A Journey of Change and Growth - Story of UWC Dilijan alumna Victoria

UWC Dilijan Alumna Victoria Longhi talks about her involvement with Sky School - an educational initiative for refugees.

Victoria Longhi (UWCD'16), upon graduating from UWC Dilijan, spent a year working and volunteering in Denmark and abroad, afterwards started a degree in Philosophy at University College London is currently a student at International Social and Public Policy with Politics at The London School of Economics and Political Science. Passionate about education and community empowerment, Victoria spoke to UWC Dilijan about her involvement with Sky School, a groundbreaking educational startup for refugees, and reflected upon the decisions that brought her from UWC Dilijan to where she is now.

Victoria’s most characteristic trait is her passion for education, social policy and positive changemaking, especially in the field of refugees and asylum seekers. Victoria is, in the words of Kurth Hahn, not just a dreamer, but above all, a committed doer, and her passion extends way beyond the lecture hall.

After working with Trampoline House, an independent community center providing support for refugees and asylum seekers in Copenhaguen, upon moving to London, Victoria started volunteering for Sky School. Founded in 2016 by Mia Eskelund and Polly Akhurst, Sky School is a global high school that provides access to high quality secondary education to refugee, displaced and disadvantaged youth aged 16 and above. Currently working with 100 students in 3 different continents, Sky School ran a pilot short course in late 2017 in Jordan, Kenya and Greece, and is now further developing our full, two-year curriculum.

Victoria started her involvement with Sky School in 2017 as Events and Campaigns Volunteer, and has since then planned fundraising campaigns, coordinated events and collaborated with their marketing strategy, collaborating with the entire process of setting up a charity. Reflecting upon her experience with Sky School, Victoria, also drawing from her memories as part of the pioneering generation of UWC Dilijan, stressed the importance of working with a start-up as opposed to an established organisation, as it gives you more responsibility and gives you more opportunities for growth. As she said, her impact with Sky School has been small in comparison to the impact that Sky School has had on her, both in terms of skills and at the emotional level. Beyond Sky School, Victoria has also been able to use the skills learned in the multiple other initiatives that she is involved in, such as Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF Denmark and the London School of Economics Student Action for Refugees initiative.

However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg of the journey that Victoria embarked on after graduating from UWC Dilijan. And, the moral of the story is that it is not necessary to have a fixed professional goal or even a clear idea of what to do after graduating from UWC.

“We can always change our path. For example, I changed my degree from Philosophy to Social Policy. But this does not mean that I regret taking Philosophy- the pieces will link up. You just need to be open and try things. If your course in life is a straight line, I am not sure that your end-point will be as fulfilling. Allow choices to be a culmination of chances and random events”, says Victoria.

From Denmark to Dilijan and London, stopping all around the world on her way, from the IB to pure Philosophy and Social Policy, from waking up in the morning to cycling to lectures, charity runs and Sky School events all over London and beyond, Victoria’s journey is a clear example that change is the only constant, an education is the most powerful tool for change.

Author Lucia Gonzalez Mantecon, UWCD'16