Climate Activism in the Caribbean Internship

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Fight Global Poverty and Climate Change

Scholarships available for up to 50% on the 12 months programs!
https://richmondvale.org/courses/apply-now

About

Join a 1 or 6 months intensive program with studies, courses and actions to make the small island nation of St. Vincent Climate Compliant.

Global Warming and Climate Change is serious. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a “disaster prone” country. Most of our food and diesel to produce energy is imported. We are not ready for Climate Change. 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.

The program started in 2012 and will run till 2021.
During 5 years we have planted 30,000 trees, cleaned up 20 tons of trash from rivers and beaches, set up 20 organic gardens and Bio gas digesters, produced TV and Radio programs, held Open Days - taught in schools, community centers and festivals.

RVA is a model school and farm on the island; we are producing vegetables using permaculture design, different fruits, eggs and chickens.

Highlights
  • Learn about climate change, study, watch and discuss documentaries with your team
  • Teach local communities about climate change, make St. Vincent a climate compliant country
  • 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 the permaculture way

Questions & Answers

Reviews

83%
based on 17 reviews
  • Growth 7.8
  • Support 7.1
  • Fun 7.5
  • Housing 8.3
  • Safety 7.1
Showing 1 - 15 of 17
Jenna
7/10

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.

How can this program be improved?
Reduce the fee slightly and make more time for volunteers to be in the community.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Karolina
10/10

"Vincy" never leaves my dreams

If somebody asks me about Saint Vincent, I always answer that I was in the place about witch, I had been dreaming for a long time (without even knowing that it exists). 3 months in “Vincy” flied in a blink of an eye. Living in a community, cooking and working together opened my eyes to so many things. I still see Saint Vincent, its wonderful nature, and people in my dreams…Thinking about time in the island, and the work we have done together with a team (making an organic garden at Chateau primary school from 0; being facilitators for youth exchange) warms my heart.

How can this program be improved?
There can be more opportunities to live and work together with local families.
But in general there is nothing I can suggest:)
Yes, I recommend this program
Sebastián
9/10

Another way of living

I was part of the Climate Compliance team #13. The reason why life brought me to one of the most beautiful places on earth was how I see it now, faith. My experience in Richmond Vale Academy was full of growth on a personal level. I had the opportunity to discover the best of myself, and it was partly because of the program. More than the numerous hikes, the amazing coral reefs, the stunning sunsets and magical black beaches, the encounter with the local culture was my favorite experience. Vincy people taught me to be happy above all. Their kindness and big hearts will be memories I will cherish all my life and that was a motivation to give my best during my time on the island.

As part of my program, I built together with some other fellow teammates a water reservoir for our organic garden. As responsible of a portion of the schools nutrition by co-running the 3 greenhouses and surrounding areas, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about Permaculture. Personally, this was one of the main reasons for me to enroll on the program, so I was very satisfied with the outcome of it, at the extent that after the island I pursued a Permaculture Design Course and I plan to make it as my way of living in the near future. Additionally to my learning outcomes, I participated on the establishment of a farmers market, initiative that friends from the previous team begun and I continued with the support of other teammates. This was a beautiful experience to bond with the local community, and I am grateful enough to call many of the people I knew there my friends.

I also had the opportunity to know a little bit of the country visiting a nearby island called Bequia. It was part of one of the research tasks of the program and the objective was to learn about eco-tourism.

Living in the school is a challenging experience. You learn how to live in community and to respect each others space, contributing to maintaining things running and working hard. I liked the fact that the learning outcomes are set by yourself. the school is a platform but you are responsible for your knowledge and your ambitions with the program. I think this helped me build character and determination.

Finally, it is a great opportunity to meet amazing people. I made real friends that I still see today despite the time and place difference. Being surrounded by people with similar goals in life show you that theres is so much to do in this world but the only option is doing it together.

As a recommendation to people wanting to follow the program, I would say ask all the questions you need to do before going. Think if what the program offers is really what you are looking for and once you make that decision fully commit to it, enjoy it and give your best. In conclusion, make your time there count.

