Location
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Length
26 weeks
Financial Support
Need-based funding, Payment plans

Program Details

Compensation
Non-Monetary Benefits
Timeframe
Year Round
Language
English
Weekly Hours
40
Age Min.
18
Qualifications
  • Willingness to work with a team of people from all over the world
  • Able and willing to get your hands dirty and implement projects with the Vincentians
  • Be willing to adapt to changing circumstanses
  • Be willing to develop an ability to find solutions where you see none

Pricing

Starting Price
3800
Price Details
The program fee is $3800 USD. This includes program, food, accommodation, and local transportation to the projects you work at. You live in a beautiful, remote location, 5 min from the sea, superb hiking areas and close to the volcano La Soufriere. Going to Kingstown is 8 XCD, 3 USD and a meal in town is 12 XCD, 5 USD.

The flight to St. Vincent is at your own expense, but we can assist you in finding the best and least expensive flights.
The 6 Months teams start February, August and November.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation Wifi
What's Included (Extra)

Local transportation to the projects you work with.
A wide range of evening programs from documentaries to drumming nights and moonlight walks.
An Open Water Dive Certificate.

What's Not Included
Airfare Airport Transfers Travel Insurance Visa
What's Not Included (Extra)

Personal pocketmoney.

Feb 12, 2024
Apr 19, 2024
75 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

This is a 6-month program that provides a total immersion in the many aspects of climate sustainability and change on community level, where most good solutions exist.
You will learn about a global framework for positive climate sustainability, and the many technical solutions whFollow us on https://www.instagram.com/richmondvaleacademy/?hl=en
Contact us for more information WhatsApp Else Marie +1.784.493.1672.

What kind of planet do we leave behind for our next generations?
What kind of generations do we leave behind for our planet?
Would you like to become an active part of finding solutions!!???

To begin to answer these big questions, The Richmond Vale Academy offers training programs that combine technical and cross-cultural training in the Caribbean with real-time project implementation experience. Participants will learn how communities can manage and adapt to the challenges of climate change, and how to play an active role in addressing these challenges.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

Non-Discrimination Policy

The policies of Richmond Vale Academy, prohibits any form of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression, age, marital status, national origin, mental or physical disability, political belief or affiliation, veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information, and any other class of individuals protected from discrimination under state law with respect to employment, volunteer participation and the provisions of services.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Non-Discrimination Policy

The policies of Richmond Vale Academy, prohibits any form of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression, age, marital status, national origin, mental or physical disability, political belief or affiliation, veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information, and any other class of individuals protected from discrimination under state law with respect to employment, volunteer participation and the provisions of services.

Impact

Sustainability

RVA integrates several levels of sustainability in its program: For its students, the curriculum is up to date and focused on the acquisition of technical and organizational skills which are directly applicable to future projects and careers. For its community partners, the technical resources and models are designed to be economical, feasible and scalable by the community itself after the RVA teams are no longer present. For the Environment, all technology and project models are designed to have minimal negative impact, be replicable and scalable with local resources, and fully sustainable by local players.

Ethical Impact

RVA Ethical Program Statement:

RVA works from an ethical foundation of social inclusion, participatory decision making and whole team accountability in its climate change efforts at the community level. Community members are engaged as equal team members in problem definition, project design and identification of resources and deployment of tasks.

Program Highlights

  • Learn about climate change, study, watch and discuss documentaries with your team
  • Learn to run projects bottom up by helping to mobilizing and teach people
  • Improve your social and practical skills
  • Live in a community of like-minded people from all over the world
  • Learn to grow organic vegetables in a tropical climate permaculture way

Program Dates

Application Deadline
Program Dates
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Program Reviews

4.52 Rating
based on 63 reviews
  • 5 rating 65.08%
  • 4 rating 30.16%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 1.59%
  • 1 rating 3.17%
  • Growth 4.4
  • Support 4.3
  • Fun 4.45
  • Housing 4.2
  • Safety 4.35
Showing 1 - 8 of 63 reviews
Default avatar
Ricardo
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Another kind of School!

Richmond Vale Academy stands out as a unique educational institution, with a distinctive type of educators. Working alongside the Academy was a truly defining moment in my life, merging theory with practice in a way that deepens understanding of the society we inhabit was profoundly impactful.

