Dilinglish Project or Making Dilijan a Pioneering Town in Armenia

Article by Fernando (UWCD’18); he is from Granada, Spain. He is a self-driven changemaker and a passionate member of the UWC Dilijan community. Being interested in social movements he plans to study Politics & Government in Science Po in Paris, France.

Our college and its uniqueness is based on an extraordinary sense of community that we all share. We all appreciate our peers and teachers with whom we interact on a daily basis. However, we sometimes seem to overlook engaging the school staff into our community.

We state in our mission that we have the duty to transform the community that surrounds us, yet we do not pay enough attention to all those workers who make our experience possible with their tremendous dedication and hard-work. This is the thinking that occupied my mind for a long time, and eventually moved me to launch a new project: Dilinglish – a platform through which we are now attempting to make a change in our nearest community by teaching English to the staff children.

Everything started at the staff appreciation event organized by the students. I explained my intentions and plans to the staff members and gave them a survey so that we could grasp the interest among them. The response obtained was unbelievable: more than 100 children expressed their willingness and excitement to participate in the project. Meanwhile, I began “recruiting” students who would potentially become the teachers. Again, the response from the student body was exceptional since more than 30 people were willing to help.

After some weeks of preparation and organisation of the logistics, the children came to our school. We divided into different groups according to age and the lessons started. In total, we have six groups on Wednesdays and Sundays involving over 90 children overall.

What has impressed me the most is their enthusiasm and their real willingness to learn. The lack of use of English in Dilijan is real, but Dilinglish shows us all the will of Armenian families to overcome this barrier and, together with their profound and admirable culture, move forward and open up to the world.

In this sense, our college is the best catalyst to facilitate this change and make Dilijan a pioneering town in Armenia. For now, I have started to witness first hand how trust between our students and the children is starting to form and how the children are starting to feel more and more comfortable at the school.

Moreover, it is priceless to be thanked by many gardeners, canteen staff or cleaners, who truly appreciate what we are doing. I am satisfied with what we have done during these months, but I already envision the future growth of the project. Many staff expressed their desire to be students themselves and I would like to expand the project to them and include them in Dilinglish so that the impact is maximized.

This is my last year in the school, but I am convinced that I am leaving the project in good hands. Many first-year students have become deeply involved and will lead the project next year. I am hoping that in a few years, I will return to Dilijan only to find a more harmonious community and be proud that Dilinglish has played its part.