Give all of yourself. And, ENJOY the journey.
When asked to write a letter to you about my experience at RVA the idea filled me with joy, though I had no idea what I would write. I am Jessica. I was part of the August 2007 team. The second team in Saint Vincent. After 6 months at RVA we went to Africa.
What can I say?
Living 6 months far from everything with 27 strangers is always a unique experience. I still remember our weekly meetings; "There's never enough food, people don't clean enough, fund raising is impossible, don't agree with this, or that... " hahaha
There are challenging moments. Moments where you may feel you aren't really doing anything to help, you aren't doing enough, you aren't making anything better. But, I tell you, YOU ARE. Everything you do at RVA is developing you, not only as a volunteer, but as a person.
The relationships you create there will form a part of your forever. Even if after RVA you don't see your team mates again or you don't speak to them again- you still carry them with you. I remember my team mates laughs, smiles, the way they moved.
And the people in Saint Vincent and Africa (or South America), you will never forget each other. You give them your heart, and you receive a bit of their love. You will not create images of poor and down ridden, it will be images of hope, possibility, and friendship. There will be lonely moments. Moments you want to leave. Moments you want to cry. Moments you want to scream. Moments you feel lost. We all face this.
When these feeling come, give them space. Feel them. Let them be your teacher. What is that uncertainty saying? What can you do to give more of you? If you can let doubt bring confidence and restlessness lead to strength, you will truly learn what I learned (and am sill learning).
My time at Richmond Vale Academy was the best time of my life. It's a time to do the impossible, to step out of your comfort zone, to change (not the world, but) YOURSELF! 7 years later my life is amazing and I have done some incredible things, each day continues to be an adventure, but the foundation is the time I spent at RVA.
In 2009 I returned to RVA to work as a volunteer. The team was different. The project was different. But, the spirit was the same. I instantly felt at home. Again, I worked side by side with some of the most beautiful souls I've ever known. RVA attracts like-minded amazing people. Take advantage. Learn all you can. Give all of yourself. And, ENJOY the journey.
A big hug,