Richmond Vale

Joost, Germany: Everyone can make a change

joost Joost, Germany: Everyone can make a change
As my team arrived in St. Vincent and at the Richmond Vale Academy, we decided pretty early that we want to assist in re-establish a farmers market in Chateaubelair, a little village on the North-Leeward side of the main Island of St. Vincent. As there were attempts to build up a farmers market before we came to St. Vincent, which ultimately failed...
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Richmond Vale

Building weekend in the mountain

Building Weekend at Richmond Vale
Our Permaculture Teacher, Luke, and his family, own land in the province of Vermont in Saint Vincent. This piece of land is located in the mountain, when you reach the end of the paved road you still need to drive for a couple kilometers on a very bumpy rocky muddy road. At the end of the path, there is a small shed with a covered deck, full of too...
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Richmond Vale

When we make an agreement, we owe it to ourselves to act on that

richmondvale-frames-owe-it-to-ourself
As part of joining Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) every student agrees to what we call 'The Frames'. This is the policy in which we agree to have no drugs and no alcohol as part of what we do here at the school. There are several reason for this from simple things such as reducing work ethic to having negative impact on the community.  For me one...
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Richmond Vale

Belair Government School Visiting RVA

Today, 6th-grade students from Belair Government school came all the way to Richmond to visit our Campus! It is always a little adventure and a great learning experience for everyone, for the school as much as for us here at RVA! Heather gave a presentation about living at RVA, our programs, the home-garden projects and of course about climate change. After a quick lunch with a view of the volcano and St Lucia, we divided into smaller groups and all the students from the Climate compliance March team and Fighting with the poor team became tour guides for the day! In another Kind of School we want to live a sustainable life, so we try to be pioneers and to build example projects. Showing our sustainability projects to 10-12 year olds taught us RVA students how to keep things simple and exciting!  We showed them our solar panels, the biogas station, the new Permaculture Kitchen Garden, our Chicken Hotel, the Water collection system, Our Organic Gaden, the Compost system, the Fruit Forest, the Pigs, and even a little visit to the Horses! Seeing how enthusiastic and excited the students were about the visit made us very happy :) We love showing our other kind of school to many interested kids and to inspire them to change the World! Such a positive feedback made us smile: "This is a little...
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Richmond Vale

Maria, Latvia: RVA is a place you can make a real impact

Maria, Latvia: RVA is a place you can make a real impact
My name is Maria. I am from Latvia. Richmond Vale Academy is not about theoretical exercises. It is a place where you can make a real impact. The six months teams are focusing on building home gardens for local families. It is really possible to make a change in peoples lives. Gardens are an important step towards self-sustainability, self-sufficiency and adapting to global climate change. Long time ago people called St. Vincent: “The Land of Blessed”. It is true. This place is magical: rainbows almost every day, fireflies, hummingbirds, diverse marine life, breath-taking views. My 18 months FWP team was so blessed to participate in the Permaculture Design course . I am very grateful for this chance. We have an amazing teacher Leon-C. Malan who is not only professional in permaculture, but also a very good teacher. He gave us a very good theoretical base, awaking enthusiasm in things which at first might sound boring. If before coming here somebody had told me that I would be interested in watching videos about soil and compost in my free time, I wouldn’t believe it. Permaculture reminded me about connecting with the Earth, and this place made me really curious and passionate about the environment and gardening. As our final product we will design a home garden project based on permaculture principles. The most overwhelming part is that...
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Richmond Vale

John: One month with the Climate Compliance Conference

John: One month with the Climate Compliance Conference
RVA Climate Compliance: 1 month programme evaluation Expectations: From attending the 1 month Climate Compliance programme at RVA I hoped to learn about Permaculture in relation to sustainable farming. I wanted to see how it works in practice, getting to grips with the day to day management of the farm and gardens, whilst picking up new ideas and developing skills. I also hoped to live a healthier lifestyle and perhaps even get myself fit. Courses & Studies Morning classes I found some of the one hour morning classes to be very useful sources of information and learning. Highlights were those on Agroforestery, Soil Structure and Solar Panels. Documentaries – documentary evenings provided opportunity to watch material selected from the wider RVA community within a focused environment. It was good to discuss the subjects afterwards, and take on board diverse insights and opinions. Effects of Climate Change Tour – perhaps the most poignant element of the course was this tour of places and people suffering recent extremities of weather. People were forthcoming with their views once they got going highlighting education and sustainable living as improvements to be made. Climate Compliance practical actions  Solar Dryer We constructed a solar dryer which we presented this to the RVA community and to the wider community on the RVA open day for which we made flyers alongside a variety of...
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Richmond Vale