How can this program be improved?
I would say it will be nice to have more participation of the local community in order to guarantee the endurance of the actions developed. A the end, all the efforts made are for them.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Vanessa
9/10

Unforgettable

The time spent at Richmond Vale was magic indeed. I love the way they are heading to self sufficiency,how setting an example can shape the way for others to follow, how they use to involve communities around in their actions and thus spread awareness with thousands of events,visits and conferences they use to organise in there; and last but not least how wonderful nature is in there and do not miss scuba diving and discover the wonderful undersea world as well. Briefly speaking was an eye's openning and very fruitful experience filled with joy and wonderful people that I wouldn't hesitate to have over and over again. Thanks a lot for everything.

How can this program be improved?
.... The more people the best, there is a lot that need to be done. Filling the school with active people hungry for actions and good will to give an extra hand to communities and the common life is what can make it work up to the peak.
Yes, I recommend this program
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derrol
10/10

I learned a lot

During the one(1) month course at the Richmond vale academy. I have learned a lot an organic farming and climate change for example like natural fertilizer their is the banana that get potassium and also natural pesticides like pepper and gallic liquid etc. which good for the use of plant care. so we all live sustainable and make the world a better place, well i must say that i had an amazing experience during may time the Richmond vale academy and urge others to come an experience this interesting program.

How can this program be improved?
by have more volunteers to enhance the teaching process.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sara
9/10

An Opportunity to Learn, to Grow, and to Act.

I chose this program because it was an opportunity to do something different and to engage in meaningful action. There were a few things that I hoped to gain from my experience at RVA: 1) Clarity. I hoped the program would give me a better picture of how I wanted to move forward both career wise and in everyday life. 2) Inspiration. I wanted to revitalize my passion for environmental stewardship and addressing social problems. 3) Practical skills. I wanted to leave RVA with a handful of new skills that would aid me in living a life that would be more sustainable, more conscientious, and healthier. I can honestly say that RVA helped me to achieve all of these things. I am grateful for my experience at the school and for the opportunity to travel, create new relationships, and to broaden my understanding of the world.

I believe that the community projects and sustainability goals that drive RVA are a positive force in a world that sorely needs effective programs that build people up and take care of our planet. I will say that the program is not perfect; I experienced frustrations as well as doubts over the course of my time at RVA. Ultimately, these are the things that open our minds and help us expand the way that we think and how we deal with challenges. The difficult moments are the ones that make us grow. Richmond Vale Academy gives you these opportunities: to learn more about the climate, poverty, sustainability, and community living; to experience self growth and to have a better understanding of what humans mean for this world we live in; and to DO something about the all of the problems that we see and talk about and think about everyday. I am very glad that I decided to do the Climate Compliance Program at RVA.

How can this program be improved?
Increased community engagement. 

Communication between teachers/staff/students and even guests. (Although, communication within RVA works fairly well and the teachers are always available to the students, there is always room for improvement and the introduction of new systems of communication.)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Malte
9/10

