UWC Made Me More Confident

At first when I came back, I felt a bit shy, because I thought that the new students weren't going to know who I am, and it would be strange to speak to them. Fortunately, it turned out to be the opposite; they were the ones to come up to me, talk, ask questions. Now I can say that back here I might have made some new friends. I don’t know how they are doing on their academics or in their lives here, but what I know is that they look more relaxed than us, they look more organised and they know what they are doing. Most of them were like, wow, how was it during your time been here. And I had so many things to tell them: for example, that back then there was only Riverside, that we didn’t have the sport facilities or that the dining hall was not open at first.

Here, when I said I was an alum, most of them were like oh okay, but when I told them I was a first generation, they were very interested. They asked me about how we started the student café, because I was one of the members who had started building these things. Now I can see that so many things have changed but it still looks the way we constructed it. It felt very nice to see that while people are using it as we had built it, it is growing and getting better. It has been my favourite place on campus all two years.

The Student Café at UWC Dilijan is called 4-6 cups. The legend of this name goes back to the first year of the College, when some construction works were still in progress, and the official party line was that everything would be ready in 4-6 weeks. Eventually, the deadlines were extended, and 4-6 weeksbecame a funny expression to show that something is going to take a lot while more than promised.

Life after UWC Dilijan

After my graduation I wanted to study Maths and politics when I left UWC. I went to Bennigton College, although at first, I had my concerns, as I knew they have a strong music and arts programme, but wasn’t sure about the sciences. Turned out to be an excellent choice for me as here I have the freedom to explore different fields. After the graduation, I might apply for an MBA, that’s why I am now concentrating my studies on Maths and Economics, but at the same time here I have the opportunity to take music classes.

When I finish my studies here, I would love to start some development projects in Iran. When I went back home after graduation, I realised that I loved being back in Iran, back in my city, Tehran. Although after UWC It feels a little strange to talk to people that you used to talk to, because you now are more open to some ideas that other people are not aware of, or you know more about different cultures. For example, back home maybe there is a little knowledge about how living in Latin American countries or in Africa is like, so there are certain stereotypes. But when you come to UWC, it changes you in different ways. So, going back people might compliment you with things that might sound a little racist or sexist, and you don’t know how to react to that. So that was the moment I realised that I had changed.

Sian (our English teacher) was always telling me that after UWC and after IB you can do anything, and I came to realise that it is true, because here we had to deal with a lot of projects going on and it was an intense experience. After UWC I felt very comfortable going to college, Bennigton, because I felt like I know what I am doing and how to manage and organise my own life.

There is a big community of UWC Dilijan at Bennington – students from Russia, El Salvador, Czech Republic, Armenia, etc. and we see each other almost every day. Also, there is a wider UWC community, and we try to keep in touch during UWC gatherings. We talk about our schools, compare and share experiences and realise the IB has been tough on everyone.

After studying here I learned to be more confident. I remember back when I was so shy and didn’t initiate anything. Now, it has all changed; I tried to start the football club that we have, or I tried to initiate a project to help the nursery home for elder people, for which the idea came after being in a UWC school: If I want to do something, I can start it up.

Here at UWC Dilijan, I learned that you can actually do things rather than just thinking about it. Another thing I took from here is the knowledge of different cultures, which I find very important. When we were here, we were trying to reduce some academic time to have more cultural activities. And here we always learned about different people and their culture, religion and anything. So, I am really proud of myself now: when I go to my college and I see others, I realise I know more about their background and their cultures and it feels like I have traveled around the world. Now I have a better picture of the world. Everything that I learned here - world history, English, writing essays

and other basic things - really help me a lot now. Back home I learned about Iranian history and it was never about different countries and different political leaders. So these various things combined together have given me a different picture of the world.

I don’t regret anything, but if I could go back to as a student here, I would probably put less pressure on the academic part and more on the cultural aspect. I know that academic is really important, and I was one of the students who was really strict about it and like having highest grade, but now I realise that I should just find a place that suits me. Another thing that I really miss right now is the communication between students and teachers, because in the college most teachers come from different cities, they have their class and they leave until the next class. But here I was going to teachers’ houses, I was having dinner with them and conversations, and it was more of a friendship. I am so glad that I am still in touch with some of them.