I recently completed the 18 month program at Richmond Vale Academy and I recommend it highly with certain caveats. To begin it is important to know that RVA is not a school in any sense that you may be acquainted with, although there are certain classes involved for the most part what they offer is a framework within which you can learn. This means that the learning that takes place is for the most part of YOUR OWN INITIATIVE. I have seen a student spend a year and a half in the project and never learn how to plant a seed or make a compost so if you need someone looking over your shoulder or holding your hand then this is not the place for you. I would also point out that you will encounter any number of problems and setbacks be they simply the difficulties of living in the developing world or interpersonal issues with the people that you work with and if you are just there to find out what you want to do with your life you will most likely end up as a burden to those who are there to make a difference and not have what it takes to overcome the difficulties that you will inevitably face as an activist. That being said I would advise examining your reasons for participating very well before joining the 18 month program. There are other options that are less intense and better suited for those who are still "figuring things out". I would also like to point out that all development instructors are also ambassadors in a sense and need to be good examples of strong moral and ethical values and failing this will make it harder for everyone that has to follow in your footsteps and rebuild relationships with the people you have interacted with. Many students do not complete this course so making the decision to finish what you started and sticking with that is important.
Caveats aside I will restate that I highly recommend this program, I made the best of my time and learned about as much as could be learned from the experiences that I had. I have fallen in love with St Vincent and Ecuador where I worked as a development instructor and will be returning to Ecuador to teach agroforestry and permaculture and I intend to return to St Vincent periodically to see my friends on the mountain. By the time I left RVA I had been in charge of the fruit forest, ran the garden, started a fitness club, built biosand filters for a remote village in Ecuador, built a model garden in the school where I taught English, translated an Korean natural farming manual into Spanish for the staff of Humana, became a godfather, left behind a vermicompost, started a zero till patch of corn which evolved into the staple production area that is currently being designed, operated the bio-gas plant, did some amazing dirt biking in the Andes to reach remote farmers, made friends that I will keep for life and so, so much more. From my experience and from what I know of the experiences of many other students I can tell you that this program will defy your expectations. Go with no expectations for anything or anyone but yourself and you will succeed. My experience was one of growth and happiness, whether yours will be the same is up to you.