Unforgettable 6 Months

Yo, the best team member of the 14th Climate Compliance Team here, also known as Malte.
I'm going to keep this review shorter (in my sense of short), but it will have everything you would want to know.
The 6 months I spent at RVA were unforgettable for me.
Not only did my English and and my ability to understand other people grow immensely, I also got to make so many new friends and it really was life-changing.
Before I went to RVA, I was lost what I should do for my life. While I had many opportunities, I still felt kind of lost.
Being at RVA and having a teammates for 6 months opened my eyes in many way. Being only 17 years old by the time I came there, I was still a child in many ways. I didn't really understand what it meant to work as a team. To work on a big project. To share work and burdens. To communicate and rely on each other.
But through the everyday interactions with my team and the schools teacher, I learned a lot what it meant to be a responsible adult. I know can enjoy life more than every, since I see so many things in my everyday life that I never really appreciated before.
Our team also helped the local community a lot and we created many bonds and friendships with many people. It really made me happy to see that my work was appreciated.
I honestly wish many more young people would go out to some international volunteer project to really experience another side of life. It is an invulnerable experience that everyone should have. It helps them and it helps you.
I am happy I spent those 6 months in St.Vincent. And while some things could have been done better in terms of project preparations, many things were good as they were. In my point of view, my team got to experience how to build up relationships and trust, how to make new projects and encourage others to continue our work.
Thank you Sally, Elliyas, Jesper, Thomas, Else, Stina and all the other local people I met there!
Thank you Calvin, Baha, Mahsa, Lily, Niklas, Dominico and all the other people of the Academy I got to meet!
And thank you Lillith, Saurys, Sara, Casey, Kwakou, Merijn and Sam for letting be a part of this awesome team!
I hope whoever is reading this review could feel the happy memories and feelings I put into this.
Until I visit RVA again!
Malte out *whoosh*

(P.s: People don't be mad at me if I didn't mention you name here! D: This review be around 50% only naming people if I do that!)

How can this program be improved?
More preparation before the program starts, meaning you don't have to start everything from scratch, but rather can build on the work and efforts of other teams.
More involvement of the students in the decisions of the teachers that involve the students.
Better planing/communication between teachers, students, workers and other people.
A more open minded view and willingness to discuss and compromise on both teachers and students decisions and opinions.
Yes, I recommend this program
Maria
8/10

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

RVA provides sustainable projects to communities, using your skills to make a real difference to the communities, learn through immersion in another culture, and have the experience of a lifetime.

This program was a gap year for me to learn and give back to the society. The lifestyle of was very different compared to staying in the urban areas. As a Development Instructor in Richmond Vale Academy has been a life changing experience for me. I left back memories and best friends.

I strongly recommend this program to anyone who wants to expand their understanding of this world and make a difference for someone and especially for you too. Remember All depends on the creativity of the Volunteer.

Yes, I recommend this program
Tori
8/10

Life changing

Had the time of my life...

Beautiful island paradise... the local people where always so friendly.

A lot of potential to improve the island in which I think it needs.

The opportunities are endless to improve the local area.

Education is the way forward with the people.

I have a lot of very fond and prescious memories that I will hold forever! I love the island so much that I'm moving back now.

How can this program be improved?
More work in the community

Safety

Bikes
Yes, I recommend this program
Max
8/10

What is RVA about?

What is RVA about? Well, the answer to this question is different for every person that has been there or is there right now. RVA means something different for each of these people.
What I can tell you is what RVA was for me and how I saw this place during my stay.
RVA is a place for giving and getting great things back. During my short stay for only one month I participated in the climate compliance program and learned so many new things about sustainability, organic farming, permaculture, other problems we as the human race face and most important, I learned new things about myself. To be there feeling this energy of activism and drive was such an experience.

Besides getting input in every kind RVA is about creating your own ideas when it comes to think about problems and finding a way to solve them or even to just start your own little project to make the academy and the whole island better and more sustained.
All these things can’t happen when you don’t have a great team and so many great people around you. This is the heart of RVA, people who work and live there together, helping each other, teaching each other and of course having fun together.

Seeing and experiencing the culture of St. Vincent and its residents was so great. They don’t have much but what they surely have is a warm heart and always a smile on their face.
I guess I don’t have to mention how beautiful St. Vincent and the Grenadines are and how amazing the nature is. How about standing directly into the crater of a volcano or experiencing the underwater world during a dive. This just leaves you with the “wow”-effect.

I could write so much more about this academy but the best thing for you is to go there and find out what RVA is to you! 

