On 26 May 104 students from 63 countries — the third generation of the UWC Dilijan students graduated from the school and set off on their new journey. As the alumni that were back in Dilijan to support their friends and to do summer internships say themselves, graduation is probably the best and the worst day of the entire UWC experience. It is a culmination of a journey they started two years before, when they were “just clueless teenagers with big dreams”, and now they’re about to go out and face the world with all these new tools that will make your them come true.
The ceremony was full of touching speeches from the students and staff and beautiful musical, dance and poetry performances. As the traditions goes, the concert was opened with a dance performance by all the second year Armenian students and a song by Komitas sang by the chemistry teacher Elizabeth Sepetdjian.
Kathi from Germany and Mauro from Costa Rica, from the graduating class gave emotional speeches on their time here and the way this experience shaped them into what they have become. Katie, “Life here is home. This school and its people…they cast a magical spell that make you forget that we are from different nations. You may call us ignorant idealists, but I’d argue we are simple believers. We believe in the gift of ideas far beyond idealism, we believe in the strength of actions far beyond activism, we believe in the power of language far beyond words”.
Mauro added, “How to forget the treasures Armenia has shown to us? This country has so much to offer, so much that is hidden and is yet to be discovered... Distance is nothing when people mean a lot. That’s why I can say for sure, it’s not a ‘good-bye’, it’s a ‘see you soon’”.
Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia and a true changemaker, also attended the ceremony and in his keynote speech called the college a source of hope and inspiration, of enthusiasm and optimism and a symbol of Armenia’s future. He expressed his hope that the students and their families would return to Armenia, “a country with big soul, with big hope and big endeavor to human rights, democracy, rule of law and tolerance” many times in the future. This is the time of the year when they say goodbye not only to classes and grades, but also to people who have become their new home, to the country, the school and “the beautiful hills that have seen you grow in every single way possible” and to an experience that marked the start of a new life.
The ceremony ended with the graduating class standing on the stage singing “I lived” and chanting “I owned every second that this world could give; I saw so many places, the things that I did” right before they exited the hall, marking the end of another cycle at UWC Dilijan.
Graduates of the UWC Dilijan Class of 2018 will set out on various paths. Some of them are taking a gap year and are going to travel and explore the world, to work in NGOs in their home countries, study in educational programmes such as “Global citizen year” or to stay in Armenia for the “Enterprise Dilijan” programme supported by UWC Dilijan and IDeA Foundation. Others are heading to university. What’s clear is that their journey in UWC Dilijan doesn’t end with the graduation, it evolves to a new stage. And in the years to come they are always going to be welcome back in Dilijan as Homecomers, to say hi or to support their friends going through the same experience.