It is a new Academic Year with New Students, New Staff and a New Head.
It is the early hours of the morning. The moon is just past full. There is a chill in the air. Most of the new second years are gathering below the Dining Hall. There is a hush of expectancy and more students run from their beds. Some wear blankets, some wear coats and many have pajama legs showing above slippers.
Then a bus arrives and the night is split with a cheer. As the doors open there is an outburst of applause as the brand new first year group, sleepy eyed after many hours’ travel, are welcomed with joy and real affection.
I tell this story because, more than anything else, it taught me that we have something special here. We have a level of care and concern, of sharing and understanding, which would be surprising anywhere. Then you remember that we have young people from 72 different countries and you realise how truly remarkable it is, how lucky they are and how lucky am I to experience this real warmth and enthusiasm and know that the new venture that is every Academic Year is under way.
The beautiful buildings that reflect the sylvan valley in which we live echo that initial overwhelming greeting but, as its futuristic element draws us in, we begin to see what UWC Dilijan is all about: our student community and the amazing experience that is partly about learning, partly about experience, but a lot about relationships becoming friendships across cultures.
This College is now in its third year and its foundations are firmly set. We are still strongly committed to the determination that we will be a world leader in educational thinking and development. Our chief tool is the eminently respected International Baccalaureate programme, which we use to encourage each student to find the best way to learn with and from each other and their teachers in an environment designed to foster and test enquiring minds. We are a community of staff and students that challenge each other to achieve and enjoy, to evaluate and question, to take risks and overcome difficulties.
And it does not stop there. This is not an inward looking self-contained bubble. Through our co-curricular programme our students branch out into the local community of Dilijan, into the wider country of Armenia and further still, through the good offices of our founders, to the global network of the RVVZ Foundation.
We have just finished another evening meal in our Dining Hall sitting with students and staff and talking about what it means to be part of a global community, the need for service, for open-mindedness, and generosity of spirit, ambition to be the best that we can be and for all of that to be applied with commitment and determination, with care and thoughtfulness.
This is what it means to be a United World College. This is what it means to be UWC Dilijan.
Head of College