the company, read reviews and they did come across as a very safe company to travel with. My mind was made up and I had chosen GVI. All I had to do next was narrow down what project I wanted to go on. GVI offer numerous, amazing, once in a lifetime projects that all are benefiting our planet in numerous different ways. I had always been keen on elephant conservation and when I found GVI Chiang Mai I decided to go ahead and book for 1 month. This was my first time abroad and I felt 1 month was suffice, although I wish I stayed longer!!!! I arrived and my journey in Huay Pakoot started. A day in the life of a volunteer in the village is fantastic. There is an abundance of activities to get involved in, whether it be hikes to see the magnificent elephants, bird watching, teaching in the local school and nursery or even base duty! There is always something to be doing. What I also liked is you had the chance to have some down time to, to contact family, read a book or just chill. I have made friends for life that live all across the world which I find amazing. We all came together and became one big family for the time I spent there, and it made my time even more special meeting these amazing people. With this, we had the opportunity to go to Pai and Chiang Mai on the weekends – travel arranged in the village and was fairly cheap! There were also different activities that came up including night hikes, cave hikes, basket weaving and night time classes for the adults of the village! GVI have had such an amazing impact on the village and it was interesting to hear the difference GVI have made in the years they have been in the village. I also got to be a part of the end of crop celebration that only happens twice a year! This involved going around every villager’s beautiful home, them performing a giju (unsure how to spell it) and the volunteers all trying the rice whisky (I have to say, it is not a firm favourite). That was probably my favourite day as everyone came together and had a great time. The staff were all fantastic too. If you had any issues or concerns, they were there to help at any time. If you were feeling ill or dehydrated after a hard hike, they would provide you with the correct medication to get you back to feeling 100%! It was also apparent how much each of the staff members loved their jobs and really cared about improving the village and the elephant’s welfare. Coming from a university degree that is business based (BSc Real Estate), I will never really have the chance to work closely with animals for a decent amount of time, hence why I decided to get involved with GVI and fulfil my dreams of doing so through volunteering! I had the most incredible time with GVI and have decided to do the 6-month internship in Limpopo, South Africa this September. I cannot recommend GVI enough and tell all my friends about them! For anyone considering a GVI program, I would tell them to go for it! I appreciate heading abroad yourself can be daunting, but everyone is so welcoming, and you meet friends for life. I am actually heading to South Africa with a girl I met on the Chiang Mai Program! We have kept in contact with each other and visit each other regularly! It will be the most rewarding experience of your life and you will have memories to cherish forever! GVI you are fab!