Preparing for Richmond Vale Academy

by Sara Averbeck

“The November Climate Compliance Team taking a different kind of path together”

The application had been submitted, the preliminary tasks toward enrollment had begun. Once I felt sure enough about my decision to attend Richmond Vale Academy (RVA). I started to tell my friends and family about it. In one form or another they all had the same response: “This experience will change you”.

I’ve only been at the academy for two weeks but I already have no doubt that they were right. What I never expected, however, was how much RVA would change me even before my arrival at the school.

Post college graduation I spent two years feeling at a complete loss as to what to do next. A career track didn’t feel like the right path but slinging pizzas and pouring beers wasn’t exactly fulfilling. A friend of mine had recently returned from a solo journey across Europe.

I found her photography and her stories to be beautiful and inspiring. More than anything else, I am inspire by her bravery. To go far away to strange places and immerse herself in strange cultures entirely on her own seemed to me unthinkable. I had never traveled outside of the U.S before. For me, adventure had always been experienced well enough close to home.

But, something inside me started to awaken. A tiny, undeveloped belief in myself. A belief in my ability to do things and to go places that would make me uncomfortable, that would challenge and terrify me, and would ultimately fill me with gratitude and a greater understanding of the world outside of the secure bubble I’d been living in.

This glimmer of confidence was enough to get the ball rolling. While completing the study tasks required for enrollment at RVA I learned a lot about the school, climate change, and why I wanted to be a part of all of it.

Once the study tasks were finished and the $500 non-refundable enrollment fee was paid it was official. I was going to Saint Vincent for 6 months! And I had a lot of work to do and a lot of money to save over the next several months.

I expected preparing for the trip to be very challenging, especially the saving money part (I’ve never excelled at frugality).

Setting a goal and having something to work towards and feel excited about it was highly motivating. I saved money much more easily than I thought possible. Simply by working as much as I could and by sacrificing some luxuries I had gotten used to; like regularly going out to eat and attending concerts.

This is how RVA changed me before I got here. It force me to be more fiscally responsible. But more importantly, it helped me to become more forward thinking. Sometimes you have to sacrifice small comforts and luxuries right now to improve life (for yourself and for others) down the road.

Another major lesson that I started to learn in preparing for my travels was how to realize my fears so as not to allow them to control me. I have faced many moments (or hours, or days) of doubt and anxiety in the last several months, most especially as my departure date rapidly approached.

Despite all of the hard work and the time that I had spent getting ready for this trip. I still had points where I was ready to drop everything. Forget about the whole thing and stay safely in my bubble. Those points were crucial for me.

Rather than becoming setbacks, my anxieties became learning opportunities that resulted in a deeper understanding of what my fears are and how I can conquer them. In coming here I have already begun the conquest; I look forward to facing and embracing the challenges yet to come.


Like Sara, you can be one of our students and make a change in your life and others. Being in our climate change program will help you not only to learn how to combat this evil that affects our planet. But also, it will give you a new perspective on life.

Being at Richmond Vale Academy is an unforgettable experience. Share this article with your friends and invite them to join the RVA family.

If you have any questions or concerns, please leave a comment and we will clarify them.

Preparing for Richmond Vale Academy

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