Introduction to Richmond Vale Academy
by Headmaster Stina Herberg
In the programs at Richmond Vale Academy, we tackle life-important subject matters. That is why I and my fellow teachers are passionate about what we do, and why we welcome you to join us. Half of the people on this Earth belong to the ranks of The Poor, meaning that every day is a struggle to find water, food and shelter, get a job, send one’s children to school and avoid preventable, yet often fatal, diseases.
Global Warming and Climate Change is running its course, with catastrophic consequences for the future of humankind and our planet, triggered by man’s burning of fossil fuels and the resulting release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Natural resources are being exploited and stretched to their limits, species are disappearing at a rate never before seen in modern history, hunger, starvation and diseases strike down The Poor as a daily matter of course, and the powers waging never-ending wars kill people with ever more sophisticated weaponry, while millions are made refugees. Meanwhile, the capitalist system of society continues to promote its way of life and its view of the world as seen through the global media, as if everything, if not in the best order, is as good as it can possibly get. We cannot sit around and watch this. From our vantage point on the island of St. Vincent in the Eastern Caribbean, we have placed ourselves in the middle of action.
We, the teachers and students at the school, carry through programs training ourselves to work as activists, fighting shoulder to shoulder with The Poor and studying and creating local defense systems against Global Warming and Climate Change. We bring what we learn to the Public, informing and mobilizing people through books, films, radio programs, debates, exhibitions, street theater, lessons in primary schools and writings on the Internet.
* As a Development Instructor on the 18-month Fighting with The Poor course, you will dig deep, first into the present time and then into the future, studying, investigating and using the whole team as a think tank to understand the world we live in and the challenges we face, and coming up with solutions for what we must do about them. At the same time, you will prepare and train, practically and theoretically, for fighting with The Poor. Then, you will travel to a country in Central or Latin America, and for six months you will work at a project, fighting shoulder to shoulder with The Poor, in cooperation with Humana People to People. Lastly, you will return to Richmond Vale Academy with your head and hands full of new knowledge and energy for bringing it all to the Public, getting into contact with all kinds of people and spreading news and knowledge about the present, the future and Fighting with The Poor, leading to debate and a clearer understanding among people, and inspiring to action.
* As an activist on the Climate Compliance Conference for 6 months, you will be part of a 10-year, ongoing research and action project with Global Warming and Climate Change as the theme, and with the aim of making Richmond Vale Academy and the whole island of St. Vincent Climate Compliant.
The conference will see you studying the science of Global Warming and Climate Change and digging into all the big issues connected to this: the consequences for humans and our fellow species on Earth, the political and economic interests involved, how The Poor are especially hard hit, what the international community can do, and how people can protect themselves. It will see you deliberating and defining the concept of Climate Compliance and what it entails in practical terms. You will bring the warning far and wide, uniting with people in St. Vincent, teaching, discussing, listening and learning from their experiences. Building on the results of the ongoing conference, you turn the knowledge into actions, forming GAIA clubs with people all over the island, making Garden Farms, installing sustainable and affordable forms of energy, fortifying hurricane shelters, and taking a host of other initiatives that we cannot tell you about, because they are yet to be invented and figured out by students, teachers and people in St. Vincent during the 20 six-month courses that make up the conference as a whole.
At Richmond Vale Academy, you will live a collective life in an international environment, with teachers and participants from many different countries and with a multitude of different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, skills, languages and education. Sharing life and work in this setting with its challenges, necessities and important subject matters constitutes an excellent training in and of itself. You will find yourself forced to solve the conflicts that arise within the team. You will learn to speak out and contribute constructively with your opinion, and you will train your ability to find consensus and get things done. You will learn to focus on reaching the goals you have set, and you will work hard, build your stamina and become hearty. Through it all, you will build friendship and comradeship with your fellow students and teachers, and in the end you will swim like a fish in water, finding it natural to live and work as part of a collective effort with others from different parts of the world.
If an easy life is what you seek, we advise you not to enroll at Richmond Vale Academy. The programs are demanding and challenging. You will discover the great pleasure and sense of comradeship when you achieve a common goal together with your team, and you will realize again and again how much more you can achieve when you put your forces together.
The life at Richmond Vale Academy is in many ways simple. We live at the end of the road in the second poorest nation in the Caribbean, very far from the consumer society of shopping, restaurants and bars. So we produce our own culture and entertainment, and a lot of creativity follows.
Working together with people at the school and in St. Vincent and fighting with The Poor in Latin America will move you as a person. From morning till night, you will be involved in life important issues. You will get to know much more about what is going on in the world, and as you ponder and combine, discuss and conclude on what you learn and experience, and then teach what you learn to others, you become wiser. You will also learn a lot of new skills: practical skills, language skills, communication skills, the skill of speaking in public, and skills in producing all kinds of media and information.
You will realize that you have a lot to contribute with from your surplus and abilities, and you will discover how much impact you can make by going together with others and giving it all you got.
At Richmond Vale Academy, we love practical work. You will find our teaching methods very practical compared to what you are probably used to. You will learn a lot simply by doing it, and you will train finding solutions and taking practical action based on theoretical studies.