Climate Activism Internship in the Caribbean

Video and Photos

Me and a few of my team with the kids
Me and a few of my team with the kids
The Big day! organic garden opening
The Big day! organic garden opening
Team building
Team building
His & Sunset
His & Sunset
boat
boat
petit bordel
petit bordel
gate
gate
Amazing views
Amazing views

About

Join a 1-month or 6-month intensive program that includes studies, courses, and hands-on activities to help prepare the small island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines ready for Climate Change.

Global warming and climate change are serious. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a “disaster-prone” country. Hurricanes and flooding kill people and leave hundreds homeless. Climate change has thus become a major issue and there is a need for individuals to take action for a secure and sustainable future.
During 5 years we have planted 30,000 trees, cleaned up 30 tons of trash from rivers and beaches, set up 50 organic gardens and Biogas digesters, produced TV and Radio programs, and held "Open Days" in which we teach in schools, community centers, and festivals. Join us to make a lasting impact on these beautiful islands.

Richmond Vale Academy is a climate center with solar, biogas digester, water collection, climate smart farming, permaculture, and more.

Highlights
  • Learn about climate change, study, watch and discuss documentaries with your team
  • Learn to run projects bottom up by mobilizing and teaching people
  • Improve your social and practical skills
  • Live in a community of like-minded people from all over the world
  • Learn to grow organic vegetable in a tropical climate permaculture way
Do you want to join hands with people from all over the World Fighting Poverty and Global Warming - then come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

85%
based on 31 reviews
  • Growth 8.1
  • Support 8
  • Fun 8.1
  • Housing 8.2
  • Safety 7.9
Showing 1 - 15 of 31
Default avatar
Katrine
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Intense but very rewarding, and memories to last a life time. I still think about my time there every day

Overall, I really enjoyed my 6 months in St. Vincent and RVA. The staff was really helpful before my arrival and when I arrived at the school, the students and staff made me feel at home right away.
Before you go, you should know:
-It's an intense (but very rewarding) program - 6 work days per week with Sundays off.
-There's a lot of physical labour, which I enjoyed very much.
-The teachers are more like group leaders so don't expect the program to be highly academic. It's more about practical training - how to build things, how to manage projects etc.
-You work a lot in groups, so be a good team player!

If you're up for a demanding and rewarding 6 months, learning what development work is outside of the textbooks, you should definitely go! What are you waiting for?

If you would like to ask me questions, you're welcome to write me on Facebook: Katrine Winther Erlendsson

What was your funniest moment?
One time, I visited TreTre's (school chef at RVA) farm, where she gave me pig belly soup - and she wouldn't tell me what it was before I tasted it, because she knew I would think it was gross!
Default avatar
Camille
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a lifetime!

Where do you go and what do you do when you want to become a climate change activist? When you start watching a lot of documentaries, understanding what is happening in the world, asking yourself about your role in society, and wondering how we ended up there, then it’s time to take a step towards a different lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be as radical as moving to the Caribbean, though that’s the choice I made.

Climate change...what a vast subject. It feels like each and every action that we take in our comfortable western lives leads to this. We are indoctrinated with the belief that we need to always buy more, so we always produce more and then we just always throw away more. This remark from a friend still resonates with me: “You’re throwing this away. But there is no Away!” We are taught to put things in waste bins and once our waste is in there, well, we stop thinking about it altogether. We are completely disconnected and nobody is held responsible for the waste we produce.

