UWCD Inaugural Graduation Ceremony: Ending with New Beginnings

On 28 May UWCD was filled with anticipation and high hopes. Students were doing their best not to crowd in the college vestibule, but impatience was driving them to the front door. This was a day with two momentous occasions simultaneously: arrival of the long-awaited families and their graduation, which was at the same time inaugural in UWCD chronicles.

A memorable day for the students and parents, founders and donors, it started with showing the guests around the campus, introducing them to the college life, telling how much they all gained during their studies.

Following, the official ceremony began with speeches of admiration, emotional confessions and a bright hope that although as every good thing UWCD experience had an end, it was still going to be a beginning of a new thrilling page.

Head of College John Puddefoot called this time of being period of unimaginable challenge and opportunity at the same time. “We always have to make choices; and the choices that we make, create what we call our curriculum. As Seren Kjerkegor said: 'The trouble with life is that it can only be lived forward, but it can be only understood backward'. As we sit here looking back over two years, we can understand it extraordinarily well. We can see all sorts of things that if we knew what we know now we would have done differently. The challenge is always to live life forward. Talking about creating the future may seem quite odd at first as it is going to happen whether we like it or not. However, we do have a choice about which future we will create.”

First year students were excited to see off the founding students of the college; “we all came here to learn and now it is time to go to the outside world. Now we know that there are people with the same ideals that we have out there. We also know different points of view,” they said.

Co-Founder of the college Veronika Zonabend congratulated all the guests on this joyous and yet somehow sad occasion: “Students, parents, friends of UWC community, today all of us became pioneers of this college. Here we start the long journey of ambassadors and successful citizens of the world educated in Dilijan. I am sure you realize how lucky you were to make friends for life and grow together. There will never be again the first graduation class of the college; this is a privilege you will always cherish.” She urged the students to remember that this privilege also bears certain responsibilities of creating traditions at the college and becoming the first ambassadors of the college, “I am sure you will all make the school extremely proud and show to the whole world what a truly remarkable place Dilijan is.”

The speeches were then followed by student performances; each of those served as a perfect illustration of the main mission of UWC movement: uniting people, nations and cultures for peace and sustainable future. Indeed, the 94 pioneer cohort of UWCD have established a striking harmony and understanding, which will go a long way in the college history.

Many warm words were said on this day; words of appreciation, gratitude and friendship. Graduating students talked about the lessons they learned at UWCD; they highlighted that while being challenging, those lessons were at the same time immensely rewarding. They handed over the experience, patience and emotions they had to the next UWCD generation with the hope that they bear those proudly and cradle the unique spirit sowed by all the contributors of the college.