The teaching council, comprised of individuals from various nationalities, fostered a rich multicultural environment that emphasized the value of dialogue and active participation in shaping our collective existence.

The Academy's pedagogical approach closely aligns with the philosophy of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, aiming to cultivate individuals who are community-minded and prepared to transform reality by tackling social and environmental challenges.

The school's infrastructure is exceptionally well-equipped, providing a safe and engaging environment for those seeking an international experience. The participatory methodologies employed here involve everyone in a collaborative and egalitarian manner, truly embodying the essence of cohesive and affectionate education.

What was your funniest moment?
Without a doubt, the Building Weekends were the most delightful times we had at Richmond Vale Academy. It was during one of these weekends that the spirit of camaraderie truly shone through. All of us, workers, team members, volunteers, and the local community worked hand in hand to improve the school's facilities. One memorable instance was when we decided to paint the community hall. Imagine a group of well-intentioned volunteers, none of whom were professional painters, armed with buckets of paint and brushes. The plan was to paint the walls, but soon enough, there were more giggles than brushstrokes.
Midway through, someone accidentally tipped a bucket, and a splash of vibrant color painted not just the floor but also our volunteer coordinator's shoes. The look of surprise was comical, and before we knew it, laughter erupted. Instead of frustration, our coordinator struck a pose, claiming a new fashion trend had just been born: 'paint-splashed chic. The laughter was contagious, the work went on, and by the end of the day, not only did we have a freshly painted hall, but also a story that would be retold with chuckles for weeks to come. It was a lesson in planning, mobilization, and collective effort but also in the joy of unexpected moments and the warmth of shared laughter.

These shared experiences, full of joy and unity, exemplify the vibrant community spirit at Richmond Vale Academy.
Pros
  • Develop the capacity to work in group.
  • Develop skills of planning and communication;
  • Healthy way of life!
Cons
  • Difficult to communicate in the first months (English skills)
  • Difficult to share life in the first weeks.
Default avatar
Malo
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The best 6 months of my life

When I started my Program in Canada on November 2021 I was in a really bad spot mentally. I just had broken up with my girlfriend of over two years. But this program gave me the chance to reinvent myself. I could be anyone because no one knew the old me, so I had this amazing opportunity to basically start over. And I did. Inspired from my teammates and my teacher I decided that I wanted to come back to Germany with the attitude to be the happiest person in the room. This was not a decision I made over night. It rather was something I started to want over time. Because it was thanks to my teacher and my amazing friends in the program I was forced to self reflect on the person I was so far and the life I had back in Germany. I never realized before that how good I had it. These 6 months were by far my most favorite 6 months of my life. I learned so much about me, about my life, people from different countries with different cultural backgrounds. I have changed and grown so much thanks to this opportunity and I have changed for the better.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The single most impressive thing I noticed was how happy the people of St. Vincent were. They really inspired me how to be more happy with little. There are no words good enough to give a just description of it. You just have to see it with your own eyes.
Pros
  • Amazing time
  • Self growth is insanely huge
  • Finding friends for life
Cons
  • Dangerous sun (take a lot of suncreme)
  • Rations of food
  • Organisation
Default avatar
Muharrem
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

a place which made me who I am today

First of all, Richmond Vale Academy in Saint Vincent and Grenadines offers you a unique experience that everyone must be a part of for some period of time in their lifetime. It also offers a great learning opportunity that combines education, community engagement, and environmental sustainability. The warm hearted staff both from local communities and different countries are very supportive, welcoming, knowledgeable and very friendly. I have learned a lot and had long lasting friendships all around the world along the way. I genuinely and highly recommend everyone who are looking for an impactful and engaging learning experience.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Saint Vincent and the grenadines will of course let you taste so many different flavors of fruits and vegetables but there is one I really found interesting. The name of that fruit was “breadfruit”. I have never seen such big fruit growing on a tree with a bread like texture inside and green outside. It is super delicious when you fry or roast it. A must try fruit is awaiting for you!!
Pros
  • Making you have broader perspective on different cultures.
  • Learning about the importance of being sustainable in environmental change.
  • Having fun while learning.
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Danail
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Changing the world is our promise

