Staff Spotlight: Selwyn (Selly) Patterson

Teacher and Field Mentor


What is your favorite travel memory?

I went to Venezuela in 2010 to represent St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a cultural exchange. We stayed two weeks and I learned a lot about Venezuelan culture and met some very nice people. They were very interested to learn more about St. Vincent and we played music together.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I am a Vincentian so I am very proud of what we are doing to improve St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I have developed into a public speaker and I have learned to lead teams in action.

I have also expanded my organization “Rose Hall Cultural and Development Organization” into doing much more community work, which we have implemented with the teams at RVA.

I am a drummer and have held numerous drumming sessions to educate about climate change. I have also had the chance to travel several times with other staff to Europe, and this has expanded my knowledge about the world.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

A student returning from Belize told me that she had gained a better understanding of what poverty is and what it does to people.

She worked to help build vegetable gardens, and noticed that poverty was not just about money, which she always thought, but that it is more of a mindset. She learned that the most important thing is to empower people to take control of their own lives.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would like to do the FWP program in Ecuador. I believe I have a lot to offer to the communities from my experiences in St. Vincent. Even though I don’t speak Spanish I think I could learn and also use body language and possibly even Creole, which we speak here in SVG. In the end, the heart speaks stronger than words.

What makes your company unique?

The challenging programs and the community living. The programs give participants space to develop by learning and by doing – it is training where you can make mistakes, try new things, and not have to worry because you have the support of the team.

Community living can be challenging, but we all help and support each other equally.

I think the no drugs no alcohol policy is a very important part of making this work – it is a good example for Vincentian youth especially to see people from all over the world having a lot of fun without being intoxicated.

When were you especially proud of your team?

I was very proud when St. Vincent and the Grenadines won the Gold Medal for the TreeLympic competition, which I was a very active part of.

We went to 100 schools all over the islands, registered them, planted trees, and held lessons. It was a very happy moment for me, especially when we went to the schools to give out awards.

You could win in 3 categories: most trees planted, most schools involved, and most active country – which we won!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Being able to get things done – ensuring that our promises to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to participants in our programs are implemented.

There is a lot of public outreach and action, which sometimes puts participants in situations that are uncomfortable and challenging. It is important to provide space for both individuals and teams to develop separately.

We do as much as we can to inform the local community about our efforts - we hold artist exhibitions, radio and television talks, and have printed thousands of newspapers to help to get our message out.

Working and empowering the Vincentian population is very important because we live here and want to make the country ready for climate change. Everything we do at RVA is implemented in the communities.