Fight Poverty and Global Warming

Richmond Vale Academy

About

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 will take action for a more just and more sustainable world.

Richmond Vale Academy trains activists with collective abilities to fight poverty and improve the environment. In the programs at Richmond Vale Academy, we tackle life-important subject matters. That is why we are passionate about what we do. Half of the people on this Earth belong to the ranks of the poor, meaning that every day is a struggle to find water, food and shelter, get a job, send one's children to school and avoid preventable, yet often fatal, diseases.

The Academy currently runs two programs:
1. The Climate Activism Program (1 or 6 months internships)
2. Volunteer with communities in Belize and Ecuador (10 - months training and field work experience ).

Founded
2002
Headquarters

Chateaubelair
Richmond
St. Vincent & Grenadines

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!

Reviews

Default avatar
Katrine
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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

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

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

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
Default avatar
Yuka
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

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 :)

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Danail Tsvetanov Petrov

Job Title
Climate Compliance Teacher

Education - High School/Secondary special – Forestry and logging. Worked in a managerial role in a parquet company for 6 years. Been a volunteer in Africa for 6 months. Finishing the College for International Co-operation and Development, Winestead Hall, United Kingdom.

What is your favorite travel memory?

The six months in Zambia were amazing and unforgettable for me. There I worked as a volunteer. One of my best moments was when we managed to build a tricycle for a boy who lost his ability to walk 3 years ago. Kennedy again started to go to school, to go to the shop, in the neighborhood, to help his family and to be a normal part of the society. The smile which I saw in his face when he saw the bicycle will remain in my memory forever. The tears of the eyes of his father changed my life forever, and since then I realized that I'm obligated to continue working in development area.

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

My knowledge about Climate Change, poverty, social economical systems, organic farming and eco literacy increases every day since Im working for RVA. My position as a teacher has provided me with the knowledge to work in many different fields, with many different people. I became more flexible and humble.

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

When the students come back from serving period in Belize or Ecuador and the work in the projects of Humana People to People, they have many different stories. For me, personally the best is always the interaction with the local community - the organic gardens which they built together, the different activities as mobilizing people to clean the village from plastic, the different workshops, the classes for healthy food, tropical diseases, etc.

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

I personally am teacher of the Climate Compliance program which is a 6 months. I love this program because it has the perfect mixture of theory lessons which are followed by practical actions in our academy or in the community. Addressing the Climate Change as a global threat for the entire biota is essential and there for the more people who join the better.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are front runners in the education for Climate Change. But more than just studies we are giving practical examples of how to mitigate the carbon footprint. We are almost all year powered by a PV system, we harvest the rain water and use it for our domestic needs and for watering the garden.

We have biogas and biochar production. We produce organic vegetables and our animals are free range. Our students become Climate Change educators and whenever they go in the world they are able to speak about the issue. They are very well prepared to react in our changing world environment.

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

All the people who are working in the academy are passionate in changing the world or more correctly - to stop polluting our home planet. All of us have common goals and this makes our communication much easier. All of us - principal, promoters, teachers, workers, students - are taking the decision how to run the academy together and this makes our small community very united.

More Interviews