This year UWC Dilijan launched a series of internships in cooperation with local counterparts in Dilijan and Yerevan. A group of youngsters consisting of current students and alumni returned to Armenia to participate in a number of research projects, aimed at taking a closer look at what Dilijan offers in the way of hospitality and at the same time fostering social development in the town.
Manana and Edita are first-generation alumni of UWC Dilijan; after graduation in May 2016, they were both accepted to universities in the US. And just one year on, they are back in Dilijan reminiscing with their old friends and sharing stories of their life at college with the new generation of UWC Dilijan students.
The project they are involved in is dedicated to researching the community cafes in Dilijan, taking into consideration international experience and examples. One of the objectives of the research is to contribute to the establishment and advancement of the youth Café #2. The Café serves as an educational and social platform in the town, giving the opportunity to local youngsters to gain experience in the field of hospitality and open future career opportunities.
"The way Dilijan has changed is more than impressive."
“The little input we can have in Dilijan’s progress is the possibility to give back to the city which hosted us for two years. Besides, Dilijan has become our cosy place for reunions”, said Manana. Edita echoes the sentiment: “It wasn’t until I was in Dilijan that I realised my first year of university is gone. Dilijan is the beginning of a super interesting journey I picked for myself, and it is always heart-warming to come back to the roots. Dilijan is what we have in common with my alumni friends, and we try to do as much as we can to engage in the process of improving the town”.
Together they started their research project by collecting source data through surveying consumers and suppliers. The survey is aimed at discovering how often people go to cafes, what are the main issues that prevent them from going out and what suggestions they have for the development for the hospitality field. At the same time, they worked on figuring out the ways service providers could make their businesses more attractive for prospective customers. During their research, Manana and Edita were trying to tackle pressing socio-economic issues through simple inquiries about food services. Since the establishment of the College, Dilijan has undergone major infrastructure changes and interactions between the local population and the international student body have evolved, opening up new opportunities for the town and contributing to the revival of the town as a cultural and educational centre of the country.
A year after graduation day, the two alumni were able to offer a perspective from the outside: “The way Dilijan has changed is more than impressive. Though the survey results are not out yet, one cannot deny the obvious growth of the hospitality services, which is having a big impact on the overall development of our beautiful town,” says Edita.
Midway through their research project, the girls were able to make an initial assessment, noting that it was clear that Dilijan had grown into a town full of new ideas and platforms for dialogues. The research revealed that people in Dilijan not only enjoyed the changes, but had also started demanding higher standards, promoting an environment of natural and healthy competition.
As the tradition of summer internships goes on, hopefully more alumni will come back to Dilijan to follow the progress of the town and play their part in this significant advancement.