Alumni Spotlight: Camille Bru

Camille Bru was born and raised on a farm in the south of France. After studying Biology and working as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry for about 8 years, she decided to follow her dream and go on an adventure. She writes:

“I’m a big nature lover; walking in nature through forests has a soothing effect on my soul... Traveling makes my world go ’round and that’s why I’ve decided to take on my life’s dream and go traveling, no strings attached, for the coming year(s).”

Why did you choose this program?

I had been thinking about doing something different for a while. That’s why considered a career change, in accordance with my personality and my values. I am very aware and touched by the issues of global warming, consumerism, environmental protection, agriculture, and so on. These issues lead me to question my role in society. Am I there to consume and profit at the expense of all the people who have not had the luck to be born on the right continent? I want 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 chose to join the Climate Change program at RVA.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I went directly through the recruitment process of RVA; they assisted me through all the selection process and helped me with all the practicalities.

I filled in many questionnaires to make sure that I was ready for the type of projects they propose and to make sure that I was going to fit within the organisation. I arranged my own transport, but if I needed any help, I would always find help!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Don't hesitate!!! This is a life changing program! As a lot of people realize, while you are there, it might not be perfect; life in a community is difficult and you have to adapt to different ways of thinking, ways of cleaning, ways of living...

The food is quite healthy and not at all the same as what you are used to. Many of the things are imported and you can not find all the delicious (processed) things you are used to at home! Just saying that you need to be open to a different lifestyle and come with your positivity! Nothing is perfect.

Anywhere! Just try to remember that and enjoy every minute of living in this paradise!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day can vary, but the structure remains:

You can wake up as early as you want to do yoga, go for a swim, a stroll in the fruit forest... Breakfast is at 7:00, EVERYDAY! Then, from 7:45 till 8:30, you'll clean a designated area (bathroom, kitchen, corridor, hall...).

At 8:45 your program starts; it can involve studies, community work, garden or cooking actions in the school, lectures... At 12:00, lunch is served, then your program continues from 13:00 to about 16:30, depending on the activities.

In the evening, dinner is served at 18:00, and later you will watch a documentary, or the news, a movie or play games, enjoy the community life!

Your Sundays are free to discover the beautiful nature around!!!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Leaving my professional life, changing life, moving to a new unknown place, alone, not knowing exactly what I was going to do, feeling a bit overwhelmed... I was afraid that I would not know what to do or how to do it.

I had never worked as a volunteer and I really didn't know what to expect. In the end, we all know a lot more things than we think! There are many skills that we don't realize we have! Don't doubt your skills, if you are willing to give your heart and soul to a project, you will for sure do a great job!!! Don't worry!!!!

What is your best memory from your project?

I have many amazing memories from this program, but the most touching and heartwarming memories were participating in the creation and building of home gardens for people in the villages around RVA. This is a very humbling experience.

You often need to work with people that have more experience than you do (especially in SVG where most people have farm a lot), and accept that they know more, and at the same time gain their trust to teach them different techniques (especially permaculture) that they are not used to, and make a change in their lives. The fact that they are now able to produce some of the veggies they need for their daily cooking fills me with joy!

I loved sharing this experience :)