I wanted to act and make a difference in the world, at my scale. I know that I won’t change the world on my own, but by working along with all the little “ants of change,” it might be possible to make things move. That’s why I think it’s time for me to listen to the wise who say, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Gandhi)
Participating in one of RVA’s programs means being part of a team of 2 to 30 people from all over the world and that means adapting to very different ways of thinking, different ways of working. Some traditions or ways of expressing our feelings and emotions and passing on messages vary greatly from culture to culture. Something that you would normally say or do in your country might upset someone from a different culture and it can result in conflicts. A conflicts can be challenging to deal with as it soon becomes a global/public matter in the small community. As amazing and beautiful as it is, living at RVA brings its fair share of challenges and can sometimes be overwhelming, but it is all well worth it.
Living at RVA means giving up some of your usual comfort. For many of us, we have lived in a home with our family and then moved out to our own place like a flat or a house. Most of us had access to our own bathroom and a nice kitchen in which we could prepare whatever we fancied. Coming to RVA, you start by sharing a room, which most of us have not done for a very long time. That can create some difficulties in the beginning, as you get to share with a total stranger. This is a real challenge for some of us. But because we come here for a specific purpose we all work together to make it functional.
Spending six months at RVA was a way for me to define and explore possibilities for the future. I know that I don’t want to go back to a society that pushes me to be someone that I’m not. I don’t want to purchase dead things, wear make-up, and have a job that will benefit only a few. I want to change my lifestyle, live closer to the earth and nature, plant trees, and walk barefoot. Being part of a team, learning about the issues of the world, working in the gardens at RVA and in the village, meeting the local community, creating relationships with very different people is a very enriching experience that everybody should have the chance to live.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
It's not always easy, but in the end it's all worth it! People usually wait until they go back home to realize that they lived something exceptional, come with your positivity and enthusiasm to make the best out of this experience!
Default avatar
Alexa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One month in the Caribbean

I was at Richmond Vale in July for the one month climate change program. I learned how to live a more sustainable life and did a variety of work including putting up solar panels, planting trees, and gardening. It was a rewarding month for me. Plus St. Vincent is a beautiful island with beautiful views. Would recommend for anyone who isn't scared to get their hands dirty and love to eat fruit! (There is a fruit forest with tons of different fruits to try and I would take full advantage of that! One of the things I miss the most, other than the people of course!) One month was a perfect amount of time for me, since I am a student, but if you really want to make a difference in St. Vincent I would recommend a longer stay. The month goes by very quickly!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to jump into the program. Soak up every moment because it will go by fast. You can either enjoy your time or hate it, it is all up to you and your attitude!
Default avatar
Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

a life-changing experience, honestly

When I decided to join the Climate Compliance Conference team in November 2018, I did not expect this program to have such a long-lasting effect on my outlook on life. Spending 6 months living a communal life with people from all walks of life, trying to live as self-sustainably as possible, learning and sharing knowledge at the same time, being closer to nature than I've ever been, working with communities with very different stories to everything I've encountered before - all of these things shaped my experience and gave me the courage to decide to pursue a different lifestyle even after completion of the program.
You'll most probably find yourself identifying as a Climate Activist after living at RVA for half a year, even if you didn't expect to ;)

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
honestly, my attitude - i would try to be even more open to all kinds of experiences, feelings, informations from the get go, not just a few weeks in.
Read my full story
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Yuka
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A whole new life in St.Vincent

The 6 month in RVA changed my perspective so much.
I learned how to seed, grow, and harvest organic plants, how fresh tropical fruits on a road taste good, how beautiful Vincy nature is... I can’t mention all things what I saw, felt, and experienced.
However, the biggest notice there is I used to be surrounded by too much stuff, energy, and plastics. I did minimal life with organic foods, a few disposable things, and magnificent natures to spend time. Almost everything was my first experience and it was so simple but made me relaxed.
To be honest, the system and the equipment to live comfortably are not perfect yet. But that also can be the reason why I recommend you come to RVA. People from all over the world are trying to improve their lives through sharing their ideas and having responsibilities to run RVA. So you could see the difference of their sense of value and how difficult but fun to live with others.
To sum up, the life in RVA give you new criterion of values which affects your entire life. If you want a natural adventure, RVA will help you.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
First, I would learn using English well before I join the program. The other members around me were so helpful but I felt sorry I couldn’t explain what I wanted to say.
Second, I would enjoy the nature more. I realized having a beach within 10 minutes walking from where I live was so precious.
My students and I SVG HORSE SCHOOL
Tishorn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Becoming a better person.

I joined a one month team some years back and have since then kept in contact with Richmond Vale Academy on and off. I learned a lot of practical skills from my time at RVA and I also realized what Global Warming and Climate Change means for a small island nation like St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the causes for this. And most importantly I learned that we can do something about it!
After the course I lived in Kingstown some years, which I didn't like much. I returned to farming and I am now working my dream job as assistant manager of SVG horse school, I am closely connected to my farm and the community of Richmond Vale Academy, which i love so much and which taught me to be more independent.
Having been in contact with RVA I have improved my self-esteem and discovered some new gifts and talents in myself that i never knew existed like singing, writing and socializing with people from all over the world.
I can see myself contributing to Richmond Vale Academy and my country in the years to come.

