Aurora Gratitude Scholars at UWC Dilijan

In November 2015, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and Near East Foundation (NEF) announced the granting of 10 scholarships to students from Syria, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon selected to study at United World College (UWC) schools around the world. The programme includes at-risk youth from the Middle East affected by conflict, displacement, and poverty.

In August 2016 UWC Dilijan welcomed six out of the 10 Aurora Gratitude scholars that were given the chance to spend two years studying the internationally renowned IB Diploma programme as well as gain new experience through living in an entirely new country. As the second semester draws to a close, each of them has found a way to develop themselves, expand upon their skills and elaborate their objectives.

Yahia (Syria) is in the Global Politics class, where the students simulate various international congresses and assemblies, trying to find multilaterally acceptable solutions to crises and conflicts. He is also an active contributor to the Model United Nations CAS, and as such was in the UWC Dilijan delegation to the MUN Dubai (15-18 March).

Farah (Palestine) is actively involved in community engagement projects – as a part of one of her service CASes she visits the Orran NGO in Vanadzor, helping local children from underprivileged families learn English, develop social skills and explore career opportunities. Ahmad (Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon) also contributes to the interactions with the community in Transformation Through Tennis and Swimming Teaching & Lessons CASes, where he works with pupils from local schools and neighbouring villages. Teachers describe him as an earnest person, who has a positive influence on the student body. Ahmad (Syria) has taken up quite a diverse set of activities including playing the piano and football, and is focused on empowering, consolidating and cultivating his ideas here at UWC Dilijan. Back home Elani (Israel) was involved in many activities, such as the Hebrew Scouts youth movement, Seeds of Peace program and the Israeli MUN conference. Here at UWC Dilijan she took up visual arts and in the words of her teachers is courageous, able to think for herself and uses art to express her ideals and beliefs. Nour (Lebanon) is the son of a refugee from Sudan, but was born in Lebanon. He had a long journey before arriving at UWC Dilijan; after months of efforts and dedicated work, he obtained a travel document, which will allow him to stay in Armenia for two years and travel home to see his family in Lebanon.

Another two UWC Dilijan students are here as recipients of the Amal Clooney Scholarship, an annual award established in partnership with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and esteemed international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Each year the scholarship programme provides funding for a female student from Lebanon who has demonstrated a strong interest in the promotion of human rights and international issues. Currently there are two Amal Clooney Scholarship fellows at UWC Dilijan – Pamela, a DP2 student who is extremely interested in promoting inclusivity and reducing stereotypical threats, and Dalia, a DP1 student who is very keen in fostering women’s rights and recently made a huge contribution by organising the 1 Billion Rising event.

The Aurora Gratitude Projects are humanitarian and educational initiatives that help children, refugees and other vulnerable citizens around the world. Through these projects, the descendants of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide seek to express thanks to the memory of those who helped save the victims of genocide, by providing educational initiatives and scholarships, grants to humanitarian projects and by promoting public awareness of humanitarian efforts. This year the Aurora Gratitude Scholarship expanded to include Yazidi, Ethiopian and Greek students, who will be chosen based on their demonstrated promise and potential both through academic performance and co-curricular engagement and will join the international families of UWCs across the world.