Magdy from Mexico: Do what you can

Magdy from Mexico: Do what you can
In this past year I have been studying and learning about the causes of poverty and what can I do to make this world a better place. I think is possible to change the world, we can change our world! There are many places, people we all can help in our own countries; there many organizations that are trying to make a difference but they need people who want to work and see a change like "If you want something well done you have to do it your self". There are many ways and ideas of how you can help but everything comes down to do what is NEEDED. You can start little with your neighborhood your city or you can go and travel and participate with different organization. I have been a volunteer almost all my life, my parents were missionaries and since I was a child I was there to help my brother or sister when needed. I remember thinking as a child and wondering why more people don’t participate in helping. Why? We all want a better world for us and our children so why don't more people participate in changing the world to the one we want! You only need to take the decision that you want to help, it can be big or can be small it doesn’t matter. Just be...
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Richmond Vale

Mi experiencia en RVA (Spanish & English Version) by Nelson Ramirez

Hola a todos! Acabo de iniciar mi experiencia en el programa impartido por RVA llamado “ Luchando contra la pobreza ”. Es mi tercer día en el centro de estudios y estoy gratamente sorprendido en varios aspectos:   1. La belleza natural que rodea la escuela es impresionante, estamos cerca de ríos, cascadas y del mar.  Al atardecer en la puesta del sol, se puede apreciar paisajes de una belleza única.                       2. Los temas que están propuestos en el programa son súper interesantes, muy actuales y el material de apoyo es muy completo. Este material de apoyo ha sido en su mayoría elaborado por los estudiantes y profesores de la escuela.   3. La diversidad cultural que se encuentra en la escuela hace muy enriquecedora esta experiencia (en el centro de estudios se encuentran más de 15 nacionalidades), adicionalmente la posibilidad de comunicarnos en el inglés como idioma común para todos hace que esta experiencia sea apropiada para aquellas personas que desean mejorar sus habilidades en el manejo del idioma inglés. Nelson Ramirez – Colombia English version   Hello everybody I am Nelson from Colombia, this week started my experience as a part of the team called “ Fighting with the poor ”. It is my third day at Richmond Vale Academy and really surprised for...
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Richmond Vale

Camping at La Soufrière Volcano by Alexandra

Camping at La Soufrière Volcano by Alexandra
La Soufrière is an active volcano on the island of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean. The name is French and some people call it a “Sulfur mine”. You can feel the smell of sulfur as soon as you reach the top.The height of the volcano is 1234 meters (4048 feet). La Soufrière National Park, which includes craters, hot springs and rivers occupies a third of Saint Vincent. [caption id="attachment_11381" align="aligncenter" width="654"] La Soufrière Volcano We set our mind to hike it and camp up there even though we heard a lot of stories from different people that is quite impossible because of the terrain or unstable weather. We took it as a challenge. Most of our grouphas hiked before so we were not completely inexperienced. We decided not to ask a guide to show us the way since we had one of the students done the trail for several times. He never camped up there, but our plan seemed perfect and we had everything in place, including the weather on the morning of the hike. 9 Tips for camping at La Soufrière Volcano: Take in consideration that the rainy season in Saint Vincent starts in May and ends in September. There is no water up there so you need to carry as much as you think you need. We had 5 - 6 liters/person for one...
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Richmond Vale

Fishing with locals by Karolina

Fishing with locals by Karolina
By Karolina On Friday I had a very unique experience. Octavian, Christopher, Ammon and I went fishing with locals. We set the time at 16:30, however they were fashionably late. A boat was almost full and the only one I knew there was Tyson. When I was about to jump into the boat, they gave me a specific look. It was not new for me, I call it “what that girl is doing here?!” However, it did not really bother me.  I could already smell the adventures! I used to go fishing with my father, brother and cousins a lot before but I have never tried a net fishing. I like watching how people interact with each other here. Locals were speaking very fast with a heavy accent so I barely could understand the content. They body language showed that they were relaxed and knew what they were doing. Yet for me all the fishing procedure did not seem very well organized. In the beginning we were diving in order to check the place. I did not bring the swimming suit with me, so I just jumped to the water with all my clothing. Also, if I would have one I would do the same because I really do not like this kind of attention in just guys company. After checking the place Tyson took a...
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Richmond Vale

Volcano hike or teamwork at its best by Karolina

Volcano hike or teamwork at its best by Karolina
By Karolina On Friday us, the facilitators, and all DRET students hiked up the volcano. We left RVA quite early in the morning with a lot of water on us. Before starting to climb up Selly suggested gathering all together in the circle. I really liked that ritual because it lifted our spirits up. Also, since nowadays our pace of life is very fast we barely have time to stop, look, listen to others and especially consider other people’s needs. In DRET group was one overweight girl. Even though Ashika was very determined to go up, just looking how hard she was making her first steps made us question if she can reach the peak. And you know that, she managed! In the beginning Selly suggested to let Ashika go in front that she can set the pace. Seemed like people respected Sellies suggestion but it was impossible to keep that super slow speed up all the time. In order to entertain other students Selly started singing. However, this plan did not work out. So Vanessa and Jorge decided to walk with Ashika on her pace. It was so nice of them! I can just imagine how tiring it was physically as well as emotionally. They told that Ashika called her father and proudly said that she hiked up the volcano. Meanwhile Selly, Elin, Ammon, me...
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Richmond Vale

