May 26, 2018
While this was the third UWC Dilijan graduation, it was the first to be graced by Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia.
On May 26, the UWC Dilijan Class of 2018 – 104 students from 63 countries – bid farewell to the college and Armenia and set off on their new journey of adulthood. While this was the third UWC Dilijan graduation, it was the first to be graced by Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia and a true changemaker, who delivered a keynote speech and wished the best to the future changemakers who for two years have been nurtured in UWC Dilijan.
In his speech, he called the college a source of hope and inspiration, of enthusiasm and optimism and a symbol of Armenia’s future. He expressed his hope that the students and their families would return to Armenia, “a country with big soul, with big hope and big endeavor to human rights, democracy, rule of law and tolerance” many times in the future.
The ceremony was full of touching speeches from the students and staff and beautiful musical, dance and poetry performances by the students. The concert was opened, as is already tradition, with a dance performance by all the second year Armenian students and a song of Komitas sang by a chemistry teacher Elizabeth Sepetdjian.
One of the most important parts of the ceremony was the celebration of the donor-student relationship, as 96% of UWC Dilijan students study on full or partial scholarships. Workneh, from Ethiopia, shared his story of coming from a family of farmers with a very modest background but with great aspirations for education. He mentioned all the teachers and mentors who had helped him throughout his life to strive for education, and especially the donor who paid for him to study at UWC Dilijan, and he responded to their support by earning the best possible grades and a scholarship to study from Harvard University.
Graduating students, Katie from Germany and Mauro from Costa Rica, devoted their speeches to recalling everything that the college had given to them and how it had shaped their characters.
Katie said, “Life here is home. This school and its people…they cast a magical spell that make you forget that we are from different nations. You may call us ignorant idealists, but I’d argue we are simple believers. We believe in the gift of ideas far beyond idealism, we believe in the strength of actions far beyond activism, we believe in the power of language far beyond words”.
Mauro added, “How to forget the treasures Armenia has shown to us? This country has so much to offer, so much that is hidden and is yet to be discovered... Distance is nothing when people mean a lot. That’s why I can say for sure, it’s not a ‘good-bye’, it’s a ‘see you soon’”.
In her speech, Chair of the Board of Governors Veronika Zonabend thanked Head of College Denise Davidson for her two-year work and passed the leadership of the college to Gabriel Abad who will be leading the college starting from the next school year.
Graduates of the UWC Dilijan Class of 2018 will set out on various paths. Some of them are taking a gap year and are going to travel and explore the world, to work in NGOs in their home countries, study in educational programmes like “Global citizen” or to stay in Armenia for the “Enterprise Dilijan” programme supported by UWC Dilijan and IDeA Foundation. Others are heading to university, to the world’s most prestigious institutions to study subjects such as Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering, History and Politics. All Armenian students have been admitted to the world’s leading universities, including such notable ones as Princeton and Berkeley.