It took me an hour to finally put my hands on the keyboard to even consider beginning writing this since there are a plethora of amazing things I have to say about this wonderful place that I now call home. So instead I went for a walk around the campus and realized how truly lucky I am to be in this position. I arrived here from Hong Kong where many would say I lived an amazing life. I have been blessed with a great family support system, the finances to travel with, the ability to buy material objects in which I erroneously believed resulted in true happiness. However, something was lacking, something has always been lacking deep inside of me and it is only now that I can begin to understand what the true meaning of life (for me, at this point in time) truly is. There was this emotional void that needed to be nurtured and filled.
The amount of emotional growth and progress I have made in this short amount of time is unparalleled to anything I have encountered or experienced throughout the vast ocean that is the thirty years of my life as I knew it. The power of Richmond Vale Academy is so strong that I quickly began pondering my roots and innate values; I started asking myself questions like “what is happiness?” and “what does it truly mean to be rich?” The answers to these questions are rapidly becoming clearer to me, avoiding the fear of sounding overly cliché; I firmly believe that awareness is my first progressive step to being complete and loving who I am. Although this is a long process, the journey is what makes all this so unique and enjoyable to me. This is one of my main goals at this present moment; this is my current portrayal of living a life with a plethora of richness and happiness.
I am on the six month Climate Compliance Conference team and I came here with zero expectations. Thankfully, I arrived with an open heart and willingness to learn. I had prior Skype and Facebook conversations with a few ex RVA students, my team leader Francisco (whom I have learned to respect and love as a brother) and the wonderful Ms. Else who is in charge of recruitment to the program. The amount of warmth and positive energy I felt before even stepping foot on the fertile and nutrient filled St. Vincent soil had positively assured me of my life altering decision. I always knew I was basically jumping into ‘the deep end of the pool’ but I truly had no idea how amazing of an experience this would turn out to be. I am currently on my second month in the six month program and if I get the opportunity to experience even an inkling of what I’ve learned so far I will be truly blessed.
My team currently consists of 6 people and I, we have two Brazilians, three Colombians and a lovely girl from China. Our group meetings virtually look like a poster for world peace with Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin and English being spoken at great lengths in our group. This diverse cultural aspect is one of the main strengths here at RVA and I consider this giant ‘melting pot’ as an intricate cog to our forward thinking and growth in my learning. This natural think tank setup that we have is ever so present at group meetings where we debate about various topics in a healthy manner. I love that we have so many different perspectives on offer; I believe that this is a vital strength that will help us reach our goal of making St. Vincent climate compliant.
One of the great experiences I’ve had here at RVA so far was the La Soufriere volcano hike. Prior to engaging in this strenuous activity, I thought I was fairly fit and had the adequate training to reach the summit with ease. The Volcano is 4 000+ feet high (1 234 m) and wow was I not prepared for this. It was easily the hardest physical activity I’ve ever had to do. In perfect honesty, there were multiple times I was just going to quit, or make excuses, or even fake an injury. However I persevered and kept on going whilst repeating over and over in my head “Don’t worry TOSH you can do it! This too shall pass, you have the strength and willpower to achieve this” I literally sounded like a Nike commercial on repeat! My teammates gave me the strength and extra push to conquer this hike until it was literally mind over matter. This is an experience I will never forget and the feeling I attained when I reached the summit – Priceless!
I come from a very sheltered lifestyle in a glitzy cosmopolitan city named Hong Kong. It’s shameful to say but it is the honest to god truth, I never knew how to do the dishes, help out with gardening, do my laundry, make my bed or complete simple chores such as mopping or dusting. These simple little things were a giant hurdle for me in the beginning but I quickly learned (with the patience and help from my teammates) that I can accomplish anything I want to do if I start with the right attitude and willingness to do the best I can do. One great example of a life lesson that I have learned here at RVA would be something that I encountered when I was doing the dishes. I was being lethargic and lazy so I skipped cleaning a pan that I had previously used to make bread, I told myself that I would deal with it tomorrow and just dwelled on this simple issue for hours. In the end, I realized that cleaning the next day was such a hassle as the crumbs had dried and crystallized onto the pan. This may seem like such an insignificant occurrence but this taught me that in life its best to tackle your problems immediately instead of leaving it for later and procrastinating as it only piles up and is more difficult over time.
The daily life at RVA is no stroll-in-the-park as we wake up in time for breakfast by 7am and usually fall asleep by 11pm since we’re so knackered from the events of the day. I can personally assure you that this routine has helped me gain structure and meaning in my life, in which I sorely lacked prior to arriving at Richmond Vale Academy. The whole spiel about ‘you get out as much as you put in’ is real here and the reward at the end is mind-boggling. There aren’t any words that can really put this in perspective, with that being said, I strongly urge everyone to come experience this magical place that I now call home.
The one thing I’ve learned here is that life is filled with obstacles and challenges. I promise you, the skills you learn here will only help combat these hurdles that life throws your way. If you’re reading this then you are either already a student at RVA, an ex-student at RVA, or considering coming here. If it’s the latter, I would love to see you come and join our wholesome team at RVA.
Want to experience it for yourself?
Read about our programs here