I was a teacher in the 6-month climate compliance program for almost 5 years.
During these years, I learned a lot, really a lot of things that changed my life and my perception of the world. Living in a community, accepting and embracing those around me, compassion, critical thinking and working hard for a better future are just some of the skills I developed during my time at RVA.
Here I met people from all over the world - people who want to do something useful for our planet and the life on it. I was constantly inspired, challenged and provoked by the members of the RVA community to become a better and stronger person.
The work with the local people and the improvement of their conditions is a strong and everlasting motivation for me to continue doing development work.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The most important thing is to be open. To open your heart to the needs and the struggles of others. Focus on your inner growth and the community's flourishing. Challenge the negative thoughts and be the person who is uniting instead of dividing.
Pros
  • Community living
  • Developing critical thinking towards mainstream media
  • Overwhelming beauty of the nature around
Cons
  • It's not for everyone - some people are just not ready to be positive part of a collective
5 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
emilia
1/5
No, I don't recommend this program

very dissapointed of the 6 month climate compliance programme

I did my voluntary service here in 2023, and very mixed feelings. I would have liked a comment like this in advance, because the alumni contacts you get didn't mention any of this. First of all, it is good to know how this school is structured: all teachers are in a suspicious association called Teacher Group or Tvind. (it's worth doing a Google search) The group is like a cult, and joining is a condition for becoming a teacher here.
Even if you don't notice much of the structures of the TeachersGroup apart from the "another kind of school" principle, the staff is conspicuously unprofessional. Nearly no teacher has much expertise, both in terms of content and pedagogy. The program is therefore weak in teaching and relies on an online learning platform with faulty and old files. Instead of being about the content, the focus of conferences and the typical day is not the actual project presented (on instagram very romantized) but the community life:

In concrete terms, for the individual this means daily cleaning for the community, e.g. 45 minutes of dishwashing in the morning. Once a week you are assigned to a meal, or as a kitchen helper (you spend up to 2.5 hours in the kitchen for dinner duty or as a kitchen helper from 8:15 a.m. to 12 p.m). Every Wednesday you serve only physically intensive work to maintain the Academy, every 4th weekend a "Buildingweekend", where you also spend the entire weekend helping to maintain the Academy. This also includes very disgusting tasks, such as cleaning a freezer with frozen blood, emptying a compost with maggots inside or very exhausting things like digging out a big 6 ft deep hole to create a water well. The 2nd month is also only used to further expand the Academy campus. It's actually cool that there are no cleaning/maintenance employees except for the cooks in order not to create a hierarchy, but where is the limit to the exploitation of volunteers?

All of this voluntary maintaining and cleaning is adressed before, but talked down. New tasks always came up. Would have been no problem for me, If there was a spirit of apreciation for volunteers.

The rule concept is also questionable, as the rule against alcohol gets much more attention than the no discrimination policy, for example.
The staff drank and smoke themselves, sometimes with the students, who are then punished for it. Body shaming and sexism are common. Working was always closely connected to the girls being expected to can't work as hatd as the boys/ not being as skilled. Complete mysogony and sexism.
Instead of employees being rethought, people who criticize grievances are literally kicked out.

What has kept me here are the people from the different teams and the wonderful country. For me the better part began after 2 months, because you actually lived with the community and not in this commune bubble.
Even though you are isolated in the first 2 months and don't see much of the island on campus, it's great to have met so many warm international and local people

however, I wouldn't recommend coming here to any of my friends, for example. The importance of the gardening is questionable, only a third of the program is really about it. The program gives you the feeling that the individual is unimportant here, less important than the participation fee. We had a course on the economy in the third month and I questioned one thing about the numbers and the headmaster was already confused about her own numbers (that don't add up)
In my time here, some people have dropped out very unexpectedly, many have left voluntarily. We were a team of 20 people and after three months 11 were remaining. They didn't get money back enough that it would be all spent but only a share, for us it felt like people leaving actually profits them.

For me it's hard to believe, that the organisation is really non profit!!

Coming to the actual volunteering period starting in the second month:

1. there was one projectleader who is ultimately unskilled in communication and being on time as he says himself. He is likely to call you weak. The working hours were changed towards the end to the month from until 12 to until 4pm without including us in planning.