What would you improve about this program?
RVA has 7 horses and I am very happy that we start up SVG Horse school again because that means that children and youth can learn Horseman ship and horse back riding which I have benefitting much in my life.
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Anna
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Sustainable Life

One of the many points why I enjoyed my time at Richmond Vake Academy so much, was that we really lived a sustainable lifestyle. The amount of trash we produced was minimal compared to the amount I produce back home. You don't have to spend money there at all if you don't want to. It opens your eyes that a truly sustainable way of living is indeed possible and in Richmond you are pretty close to it! So if you truly want to do something for the earth and want to life together sustainable, than Richmond Vale Academy is a great place to begin your work! And you not just live stustainable you also life together with many people from all different places in the world which gives you a opportunity to discover each other's culture and listen to people from all over the world!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I once ate Armadillo in a local restaurant and the food there is really good but sadly my stomach thought otherwise about the armadillo....
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Tobias
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A different lifestyle

The things i remember most from my arrival at RVA was the diversity of trees, plants and flowers that meets you on the road up to the school. Everything was so colorfull and bright. You also have a beautiful view of the ocean right infront of the school and a big, open mainhall that you walk through at the start of your journey.

You know mostly how your time will be spent after reading all the information you get before you arrive, but I was a bit surprised over how much you actually are part of. The students have the program they signed up for but also many other responsibilities like maintance, school garden, compost, horses and more. This will for many teach you have to use tools, how to plan meals for many people and other skills you can take with you where ever you go next.

For me the food was a huge difference from what I am used to. Normally I will never be able to say that I eat healthy, but at RVA I was as close as I can get. Most of the food you eat you grow yourself. Fresh vegetables everyday and a short walk over to the fruit forest and you can grab yourself some guavas or barbados cerrys and plenty more. And you will taste the difference from the shop fruits you have back home, just go and try it and you will understand.

After this experience you will think more about how you do things back home and most likely change some of it aswell now that you know more about how your actions can impact our world.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have a open mind, enjoy your time and go scubadiving!
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Yusuf
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

6 months in the paradise

Before coming here I was so nervous because I was going to one country that I've never heard before. But from first day to until last day, local people and RVA were so kind to us. Of course like everywhere here is not perfect as well but believe in me you will never regret to come here. We are volunteer, our main purpose is doing something for the people, at the same time we are human and sometimes we need to chill, relax and good friends. You can find everything that I mentioned. Making home gardens, swim in the beach, hiking, explore the island, have a nice conversation with local people... This is the right place to be productive, to learn and share.. Thank you RVA, thank you Caribbean.. Coming here was my best decision ever.. Definitely I would come again and recommend to everyone who wants to unforgettable experience..

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Johanna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

action instead of theory

When it comes to climate change, we all have at least some knowledge about it. And all of us know at least a couple things we can do to lower its impacts: take public transport, buy local, switch to green energy, save water, don't overly consume things you don't necasserily need, cut especially beef and dairy out of our diets and so on...
Concerning that, RVA's permaculture teacher Luke mentioned, that if we only look at things we should not do to lower our footprint, that can be very depressing as we look at ourselves as a "disease" to the earth, but if we think about the things we can do that actually have a positive impact on the planet, this is the direction we should look into.
Learning how to grow your own food organically - even though RVA is not self-sufficient yet, getting your energy from the solar stations up on the roof and sharing a home with 60 other people gives you a pretty good idea what an ecological lifestyle should be like.
Apart from that, building homegardens out in the communities in St.Vincent was on one hand a quick start for local people to live more self-sustainably, but also a good way for us to experience a culture that is very different from our own.
In general, this program made me a lot more passionate about the topic of climate change, along with a lot of other social and political problems and even though sometimes you get a little tired of everything, in the end I am very glad I participated as there is a lot that I will take home.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to not stress about things too much because in the end, everything will always turn out fine.
Voluntario
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A very good experience

I had the opportunity to volunteer in Richmond Vale Academy for 4 months from January 4 to April 22, 2019, as a teacher in training.

I worked with 12 women from the communities there in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean in a program called Climate Compliance Conference.

It was a great experience abroad, I met many very good people around the world and made many friends. I learned about culture from different countries and I had the opportunity to practice my English.

