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St. Vincent, the place I have been dreaming about for a long time

 

I am in the place I have been dreaming about for a long time (without even knowing that it exists). One might wonder why St. Vincent is so special. To begin with the nature here is just breathtaking. No matter where you turn, you are surrounded by mountains. It is been two months since we arrived, and I cannot get enough of the view. The vegetation is incredibly rich as well. The soil is so rich that if you stand on it for a while they say you will become taller. Moreover, there is a huge variety of fruits here. When one fruit cycle is over, another begins. By the way the mango season is about to start and when it starts people can survive just on mangoes (almost). Coconuts are a very important part of life in St. Vincent. If you are thirsty they provide you with water, if you are hungry they fulfil you with nutritious coconut meat et cetera. 

Second off all, Vincentians are super friendly and it is hard to describe in words how friendly they are. I really like to be around locals: they are bringing good vibes. Vincentians always greet you! Usually, after “good morning”, “good day”,  “good night” other sentences follow or invitations - for example to give a lift until town or explaining where you can find your desirable place. Furthermore the local people are connected and caring: they look straight to your eyes, wave at you and show interest in your cultural background while sharing their traditions. I bet I will get a reverse culture shock when I go back home…


And last but not the least is music. Music is everywhere you go. One of my favorite things to do is going to Kingstown (the capital city of the island) with a van while listening to the Caribbean music: usually extremely loud and with a clear beat (very danceable). Thus, I would call St. Vincent a friendly island by all means.  

ON THE ROAD TO WORLD CHANGERS

I have had the chance to witness and experience not just in my own life, but also in the lives of my students who carrying out this program, the big change between the person that comes to our school and the person who leaves at the end of the program.

When our students first come to the school, meet all of us living here and realize how many things are going on, they become excited and also sometimes a bit confused, so it takes time for many of them to get totally on board. 
As the time passes by and with the help of each other and teachers, the students become introduced to a complex but amazing system that they have never experienced before. They come out of their comfort zone, and suddenly they are involved in interdependence relationships with people from all around the world sharing space and life 24/7. That’s indeed exciting and thrilling.

During this process many challenges will be met and the mindset of each person will most probably be in opposition to the “common sense” of someone else. But through discussions, common meetings and more discussions we need to come to a consensus that will determine the way our lives move forward together in a more harmonious way. This is a very creative and eye opening process that will bring alternative ways to a new level and that will make us question our own ways of doing things.
Being part of a community doesn’t just mean to discuss with others but to take charge of what’s going on, take responsibility in certain areas and mobilize people to keep the agreements and standards we all want to promote. Basically, living in a community can give us the tools to be a driving force in our lives and thus improve our surroundings by doing so.
The relationships between the people means a lot and dialectics is an important part of the learning process.

Focusing on the programs periods:

The programs we offer in our school aim to instruct development instructors and climate activists who travel to a developing country to make a difference in those communities they work with. The learning process that community living brings is an essential part of this formation.

After several months in our small but intense community at Lindersvold the students learn about issues of our times and about actions to be taken in developing countries. They dig deeper into different but relevant topics for future projects through courses and sharing knowledge. They get prepared for the next step; moving to St. Vincent or to a so called “developing country” in Africa to try to bring development. When I write about development I mean in terms of doing something meaningful, useful and with consciousness that the actions will benefit the environment and the lives of the “poor” in a self-sufficient and self-sustainable way.

Once our students are in the field, they become aware of the huge responsibility that this position represents. Some of them could never have imagined themselves in this position before, but here they are, trembling and hesitating about their capacity, feeling the weight and the importance of such a challenge. But this is what they have been aiming for, this is where they dreamt to be and now there is no turning back but to look forward with determination and courage.

The students now encounter a different reality and culture. In the next coming period many meetings and discussions take place with the communities around. Ears must be wide open to hear the expectations and demands of the communities. This is very important because our students try to fulfill the demands and facilitate the process but also take the lead in an educational way that will bring awareness and independence to those people in the communities. Beyond this it is important to teach the communities how to teach others so the knowledge will spread exponentially and the impact spreads to many more people.