It’s dangerous out there, they said! By Chris

It’s dangerous out there, they said! By Chris
By Chris Before we came to St. Vincent many people told us over and over, how dangerous it can be and how many things have happened in this island. They were talking about robberies and fights and so on. Of course, we were a little concerned about the potential danger ahead of us. I guess all such things happen here, but let’s be honest, they happen everywhere. No matter where you go, you will never be 100% save. As mentioned before, we were quite concerned about the things that might happen, but after almost 3 months I haven’t witnessed one single situation that seemed somehow threatening. In fact, the people here in St. Vincent are the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever met. In my hometown in Austria there were more occasions that made me anxiety. Everybody here is so incredibly friendly and chilled, with a few exceptions I guess, but in all my time here I haven’t met a single person that didn’t put at least a little smile on my face. I really think that if more people would carry a little Vincy-Sunshine in their hearts, the world would be a better place.
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Richmond Vale

Hitchhiking from Georgetown down to Kingstown by Karolina

Hitchhiking from Georgetown down to Kingstown by Karolina
By Karolina After the fair organized by St. Benedict church, Shie-Shie, Ammon and I decided to stay overnight in Georgetown and hike up the volcano the next day. However, due to bad weather conditions up there we decided to hitchhike instead. The first thing we did in the morning was running to the beach and swimming in the stormy sea. The waves were massive; I am not even kidding you! Ammon was hesitating a bit but I knew we could not miss this chance! Shie-Shie was super scared but did not try to stop us. It was really hard to stay standing when the waves were hitting the shore. After swimming we felt so refreshed. 10:10 we reached the main road and caught a van which speedy brought us all the way down to the capital. It was Sunday morning, so Kingstown was incredibly quiet. We left the city center and tried to get a ride but unfortunately no matter how hard we tried nobody stopped for a while. To begin with, it is not very common to hitchhike in St. Vincent because if you are stopping a car and asking to give you a lift in most of the cases they will ask you to pay. After many failures, Shie-Shie started to show her communication skills. And then one man stopped for us!!! He was...
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Richmond Vale

Whaling in Bequia by Lilith

Whaling in Bequia by Lilith
By Lilith Bequia is one of the few places in the world where limited whaling is still allowed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Whaling started to become a part of the peoples lifes in Bequia when William Wallace, a Bequian with Scottish roots who had worked on North American whaling boats, returned to the island. He started training workers to hunt and kill whales and opened the first commercial whaling station in Bequia in 1875. Until today the fishers on the island are still allowed to take four whales per year, a very controversial topic. The IWC only allows whaling in very few countries who practice Aboriginal Substistence Whaling. Those countries have to fulfill specific requirements to be granted whaling. During the research on the island we did not only visit the Bequia Whaling & Maritime Museum where we learnt about the history of whaling, but also found ourselves at the fisherie in Paget Farm, where we talked to fishermen, whalers, and the first and second harpooneers. We were able to take a look at their boat and their harpoones to have a better understanding of how a hunt would look like. The harpoones and the boat looked so small next to the massive skull of a whale from one of the previous hunts. It's huge, almost as big as a standing person. We asked...
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Richmond Vale

Embracing the New by Juliana

Embracing the New by Juliana
By Juliana, new student, CCC Team #15 “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life and in change there is power.” - Alan Cohen This quote very much resonates with a decision I made a little over a year ago. Movement and change have been two constants in my life since, no pun intended. Just recently, I’ve learnt that the word courage is a derivative of the Latin coraticum, which could be translated as “action from the heart”. And this has made a whole difference on how I see my decision as being a courageous one. Because the decision to leave what was no longer meaningful had no rationale involved, it could only have come from my heart! And boy, this is freedom!! This is how I have come to be involved in projects based on a lot of courage and meet people who have also been acting from their hearts. This same movement has brought me to Richmond Vale Academy, located in one of the poorest islands of the Caribbean, to be a part of the Climate Compliance team for the next six months. Eleven of us, coming from...
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One Day out of My Life as a Working Student by Michelle

One Day out of My Life as a Working Student by Michelle
With this blog I want to share one of my days with you. This way you get a look inside. Tuesday 14 February 2017: I woke up at 6 o'clock in the morning. Today is laundry day, which I started early because I need to dry my sheets before evening. There is a schedule and everybody has one day a week to do laundry. I planned to bring Jack and Spirit to the field below, near the beach. But when I got outside I saw a small yellow airplane flying very low. Today they're opening the new airport so I assumed it was because of that. Because I wasn't sure how the horses would react I decided to wait. In the meantime I went to "the fruit forest" to cut some Moringa. I brought it to all four horses and hung with them until they were finished eating. [caption id="attachment_10456" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Star fruit trees Meanwhile the airplane was gone so I took the halters and went to Jack and Spirit. I called them and they came to the gate. They were very polite and focusing on me so I put the halter on and walked them outside. When I started walking I noticed that I had just started walking instead of first asking the horse to come. So that was already a good lesson to start with...
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Richmond Vale

Why should you feed your horse with moringa?