The school has very good location with a beautiful view to the volcano and the sea.

What would you improve about this program?
I improve my English because I had the opportunity to practice everyday with people who does not speak Spanish.
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Natalia
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A new experience

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an amazing and beautiful place. It is a paradise, full of good vibes, good energy and wonderful people that I hope to see again someday. I lived there for 6 months, I was part of the Climate Compliance program of november 2017. With my team we were able to build 10 organic home gardens for women-headed households in order to guarantee food security and sovereignty in a sustainable way, at the same time we took action on a small scale against Climate Change. I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to go there and to have challenged myself, before I could not imagine the kind of experience that it would be but in the end I grew a lot in Saint Vincent. I was able to learn many things, not only about permaculture but about me, how to live in community, to improve a language and to learn about different cultures. This experience gives me inspiration and motivation and also a new direction of what I really want to do next.

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Aya
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A place to learn and connect with nature

During the month I was at RVA, I came across amazing people and experienced a number of opportunities that contributed to my growth.
To witness first hand, the self-sustainable system that was put in place at the academy was eye-opening. Learning to work as a team and understanding the importance of contributing to the community, was one of the many benefits of participating in this program.
My team and I were eager to focus on projects that dealt with the locals directly. So, we spent time at local schools teaching children about 2 endangered tree species. We also planted the trees around the island, at school, public gardens and at the academy. By the end of the month, we planted 50 trees in total. It was very rewarding.
We also helped our team leader with his graduation project, a fruit forest at the academy. This project helped me envision the possibilities we have as humans to contribute to nature and live off of it at the same time.
I also appreciated the effort made by the staff to feed us local, whole foods the entire time we were there.
Overall, I'm grateful to have been apart of a program that provided me with an opportunity to give back.

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Rebecca
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Beautiful island, amazing people

I was part of the 2018 November team and I wish I could do it all over again!
The island is absolutely stunning- very mountainous with narrow winding roads, thick jungle and black sand beaches. There's a rainbow everyday and a sunset every night
The local people are very friendly and getting to know them was the highlight of the trip. RVA is on the north leeward side of the island, right near the end of the highway and at the foot of the volcano (I definitely recommend climbing it but bring lots of water!).
There is a football pitch and volleyball net with games every week and is right next to a secluded beach with a reef that is perfect for snorkeling (just be careful when it has been raining a lot because the currents get a lot stronger!). There are also a lot of opportunities to go scuba diving!
It is a 45 minute walk from the village- or 5 minute truck ride, where there's a restaurant that does great karaoke, a calmer beach and Banas' amazing food :) This is also where most of the home gardens are, so you will get to spend quite a bit of time there!
Over the course of the one month programme there will be three major projects: a school based project (we designed and built a humanure toilet for the gardens), a community based project (we investigated the home gardens to see how to improve them in the future) and a permaculture project in the schools gardens. You also get to attend morning classes with all sorts of interesting topics, and tours around the island with the wonderful Selly, join all sorts of clubs, help with the upkeep of the school and learn skills like traditional drumming and bowl making.
RVA is full of funny, interesting, friendly and compassionate people, all uniting around the same cause, you will have some amazing opportunities there. Vincy is the most beautiful place on earth and you will adore every second of your time there.
One mistake I made was flying straight back home- take the time after the project to explore the rest of the Grenadines if you can!
Blessed Love <3 :)

Jenna
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

RVA - A Learning Experience

If you want to learn about permaculture, self sufficiency and climate change then this program is for you. In one month I have learnt so much and gained so much experience from being at the school. This program has inspired me to do more in regards to spreading the word about climate change and teach others about the best permaculture practices. There are alot of tasks and activities based in and around the school so you can learn the basics before going out into the community. I especially enjoyed teaching kids in schools about 2 endangered tree species to the carribean and planting these trees with the kids. Overall this has been a fantastic experience not only in the school but in the community with the local people too.

What would you improve about this program?
Reduce the fee slightly and make more time for volunteers to be in the community.

Interviews

Alumni Interviews

Staff Interviews

About Richmond Vale Academy

By educating people from St. Vincent and the rest of the world, Richmond Vale Academy aims to build the capacity, knowledge and confidence in its’ students. By achieving personal growth and development, future leaders of St. Vincent and of the world...