Yes, I recommend this program
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Oscar
9/10

An amazing experience

I was in Richmond Vale Academy in 2012-2013 in the GAIA Six Month Program, were I learned a lot of thinks. Even English, because when I was there I did not speak English. Now I can say that I speak English more or less. At least enough to communicate wiht English speakers. Maybe you can see a lot of mistakes in this text, but, five years ago I wasn't able to write anything in English.
I knew a lot of pepole around the world in RVA, from Spain, Germany, Russia, Japan, India, Finland, Norway, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela (where I am from), Colombia, Costa Rica, USA, Sweeden, Latvia, England, France, etc.
It was wonderful becuause it enriched my knowledge about different cultures.
In the Climate Change Compliant Conference I learned a lot about global warming and climate change and how to avoid ist effects to live safe, specially near the sea in the poor communities. We study the GAIA Theroy, recycling, biogas production, rain water collection, and most important: how to work close people in the communities, trough The Gaia Kids Club, where we teach children how to plant, grow and harvest in a organic way, developing micro projects in the communities, like, for example, rain water colletion, teaching in the schools, also sharing culture activities with children and adults as well.
For me it was very special to learn about organic farming. In Richmond Vale Academy. I leard how to plant, also how to make organic fertilizer and organic pesticide and how to improve our own production.
Every saturday we had culture night and it was very funny, because the activites were organized by ourselves. Every saturday the responsible group choose the matter to develop. That was a kind of weekly celebration.
We worked as a team every day. We made our best effort to reach or goals. We study a lot. I think this is a great opportunity to meet people, to learn and to share experience with people from all over the world.

How can this program be improved?
I think the program could expand the lessons in the schools, not only five lessons. The program could be bigger than nowsdays. For example, 1 lesson by month all year long.
Yes, I recommend this program
Maria
9/10

1 Month - The Climate Compliance Conference

I had a great time, I looked beyond the little problems and I focused in what I saw - The students , teachers of all ages and with various paths in life, they have one common goal : changing the world into a better place. Most of what we learn won't be in courses or books or illuminated heads but we will learn through our experience together. Here is shown the importance of the common meeting , everyone’s involvement is very important ,because we run this school together, so I felt very delighted with the common meeting , a truly democratic environment, where everyone can talk about what they feel - this is for me a wonderful characteristic of the school . I chose RVA to learn about Permaculture , of course RVA isn't a university , but it gave me the knowledge to implement a project in a poorer place in Africa or India and now I know I can do it. I want to continue to learn from other people and culture. I know I'm not going to change the world but I know that, together, we will be able to make a difference . I want to love and embrace the whole world.
Thank you RVA

Yes, I recommend this program
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Melanie
8/10

1 month - Climate Activist Program - How to live sustainable and in a multicultural community

I arrived one or two weeks later after the program of the 1 Month Climate Activist Team of July finished and I was a little bit scared what will be my program without having a team...
But to be honest ? From the first day I've met people from all over the world- I felt very welcomed and being part of a multicultrual commmunity.
I came to RVA to learn more about Climate Change and how to change things in my own life to live sustainable. I thought it will be more like a real school or academy where you have to make researches, hold every second day a presentation and go daily to classes. But it wasn't like this.
There were some classes or a few presentations held by teachers or students who stayed longer at RVA but it was very interesting and informative. Nevertheless it was not only the hypothetical stuff you have learned, it was also connected to the practical. Two or three times a week we had to clean, harvest in the garden or help to local people.
I had the privelege to be a single student of my smart, funny and open-minded teacher! At the beginning I had to continue with some program of the 1 Month- Climate Activist Team of July but because there was just my teacher and me, we were allowed to choose a project which we were interested in.
We tried to inform the local people of a superhealthy plant called "Moringa" while we went through the streets and promote this plant or went to local families, talked and cooked with them. It was a very good experience to come in contact with some locals and see that these people even without having material things -which we would usually have- are happy!
After this part of the program we decided to make a project about "Whaleing and fishing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines". We went for our investigation to Bequia, a little and beautiful island of the Grenadines, and made some researches to our topic. We've met plenty of friendly and open-minded people who were helping and supporting us. Even one of the workers at RVA was so friendly to take us three times to go fishing with him and gave us a lot of information according to our project.
Concluding I'd like to say even I stayed just for 1 month I had a really good time at RVA. Even if I was scared at the beginning not to have a team, at the end I was kind of happy that I had the chance to make these experiences because I know with a team of many students this was not possible. Nevertheless I enjoyed the beautiful people from different countries with whom you share good moments (after or by working). I appreciate my stay at RVA because now I know how I can deal with the implications for myself and how to convince others.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Laura
3/10

