One of the most challenging but enriching project we have taken here at Richmond Vale has been to be in charge of a 17 days environmental education, climate change and biodiversity program, where 12 teenagers from Saint Vincent and 12 from England came together to learn and make different actions in order to prevent climate change.
During this time our main goals were not just to create awareness about one of the biggest issues of our time among the new generation, but to bring two totally different cultures (one developed country and thus principal contributor to climate change, and one developing country and indeed one of the most affected country regarding climate change). History had also a very important role to play during this program since St. Vincent and the Grenadines was a British colony for over 200 years. The British had a huge impact in the island landscape but also in its culture. To see those kids coming together, joining strength within different groups, exchanging cultures and understanding each other was a beautiful process we all gained from.
The first day we witnessed 24 very shy and independent teenagers avoiding intercultural exchange and not so much confidence about themselves. Within 24h we witnessed an enormous change in the way they presented themselves and the interactions among the different cultures.
The success not just during the presentations but also in the different actions like tree planting, developing a living fence in order to prevent against soil and coast erosion, a different clean up action showed how the power of community and the team work performance was increased day by day.
By the end of the program people were sad to say goodbye to each other. The graduation day turned out to be in a very creative day in which students were presenting their experiences and knowledge through poems, songs, raps, theatre plays and more. The shy students we met the first day had nothing to do with what we encountered this last day. The connections were made and the friendship gave them the confidence to do amazing things they never thought they would be able to do.
During the certificate delivery many of them were crying. It was a very emotional and touching graduation from which all will bring unforgettable memories home.
If I would have to use three words to describe such an experience I would say it has been touching, evolving and enormously beneficial.