Richmond Vale Academy

Richmond Vale Academy


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 main programs:
1. The Climate Compliance Conference (1- 6-months internships)
2. Fighting Shoulder to Shoulder with the Poor (12 - months training and field work experience ).


Chateaubelair Post Office
St. Vincent & Grenadines



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.

How can this program be improved?
Prepare students better for the high standards that they should be representative of and establish better accountability so that no one can skate by on the hard work and achievements of others.
Yes, I recommend this program

If you want to learn about permaculture, self sufficiency and climate change then this program is for you. In one month I have learnt so much and gained so much experience from being at the school. This program has inspired me to do more in regards to spreading the word about climate change and teach others about the best permaculture practices. There are alot of tasks and activities based in and around the school so you can learn the basics before going out into the community. I especially enjoyed teaching kids in schools about 2 endangered tree species to the carribean and planting these trees with the kids. Overall this has been a fantastic experience not only in the school but in the community with the local people too.

How can this program be improved?
Reduce the fee slightly and make more time for volunteers to be in the community.
Yes, I recommend this program
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If somebody asks me about Saint Vincent, I always answer that I was in the place about witch, I had been dreaming for a long time (without even knowing that it exists). 3 months in “Vincy” flied in a blink of an eye. Living in a community, cooking and working together opened my eyes to so many things. I still see Saint Vincent, its wonderful nature, and people in my dreams…Thinking about time in the island, and the work we have done together with a team (making an organic garden at Chateau primary school from 0; being facilitators for youth exchange) warms my heart.

How can this program be improved?
There can be more opportunities to live and work together with local families.
But in general there is nothing I can suggest:)
Yes, I recommend this program

I was part of the Climate Compliance team #13. The reason why life brought me to one of the most beautiful places on earth was how I see it now, faith. My experience in Richmond Vale Academy was full of growth on a personal level. I had the opportunity to discover the best of myself, and it was partly because of the program. More than the numerous hikes, the amazing coral reefs, the stunning sunsets and magical black beaches, the encounter with the local culture was my favorite experience. Vincy people taught me to be happy above all. Their kindness and big hearts will be memories I will cherish all my life and that was a motivation to give my best during my time on the island.

As part of my program, I built together with some other fellow teammates a water reservoir for our organic garden. As responsible of a portion of the schools nutrition by co-running the 3 greenhouses and surrounding areas, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about Permaculture. Personally, this was one of the main reasons for me to enroll on the program, so I was very satisfied with the outcome of it, at the extent that after the island I pursued a Permaculture Design Course and I plan to make it as my way of living in the near future. Additionally to my learning outcomes, I participated on the establishment of a farmers market, initiative that friends from the previous team begun and I continued with the support of other teammates. This was a beautiful experience to bond with the local community, and I am grateful enough to call many of the people I knew there my friends.

I also had the opportunity to know a little bit of the country visiting a nearby island called Bequia. It was part of one of the research tasks of the program and the objective was to learn about eco-tourism.

Living in the school is a challenging experience. You learn how to live in community and to respect each others space, contributing to maintaining things running and working hard. I liked the fact that the learning outcomes are set by yourself. the school is a platform but you are responsible for your knowledge and your ambitions with the program. I think this helped me build character and determination.

Finally, it is a great opportunity to meet amazing people. I made real friends that I still see today despite the time and place difference. Being surrounded by people with similar goals in life show you that theres is so much to do in this world but the only option is doing it together.

As a recommendation to people wanting to follow the program, I would say ask all the questions you need to do before going. Think if what the program offers is really what you are looking for and once you make that decision fully commit to it, enjoy it and give your best. In conclusion, make your time there count.

How can this program be improved?
I would say it will be nice to have more participation of the local community in order to guarantee the endurance of the actions developed. A the end, all the efforts made are for them.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Participating in the fighting with the poor program, was one of the best decisions in my life. It's a program of getting to know new perspectives, learning about different important topics, getting to know yourself and all of this in very nice peaceful set up surrounded by people who all strive for one common thing, make the world a more equal, better place. The first six months in St. Vincent I learned so much about all kind of different topic: permaculture, organic gardening, history and most of all who the world actually works today. You get as much as you put in to yourself, it's really a open environment that pushes you to step out of your comfort zone to get to know the real you. Its based on another kind of learning, where the general divisions of teacher - student is build up totally different, in a equal way. My other six months in Ecuador is truly the most beautiful period of my life. It's not easy but like the program says, you really get to life shoulder to shoulder with the poor what means in every aspect. It demands a lot of yourself but you get so much more back. I had the opportunity to work in a little community in the south of Ecuador where i met beautiful people and got a lot of support of the local government. With every idea i came with they would try to help me as much as possible. I gave English classes, nutrition classes , built family gardens and community gardens and as individual project I developed together with the local government a community library.

Yes, I recommend this program


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