Out of these intercultural exchanges that come from working together with people from different places and cultural backgrounds, our students also come to understand a wide variety of reasoning that never crossed their minds before. Now they all are growing; they are realizing how subjective everything is and how unique, small and powerful we, human beings are.  By travelling, by working together with others we rethink ourselves and evolve into a more tolerant and wise human being able to open our mind to the unknown that comes when we break the barrier of getting out of our comfort zone with energy love and understanding.
Now, our students may not have realized yet, but they have grown, they have changed and they are becoming more humanized and aware of how much potential people have when coming together.

Being in a developing country also helps to become more aware of how privileged we (Europeans) are, but at the same time how much disconnected we are from many important things of life that we take for granted. For example we are disconnected from nature and direct social relationships just to mention a couple.
It is a common trait in developed countries to think individualistic but now the understanding of our students has changed while taking action and making changes with others. Now they have realized their capacities, about the power of togetherness, about the potential of being an active force in their surroundings. Now they are becoming a powerful force that can promote change by being an available example that involves others in the process. Now they can see how sitting at home blaming or expecting others to make a change is not a solutions or realistic at all. But rather to go out, act and on the way find some other enthusiastic people who dare to turn dreams into reality.

That is known as the butterfly effect… when a small action can trigger an exponential effect around the globe. You teaching 5 people and they teach others. This will bring the knowledge of one person to 30,and those 30 bring it to 150 more so we are already reaching almost 200 people with a very simple act of kindness and hope. 
When the time passes by and the students are at the end of a life changing project, they begin to realize the impact they brought to the place, the people they moved who now celebrate their farewell party with words of love and appreciation. All see the changes they brought to each other´s lives and vice versa. This makes them consider the full potential that actions can bring. It makes them realize and reconsider their lives.

To be honest such an experience makes many people addicted in a special way: we just want to be agents of world change for the rest of our lives. To be as active as we can, wherever we are!

 

 

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A new challenge

One quiet day the headmaster of the school asked our team to come to her office because she had a offer for us. The offer was to take care of 24 teenagers from England and St. Vincent. She wanted us to be with them was because we have learned about climate change and global warming in Denmark and their program consisted in learning about those topics. We decided to take the task but it was a pretty tight schedule for us because we had to prepare everything for them and we had only three days to do it.
Most of the time we were planning to go out with them and the last days were the best because we went to some of the other islands. I liked being out but I also enjoyed the first three days because this was the first time I could teach somebody and really felt like a teacher, it was exciting. I wasn´t afraid which suprised me. But I knew my knowledge is wider in this topic than theirs and this gave me confidence. What made it hard was to make them speak up in front of the group as they did not feel very comfortable with each other yet and they were shy.
Now I know how all the teachers felt who ever taught me because I used to be exactly the same - poor teachers... Anyway when we started doing practical things their relationships grew stronger. Every day we could see some difference in their behaviour. Working together; planting trees, collecting trash from the beach and on the road, building a fence etc really makes a special connection between people and it´s beautiful to watch.
Can you imagine in the end that those shy people made such a fantasstic performance on their graduation day that included singing, rapping, theatre and poems that we couldn´t recognize them. We got so much closer to them than we thought. I will always treasure the friendships that I built with them. I can´t wait to hear world changing news about them. What an amazing bunch of people!

View the embedded image gallery online at:
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To create a difference in the fruitforest


In RVA school they have a big fruit garden or as some people refer to it, a fruit forest and our team was assigned to work in there as one of our projects. It was the perfect opportunity to combine working and eating at the same time. I really like fruit and especially when you can´t eat them so fresh in Estonia, they become even more appealing. Anyway in our second week we already started working there.
At first it was pretty hard because we still weren´t so used to the sun and heat, which took most of our working energy. At least it was like that for me. I was sweating before starting to work. I was cleaning the fence with Karolina and I had to put long clothing on because of some of the plants and it made me sweat even more. Although it was hard to work there I kinda liked it.
The fence was totally covered with plants so that you couldn´t see anything but after a week of hard work you could see it perfectly. I like doing something like that, I would call it a total makeover. I was very satisfied with our work and with this feeling I forget everything else.

View the embedded image gallery online at:
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Letter from the Headmaster

"From the Teacher Council at One World Center Denmark, we look forward to spending the next two or three years with you, in the understanding that the world needs people who go and act together to face the challenges of today, tomorrow and the future.

We bid you welcome to a school where all of us - teachers and students - will train and build our capacities, sharing the knowledge and the skills we gain through the programs for the benefit of many."

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