Stina Herberg, the present principal of Richmond Vale Academy is a force to be reckoned with. At age 20 she started a series of world travels that would take her to over 50 countries in the following years, finally leading her to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as part of the RVA staff, in attempts to make of the island a climate compliant nation. Stina has worked in projects that directly tackle poverty, sustainable development and climate change, in countries as different from each other as Mozambique and the United States. We have unearthened a one-on-one with Stina that the Caribbean News Service published a couple of years back but is still relevant today.
Here we have a person who is passionate about creating a more equal, healthier and better world not only for humans, but for all creatures that wander this Earth. Stina has an incredibly vast pool of knowledge that she has gathered during her trips and volunteer work, and shares a snippet of it in the article that you’ll find below, check it out!:
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Oct. 06, 2014 – Stina Herberg is the present principal at the Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) in St. Vincent. She was born in Norway and from the age of 20 she embarked on extensive world travels, touching more than 50 countries and has gained invaluable knowledge in areas such as poverty, sustainable development and environmental issues. She has undertaken development and environment work in several countries including Angola, Mozambique, Denmark and USA. Currently she heads a small group of personnel populations from around St. Vincent and the Grenadines to make the islands more climate compliant.
1. What do you love most about the Caribbean? Everything! I love the nature, which is robust with the incredibly beautiful rainforests and beaches and home to so many species of birds and insects. I also love the warm people, who are always kind, friendly, and inviting.
2. What brings you the greatest joy? The 2012 – 2021 Climate Compliance Conference was created as a way to bring St. Vincent to a point where climate change does not impact the country in a drastic way. We have local and international students join us in our efforts to educate the population on climate change and how it affects us; and participate in all of the actions we take in order to reduce its effect. My greatest joy comes from seeing students change and grow after having studied at the academy.
3. What is the best advice you’ve been given? ‘Follow your heart’ and ‘Don’t accept injustice’.
4. What is on your bookshelf? This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. Seeds of Suicide by Vandana Shiva.
5. What charity do you support? Richmond Vale Academy; and the Inivershall Rastafari Movement.
6. What is on your bucket list? I would really like to save the planet from global warming and climate change and transform the world from one of inequality to one where we can eliminate the words impoverished and malnourished. In the meantime, it would satisfy me to make St. Vincent and the Grenadines climate compliant. I would also like to complete the Caribe trail.
7. What is on your perennial to-do list? I would like to visit Dominica, the nature island. I would like to have a face-to-face conversation with St. Lucia’s Minister for Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Sen. Hon. Dr. James Fletcher to hear more of his dynamic ideas and actions on climate change and how to implement programmes at the political level to get countries climate compliant. It would be a dream come true to have Richmond Vale Academy become a model school within the Caribbean, accepting students from all over the world, but particularly educating Caribbean peoples of each island in organic farming, water harvesting, renewable energy, and all sustainable practices for both their personal life and the greater good of society.
9. Who are your Caribbean heroes? Empress Modupe Olfunmi Jacob who heads the Inivershall Rastafari Movement and works tirelessly side by side some of the most disadvantaged people in St. Vincent; Luke, who is our permaculture teacher. He has really opened our eyes to what sustainable agriculture is all about, why it is important, and how to implement it here at the academy; Alex Crichton and the team who made the Happy SVG video which inspired people all around the world.
10. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party? My ideal dinner party guest list would include former and current RVA students and teachers, the late Maurice Bishop, who if you do not know you should look up, Naomi Klein, all of the staff at Richmond Vale Academy, my partner, Jesper Friis, Gunter Pauli, and various farmers from around SVG. At the dinner we would serve organic, locally produced meats, dairy, fruit and vegetables.
11. What quote do you live by? “It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela
12. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? How I came to appreciate what I have and where I come from. I was working in Mozambique, a country in Africa, teaching 60 women in the Maputo slums, at ADPP Literacy Center, to read and write every day. Mozambique was at war and at the time statistically considered one of the poorest countries in the world. After class one day, one of my students came up to me and told me she had a problem. Everyone has problems, so I listened as she told me that she had to sell the roof off of her already meager house to pay for her child’s funeral and rainy season was approaching. Coming from Norway, which was the richest country at the time, I realised the difference between what people constituted as problems and I decided at that time what kind of problems I wanted to deal with and where I wanted to put my focus. From that point on I could never look at people who did not have and do nothing about it. I also started to study deeper to understand the connection between why someone was rich while others stayed poor.
13. What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger? I wish I knew that I was being educated in the wrong things, the things that are not important and that do not promote a healthy or sustainable life or world. I wish I understood James Lovelock’s GAIA theory, the idea and reality that we are all connected and that what one person, community or nation does impacts the entire world, and not just the people in it, but all species: plants, animals, coral and marine life; everything. I wish I knew that society was teaching me to live a life that’s destructive to the planet so I could have changed earlier and perhaps have made more of a contribution for change.
14. What would you want to say to the Caribbean about any one of these: Agriculture, Arts & Culture, Climate Change, HIV/AIDS, Tourism? Climate Change is serious! It is not a myth. It is real, it affects everybody and we must all get involved. Get involved!
15. Any final words? Join us! Come see us: dive and kayak with us through our diving center, hike with us through our hiking center, plant with us, work with us, volunteer with us, change the world with us. Come to Richmond Vale Academy, our doors are open! This is our website www.richmondvale.org and add me on Facebook StinaHerberg and let’s talk!
If you are passionate about a cause but still don’t know how to participate or whether you should engage at all, check our post on the benefits of volunteering, it may be for you!