Why should you feed your horse with moringa?
[caption id="attachment_10058" align="alignleft" width="320"] Moringa forest My daily task in taking care of the horses is to feed them moringa. Moringa, also called The Miracle Tree, really is a miracle. It's a very healthy plant that can be eaten by humans and animals and it's very easy to plant. Almost all of the parts of the tree are edible, raw or cooked. It contains an incredibly high dose of vitamins, minerals and proteins. At the academy we eat moringa leaves in our salad and drink it in tea. The horses and the pigs eat the whole branches. Raw it tastes a little bit like radish and cooked it has a mild neutral taste. At Richmond vale is a forest where they plant the moringa. There is enough and it grows very fast. For the horses I cut the whole branches. New leaves will appear in several days. If you love horses it's a great joy to spoil them with moringa. They're really fond of it. They know exactly when I'm going to the forest and waiting for me to come back. They're looking with the prettiest faces ever and calling for me. They immediately start eating and won't stop before they are finished. To get the moringa, it is also good exercise and keeps me fit. I cut as many as I can carry. The branches...
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Richmond Vale

Communication with horses

Communication with horses
Most of the time when people communicate with horses it's just one-way. People do speak but mostly fail at listening. When you want to accomplish something with your horse without force it's important that you can understand each other. Communication is speaking and listening. Stina told me that it’s important to take time, wait and listen. Think about what's going on in his mind, where is his attention? To understand what the horse is saying you don’t need much knowledge of horses. Just some good sense and lots of interest will manage. Be curious, when you focus on details it becomes very interesting. It's like communication with people. How often aren't we just listening to confirm our own thoughts instead of being interested in what's going on in someone else's mind? Now I become more aware of how often I ask something while the horse is still processing or focused on something else. Stina taught me that it's not that the horse doesn’t want to listen. It’s just that he can't hear you. When the horse is distracted, wait wait wait. If necessary ask for his attention and then ask your question. Repeat this every time you ask something while the horse is distracted or isn't reacting directly. You also will notice that the horse tells a lot himself, mostly when you are not aware. He...
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Richmond Vale

Compassion

Compassion
I have been working with Stina and practicing "basic" exercises with her four horses: Jack, Spirit, Elena and Magic. Through this it has become more and more clear that there are just a few essentials to build up a real connection with horses. These are: lots of fun, be open minded, enjoy every single step, and be full of life. But the harder I try, the further it goes. I think this happens because we learned to stop listening to our true selves. We all have different kinds of needs. Sometimes there is a need missing and there appears a feeling of displeasure. A long time ago people started teaching each other to get rid of this feeling as soon as possible. That's why I think our mind (ego) is ingenious to come up with all kinds of strategies. It's an external process what makes us dependent, it can easily come and go. It makes us vulnerable because we aren't in control of it. To accomplish what I think is needed is awareness. To develop awareness you need lots of compassion. Compassion is an internal process. It's about allowing everything that’s going on inside to happen. To me it means that it's okay to feel displeasure, just feel it. It’s okay to invent strategies, just let them pass. You even can practice strategies, just be aware of...
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Richmond Vale

Leadership and Mother Courage

Leadership and Mother Courage
Dear Reader , In the coming weeks we will share appetizers from the fascinating studies in the 18 months Fighting Shoulder to Shoulder Program. The 18 months teams have been running at the Academy since 2012 and more than 50 people have joined. Today's study piece is from the section of Leadership , specifically the task "Leading and managing the project". Enjoy! Kind regards Stina Herberg Director Richmond Vale Academy Leadership [caption id="attachment_9297" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The director exercising her leadership skills Good leadership is a straightforward thing. Bad leadership is probably easier to accomplish, especially when you have some power, meaning the means to punish people, when they do not obey orders. Bossing people around may look like efficient leadership , but does not accomplish anything in the long run, only a growing resistance and opposition towards the so-called leadership. Good and bad leadership A clever Chinese, I guess it was Mao Tse-Tsung, once made a telling picture of good and bad leadership , which is here passed on from memory; the good leader does not walk far ahead of the people showing himself off as somebody special you should admire and telling everybody unrealistically how to behave and act. On the other hand, he does not walk behind the people shouting and gesticulating with his arms either. This is not leadership at all, it is...
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