1 month - THE CLIMATE COMPLIANCE CONFERENCE

I will summarize three main reasons at the base of my negative experience at Richmond Vale Academy (RVA): organization, knowledge and safety.
1. Organization: the 90% of your time at RVA will be spent in the activities necessary to run the school. These activities are: cleaning the different part of the school (kitchen, main hall, garden), food production ,harvesting food, garden farming and building week-day-weekend (the length depend on what it is planned). For the cleaning you will spend 1h every day plus once a week an entire morning as the food production. All these activities are time consuming because you will receive contrasting instructions on how you have to do them or no instruction at all.
Other activities as beach and river clean up are not organized: you are not aware why you are doing that, if it is a part of a bigger program and again how you have to do the work (ex. during the first beach clean up we collected all kind of trash: plastic, metal, glass, etc.; only in the end we were told that we were supposed to pick up only plastic).
2. Knowledge: the program promised '' Intensive studies about sustainability, organic farming, the importance of self-sufficiency in impoverished communities, the risks/effects of Global Warming and Climate Change in the Caribbean, etc. Through research, creation and implementation of projects in nearby villages, promotion, and by example, students will work to prepare the people of the Caribbean for the dangers of Global Warming''. In order to accomplish successfully these goals a teacher (during the program you are considered a student attending a school) must have a depth understanding of the topics that he/she supposed to give lectures about. In reality, no one of the teachers have a background on environmental science or on other subjects related to Global Warming and Climate Change. In one month I attended: 2 lectures (1 h) about Permaculture (I read the same information in Wikipedia); 1 lecture ( 1 h) about food security and health (the information we received were poor and extremely confused); 1 lecture about renewable resources (we did a quiz-discussion about the different renewable resources), again information were poor and incorrect (ex. in general in a shallow geothermal system you don`t drill a borehole, this is not true); 1 workshop about Global Warming and Climate Change (again information were poor and confusing (ex. we were talking about water management and nobody, teacher included, was aware about the hydrological cycle) . Only 2 guest lectures were informative and interesting and both were hold by academic experts about biodiversity and soil erosion in St Vincent and Grenadines. Also, I was extremely surprised about how the school`s teachers express their completely refusal of an academic education and mistrust on the expertise opinion about environmental topics.
3. Safety: I felt that the area where the school is located is not safe: we experienced an episode of steal money and an attempted rape.
The basic hygiene standard are not present in the kitchen, where an incredible amount of flies and cockroaches were present.
Also, during the beach cleanup the safety of the participants was not considered: we had not enough gloves for everyone and no instructions were provided about how to manage the waste. In the beaches as well in the rivers you can find everything from plastic to glass, even rusty metal objects and common trash bags and we experienced an high numbers of children ready to help collecting these kind of waste exposing them to diseases.

No, I don't recommend this program
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Zachary
8/10

Harvesting from the Mango Trees - Living in a Sustainable Community

When I first arrived at Richmond Vale, one of my first tasks was to accompany another member of the group into the food forest. It was still early, and everything was still damp from dew. We found a single mango in one of the trees, a really big one and late in the season, so it was really lucky for us. This was my first experience living in a sustainable community, and though it was soon followed by many others at RVA, that first morning stayed with me throughout my time on St. Vincent.

How can this program be improved?
The Climate Compliance Conference is marketed as an educational experience, and to this end we attended classes on most mornings, with topics in various sustainability and climate change subjects. However, I found these classes to be somewhat topical, and not extensive enough to be truly beneficial for students who do not have an existing background in these topics. I would advise greater attention to detail and class setup for greater overall understanding of all parties.
Yes, I recommend this program

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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...