The article was prepared by Aspram (UWC Pearson College, '17) and Sara (UWC Costa Rica, '17), two alumni who did internships in the Communications department of UWC Dilijan in December.
Having studied in Armenia for two years, Pedro (UWCD’17, Spain), made such a deep connection with the country that he decided not to miss out on a chance to visit the place again. After graduation, Pedro converted his IB scores into a Spanish diploma allowing him to study medicine in the northern part of Spain, close to his home. Despite the intense academic demands, Pedro shared his story of how he decided to revisit Armenia:
“I was in a bus coming back from the university when I read a post made by one of my friends about an opportunity to travel to Armenia with the Erasmus+ project called “Empowering Young People from Rural Areas”. The project was running from the 7-17 November and I was reading the post only on the 4 November! First it seemed totally crazy to me to plan a trip in 3 days and miss two weeks of classes, but I couldn’t resist. After talking to my parents and getting permission from the dean of my faculty I finally arrived here”.
Being back at school for the first time after graduation, Pedro reflects on how the experience has helped him at University:
“I cannot compare the international aspect of the two institutions, because most of the students at my university are Spanish. However, I can say that living the super-intense experience with 200 people for two years, teaches you the art of dealing with people. It’s because of this that I’m now able to recognise the diversity among different personalities and profiles. This is not to be meant in a stereotypic way, but to say that living with people from different cultures teaches you to take things with more patience and respect, which you need throughout your whole life. In the university I’m much more relaxed and patient, I don’t judge people and I think this is also something that the UWC experience has taught me”.
When asked whether or not he has further plans involving the UWC mission and its values, Pedro explains what life after UWC means to him, and talks about what motivates him to change the world in his own manner:
“I think it’s very important to understand that the UWC experience is over. This is not to say that you should stop living the mission or stop carrying the UWC spirit, but to accept that when the two years are finished, you have to move on. Realizing this, I still want to help people, which is why I am studying medicine. Moreover, I think there is nothing more UWC than this. I always wanted to help people, and one of the things I understood at UWC Dilijan is that you don’t need to help people by changing the world dramatically. Instead, you can change things in your own way. I am happy to sit in a clinic and help people with the flu without being treated like a hero. Generally, it’s the willingness to impact the lives of people that’s so important, however that may be.”
One of the most valuable experiences that Pedro considers he got from UWC is through the people who he lived with:
“As much as the school might be cool or the programme might be cool, what makes this experience unforgettable is the people with whom you live every day. In addition to that is the realization that there are actually no borders: my best friends are from Georgia, Armenia, Russia, and while at first we might seem to come from distant cultures, by living together we discovered many similarities we have in different aspects, what in fact connects us as human beings. In other words, the unforgettable experience comes to life with the lessons you learn living with these amazing people”.
Pedro considers the discovery of Armenia as one of his biggest achievements. He has Armenian friends whom he met outside the college, and taking a Russian AB Initio course as part of the IB program, has been of great help on his way of connecting with the country:
“It was essential for me to understand Armenia, because as much as we live in UWC Dilijan, it is an international environment and not the Armenian experience. I wanted to integrate with the Armenian community and Russian was a big part of it as it was necessary to communicate with Armenians. As a result, Russian is one of the things that I am taking with me throughout my life. Armenia is one of the big discoveries I made during the time spent here! I consider myself from a country where people are generally nice, but when you come to Armenia, it doesn’t compare. People here are not just nice: you can become friends, “brothers” with Armenians in about five minutes. It is amazing how fast you become a Pedro Jan instead of Pedro here. When you visit Armenian families they offer you whatever they have: they open a chocolate box that you know they have been keeping for a long time for special occasions, but they willingly offer it to you with an open heart, without any hesitation. Armenians are very hospitable – something that comes very naturally to them – and this has been the most fascinating part of my experience!”
Finally, when asked to reflect on what he has experienced after his arrival in the campus, Pedro reflects on the change:
“Of course, it is different from when I left, but objectively speaking, I don’t think the school has changed that much. There is especially a shift in the dynamics between people who did not get on well with each other previously, and are close friends now – I am very happy to see that. It is also odd to see your first years as second years now: you see how they have matured and you ask “when did this happen?”. But in the end, it is still your home….”
Below, Pedro's cover of a song by a Russian singer Zemfira. Pedro started learning Russian in the first year of his studies in Dilijan. Two years fast forward, and he is covering songs in Russian.