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


St. Vincent & Grenadines


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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an amazing and beautiful place. It is a paradise, full of good vibes, good energy and wonderful people that I hope to see again someday. I lived there for 6 months, I was part of the Climate Compliance program of november 2017. With my team we were able to build 10 organic home gardens for women-headed households in order to guarantee food security and sovereignty in a sustainable way, at the same time we took action on a small scale against Climate Change. I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to go there and to have challenged myself, before I could not imagine the kind of experience that it would be but in the end I grew a lot in Saint Vincent. I was able to learn many things, not only about permaculture but about me, how to live in community, to improve a language and to learn about different cultures. This experience gives me inspiration and motivation and also a new direction of what I really want to do next.

Yes, I recommend this program
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During the month I was at RVA, I came across amazing people and experienced a number of opportunities that contributed to my growth.
To witness first hand, the self-sustainable system that was put in place at the academy was eye-opening. Learning to work as a team and understanding the importance of contributing to the community, was one of the many benefits of participating in this program.
My team and I were eager to focus on projects that dealt with the locals directly. So, we spent time at local schools teaching children about 2 endangered tree species. We also planted the trees around the island, at school, public gardens and at the academy. By the end of the month, we planted 50 trees in total. It was very rewarding.
We also helped our team leader with his graduation project, a fruit forest at the academy. This project helped me envision the possibilities we have as humans to contribute to nature and live off of it at the same time.
I also appreciated the effort made by the staff to feed us local, whole foods the entire time we were there.
Overall, I'm grateful to have been apart of a program that provided me with an opportunity to give back.

Yes, I recommend this program
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I was part of the 2018 November team and I wish I could do it all over again!
The island is absolutely stunning- very mountainous with narrow winding roads, thick jungle and black sand beaches. There's a rainbow everyday and a sunset every night
The local people are very friendly and getting to know them was the highlight of the trip. RVA is on the north leeward side of the island, right near the end of the highway and at the foot of the volcano (I definitely recommend climbing it but bring lots of water!).
There is a football pitch and volleyball net with games every week and is right next to a secluded beach with a reef that is perfect for snorkeling (just be careful when it has been raining a lot because the currents get a lot stronger!). There are also a lot of opportunities to go scuba diving!
It is a 45 minute walk from the village- or 5 minute truck ride, where there's a restaurant that does great karaoke, a calmer beach and Banas' amazing food :) This is also where most of the home gardens are, so you will get to spend quite a bit of time there!
Over the course of the one month programme there will be three major projects: a school based project (we designed and built a humanure toilet for the gardens), a community based project (we investigated the home gardens to see how to improve them in the future) and a permaculture project in the schools gardens. You also get to attend morning classes with all sorts of interesting topics, and tours around the island with the wonderful Selly, join all sorts of clubs, help with the upkeep of the school and learn skills like traditional drumming and bowl making.
RVA is full of funny, interesting, friendly and compassionate people, all uniting around the same cause, you will have some amazing opportunities there. Vincy is the most beautiful place on earth and you will adore every second of your time there.
One mistake I made was flying straight back home- take the time after the project to explore the rest of the Grenadines if you can!
Blessed Love <3 :)

Yes, I recommend this program
Playing with puppies and kittens in SVG

I completed the FWP 18 month program in 2018. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life so far. I learned a lot of practical skills along the way but I really learned about myself and the way in which I wanted to live. Living with other people in a community setting can be tough and it is important to be self motivated, because this program is really what you make it. You meet some of the most amazing and creative people as well as those that push your buttons! I can't promise that you will love every minute because it is by no means easy, but it is really worth giving it a go! You have the added advantage of living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, there is no where quite like Saint Vincent!

What would you improve about this program?
Make sure people know they have to be self driven to make the most of being here.
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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


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Staff Interviews

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

Danail Tsvetanov Petrov

Job Title
Climate Compliance Teacher
Danail Tsvetanov Petrov

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.

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