Remember: You paid alot of money to join the programme, whereas the rent for the school to pay is free for the campus, and the budget for the food is set for 5ec (about 1.6€) per meal eventhough its not that cheap to eat here.
That also explains the "quality food" we had( One time I wanted to make a salad I got badly critizised) There is no students kitchen, so you depend on the three meals a day (remember its super rural, the next supermarket is 40 min walk away)

Its ironic to do presentations about healthy eating at the schools around and at the same time have to eat plain rice and lentils because your budget ran out.

2. the concepts around the gardens that are build doesn't make sense:
the preperation period in advance is not preparing you in building those gardens. The concept of being "activists" that teach the farmers doesn't work out if you just learn about the tools/ materials/ methods in the moment you arrive in the garden.
all our work was about was building bamboo constructions, which is monotonous and at the same time not very sustainable. We don't build complete gardens, mostly the bed frames, whereas you have to know, that bamboo decomposes in a few months and the garden owner is expected themselves to replace it.(Something that is never taught to them. Also we build the gardens without the support of their owners, therefore it is not sustainable at all)

In the 2 months of the building time, we build 2 gardens. Later on we found out, that both of them were build without purpose. One garden didn't have a permission to be built and the other home garden owner is about to extend her house on the area we build her garden.
I feel like I wasted my time and energy in this place.

This place is run by unrealistic, idealistic principles that make sense in theory and are sold good. The reality looks completely different, there is no sense in professionality in any area. Both of the teacher we had as being the main responsibles for us left. Others were in holidays, headmaster changes randomly, everything is unpredictable and there is way too much drama in all areas. Apparently at some poing there were some skilled local teachers who were really passionate and knowledgeable about permaculture. All of them got kicked out/ left voluntarily.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be aware if you want commune living, it makes your wirk largely depend on the professionality of others. My main intention coming here was to have a positive impact after completing my school, which is a typical thing for people in my age. I would feel awful if people I know go to the RVA: its not a safe place for young woman. The powerplay amongst the male teachers towards young female students is enormous. There is so much gossip, drama, teacher-student relationships. Again: This place would be the right one with motivated and skilled students and teachers to actually have an impact, but this rather reminded me of love island.
Pros
  • much freedom what you want to plan as actions
  • strong bond to some people because you cope so much problems together
Cons
  • to much created social stress
  • often no water or electricity
  • buildings are an old juvenile detention center and looks like that
9 people found this review helpful.
Response from Richmond Vale Academy

It is unfortunate that you came away from your experience at Richmond Vale Academy with such a long list of complaints. Since you have chosen to share your frustrations in this way, we would like to offer some context and reflection:

Several of your comments are about the amount of work done collectively by students as a part of running the school. We are very open about our commitment to the collective life at the school during the application process. It is an essential part of our training philosophy, as well as a core part of how we keep the program costs affordable and accessible to participants. Some of your frustrations relate to normal life in a tropical environment with real-time energy and challenges. Successful students enjoy meeting the challenges and learning from them, as part of learning about sustainable living.

You have many complaints about the quality of food, equipment, and living conditions. We encourage you to read and learn from the many testimonials and resources on our website before applying to our program. As you know, most students reflect their satisfaction through their reviews and testimonies, and embrace the new experiences while understanding that real time island life will have real time challenges.

The families didn’t work with you to make the gardens. We strive towards getting the families involved, but even with good intentions they don’t always have the surplus time. The adults in the family are often working to get money to survive and any other family members like grandparents are taking care of the children. We strive to select households who show their commitment to ownership of their garden plots, but recognize that many factors contribute to the success of this participatory approach.

“All the practical chores in the program”: this is described fully before you enroll in the program, we emphasize that our programs are 24/7. You might be happy to know that we have made a “Book of Practicalities” where we clarify and respond to questions about campus life. Every participant reads and goes through this before enrolling. While you were with us, we presented a weekly schedule with the opportunity for any questions to be answered. We are sorry that your understanding of this approach met with disappointment.

“A spirit of appreciation for volunteers”. We run a school with a structure and framework with clear team assignments and tasks. We live in this community by choice – we all put in efforts in making the school run and don’t expect special recognition for daily efforts. The school is for its participants, who take ownership in the satisfaction of making it work well as a community.

