Following mock exams week, when DP2 students had a sneak peek of what their IB exams will feel like in May, the UWC Dilijan community had a long weekend, an opportunity to shake off the academic routine and spend some time exploring the region. Students divided into several groups and set off to different parts of Armenia and Georgia, each having their own research mission.
One of the destinations was Tatev, a 9th-century Armenian Apostolic monastery in Syunik Province in southeastern Armenia. They also visited TaTever, the longest reversible cableway in the world (running 5,752 m) and had a chance to explore several of the most attractive hiking trails in Armenia.
Another international group of our students spent the long weekend on a food quest in Georgia – the mission was to explore the local cuisine and try as many flavours as possible in 3 days.
Despite being a rather big group of 8 people, we agreed on nearly everything, namely - visiting a jazz club; seeing the bazar; eating homemade improvised sandwiches in the park; seeing Stalin’s house; a stroll in the botanical garden; going to an old theme park and eating, what some might say, the best khinkali in Georgia. Jeppe, Denmark, UWCD’18
You can’t say Tbilisi is small but somehow two groups of UWC Dilijan students managed to take over the city and then ended up meeting altogether in quite an unexpected place.
As soon as we finished indulging in the good food that Georgia is well known for, we walked to the famous Freedom Bridge, which led us to the cable car station: the sight of the entire city from above was simply breathtaking. All the way to the top we could see the statue of Mother Georgia looking over the big city from on high. It was as if she was welcoming us and daring us to explore the rest of Tbilisi.
Vaja, our DP1 student from Tbilisi invited all of us to his home to experience a home cooked Georgian meal and to enjoy the company of his Georgian family. Other students that also happened to be in Tbilisi started joining us, and soon Vaja’s home was filled with laughter and cheer of students from UWC Dilijan. It was an extraordinary night that brought together people from all over the world under one roof in celebration of the bond of family and love. This proved that wherever we go in the world, we now have family. Takhona, Swaziland, UWCD’18
A big part of the community spent the long weekend exploring the sights of the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. The programme was quite rich and diverse, including taking in historic sights, cultural getaways and achievements in the sphere of educational innovations.
On the day of our arrival we went to Khor Virap (Arm.: deep dungeon) – a 7th century ancient Armenian monastery which offers a great view of Mount Ararat. Later we visited the Temple of Garni and the Geghard monastery, where we were warmly welcomed by locals selling delicious treats and got the chance to dance to some live traditional Armenian music. In addition to the historic sites, we also enjoyed the Italian opera “Tosca” at the tremendous Yerevan Opera House, went on a tour around the Tufenkian Carpet Museum and the Ararat Brandy Factory, and visited the Tumo Centre for Creative Technology. How could anyone not be jealous? Wherever we went, we felt warmth, we felt peacefulness. The spirit of Armenia is in the street sellers trying to get you to buy some lavash. It’s in the dances of the local children and in the smiles on their faces. It was such a precious experience to be a part of this spirit. Simona, Bulgaria, UWCD’18
The holistic approach to education at UWC Dilijan is not limited to the classroom, but encompasses everything we do. This was proved once again by the group of Outdoor Activities that went for an exploratory hike to Gegharkunik region. They were invited to one of the public schools of Tsaghkunq village: this was an exciting experience both for the children and the UWCD students. The pupils invited the students to the final rehearsal of the theatre play dedicated to 8 March, the International Women's Day.
Overall, everyone in the community had a chance to find what they were looking for during this long weekend. And now they are all back ready and set to take up the academic challenges, IB as well as the second graduation that is coming up very soon.
If someone had told me a year ago, that I would be walking up and down the streets of a city called Tbilisi with friends from Armenia, Latvia and Zimbabwe, I would have laughed. But coming to UWC Dilijan has opened doors to experiences I would have never dreamed of before, and my long-weekend trip to Georgia was one of them. Takhona, Swaziland, UWCD’18
UWC Dilijan can, as well as Armenia, sometimes be like a little bubble, filled as it is with IB, expectations, and pressure, in the good way, from many different sources. Having an entire weekend out, travelling with best friends will always result in great things, especially when the trip was very much needed. When a mix of admiring something completely new and beautiful, like a girl or, in our case, Tbilisi; the feeling of home and warmth; and the existential feeling of doing exactly what you want to washes over you for a weekend, your happiness will not only rise for the moment, but impart new energy that you can spread to your peers. The feeling of lightness was very much felt when arriving back to our “homeland” Armenia to get a sense of what reality is. A sense that, in the bigger picture, is stunning, valuable, and beautifully enlightening, but also a sense that is desirable to get away from time to time. Jeppe, Denmark, UWCD’18