“Working was always closely connected to the girls being expected to not work as hard as the boys”.
St. Vincent men will tend to do the hard work because this is how they were brought up by their parents. This is another part of cultural learning, and can best be addressed by proving to them that you can do as much or more than they expect! Gender equality is a core value at RVA, and the interaction of cultures an essential part of learning. It is an open cultural exchange, just like real life.

“People didn't get money back”: We have a reimbursement policy that is in the enrollment contract and that everyone acknowledges and signs before starting. Accepting the rules and customs that are integrated into the application process are an important part of this. Our rules about substance abuse are in place to ensure the quality of our program and the safety of our participants. You know well that some of the participants who left the program early were given multiple warnings, and refused to follow these rules. The program participant cost occurs independently of your productivity or enjoyment of your experience. We are always open to feedback, and to answering questions before and after the application process, and during the program experience.

Program Fees: You make many comments about the program fee, and imply that the school is run to generate profits. This is very far from reality. The core cost of RVA is supported by generous donations from international organizations, and the participant costs are very closely tied to the actual cost of hosting an individual in the program. You are welcome to compare the participant cost of our program to other similar programs, and will find us to be very reasonable.

Home Garden Disappointment: You are disappointed that 2 of the home gardens had to be redone. This sometimes happens in a real world setting with volunteer and community driven projects. Community participants are selected based on their responses and commitments to their own projects, and unfortunately are not always successful or fully forthcoming about their level of commitment. We work very hard to find the right families for the home gardens. The garden program is accountable to a grant that we manage with a budget for each garden, so a failure affects the program.

Default avatar
Paul
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing time at RVa

I started the program in February 2022, one year after the volcano erupted. So I was in one of the first teams to not only run a program, but also help recovering the Academy from still visible damage. Right from the beginning I felt very welcome, and during my time I got to meet so many nice people from all over the world. Everybody was very motivated to give their best in order to work, learn, teach and also have plenty of fun.
The program made me grow as a person, helped me to deal difficulties situations of any kind. Even though we had quite some troubles due to different reasons, I would still recommend the program to everybody who likes to go on an adventure, wanting to make a change, meet new people and who is open to new ideas.

What would you improve about this program?
For me, the one month studying time was to long. As a new volunteer, you want to do something as soon as possible and long studying days often felt to much. It would be better to give people literature, documentaries or books before the programm, so the theoretical studying time at RVA can be reduced.
Pros
  • Beautiful island with plenty things to explore
  • Making a lot of friends
  • Big personal growth
Cons
  • My Programm was very different from what I was told
  • Grant money for my programm didn’t arrive soon enough, so we couldn’t do as much as planned
  • Sometimes I felt more like a student than as an activist
7 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Kadron
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience

In my experience at RVA I went through a lot of personal changes. My experience made me learn a lot of patience and it also taught me a lot about leadership skills. I also feel much more welcome in places with people from other countries. The staff at RVA are very cool and they also made me change my mindset - I did not want to be a teacher, but now I do!
Part of our team, 6 people, went out into the community of Bagga, where we had to build home gardens in both Layou and Bagga. We were divided into threes and I was placed into the Layou group. We all worked together to start one garden in Bagga so that everyone knew what to do, then my group of 3 started our garden in Layou (where we was assigned). We competed 3 gardens in Layou and four in Bagga.

What was your funniest moment?
The funniest moment is when when went to go hike the volcano and we went up to the wrong trail .
Pros
  • Make good friend
  • Learn leadership skills
5 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Nils
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

6-month climate activist program

After a 2-month period of learning at the Richmond Vale Academy, me and my team moved into a small village. We gave workshops in schools about climate change as well as built home gardens with the locals. From talking with the locals to gathering bamboo in the jungle. From designing worksheets for 4th year students to fencing a banana field. From organizing a summer camp for teenagers to figuring out why the toilet doesn't flush anymore. You really do everything, growing every single day... With every day there was a new challenge awaiting. The program is certainly not for everyone but if you are looking for a challenge and want to get into something completely new then the 6-month climate activist program is for you.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
To build the home gardens, we needed to gather bamboo for the frames. We went deep into the jungle. The terrain was steep and we needed to log the bamboo stems with a machete. It was super tricky to keep the balance. But together with my team we cut bamboo after bamboo. We just needed to lookout for each other.
Pros
  • Focus on self-growth
  • You turn local
  • The Nature and Weather
7 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers