UWC Dilijan starts new academic year, celebrating seventh birthday

UWC Dilijan, September 2021

DILIJANUWC Dilijan marked its seventh birthday on the day of the 30th anniversary of Armenian Independence. It coincided with the UN International Day of Peace and UWC Day an annual global celebration of the UWC mission and values, which takes place on September 21 every year.

Tree planting in honor of Vartan Gregorian

UWC Dilijan held a number of events for its community to mark the day, including a tree planting in the school garden in memory of friend and supporter of UWC Dilijan Vartan Gregorian, the president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. Crataegus gregorianii, a new peculiar species, was discovered by E. Gabrielian and M. Sargsyan in the Aparan floristic district of Armenia and was named after Gregorian. UWC Dilijan is proud to have the Vartan Gregorian Learning Centre at the school’s library. 

The school’s Community Celebration “Reimagine Tomorrow” included the participation of UWC Dilijan founders Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend.

“After the school was built, one of the most emotional moments for me was when I first saw here, at UWC Dilijan, the first cohort of students from all over the world – 94 kids who had the courage to dream. When we walk around Dilijan today, we can see the impact done over the last years. I believe that our students will become ambassadors of our vision and ambassadors of Armenia: they have passion, patience and resilience to fulfill it, they have big hearts and sympathy for other people,” said Zonabend.

UWC Dilijan has welcomed 220 students from more than 80 countries for its current academic year. The college’s teaching staff consists of 36 teachers from 15 countries. The total number of staff members this year is 78 with 44 from Armenia. Many students continue availing themselves of the opportunity to study at UWC Dilijan thanks to the generous support of private donors, corporate entities and organizations: 20 percent of students are on a full scholarship, and 60 percent of students are on a partial scholarship.

The academic performance of the Class of 2021, whose education was most disrupted by both the global pandemic and the Artsakh War, was the strongest in the college’s history. The pass rate was 99.1 percent.

Despite the pandemic, our students found a way to give back to the community. During the summer, Edik Nazaryan from Stepanavan and Andranik Galoyan from the US, with the support of the Stepanavan entertainment and culture center, organized a two-week English and math program in Stepanavan in the Lori Province of Armenia. “We were delighted with the response we got and the interest in the program. It was a rewarding experience for us to share our knowledge with the kids who, like ourselves, are thirsty for knowledge,” said the duo.

UWC Dilijan now has six generations of alumni 620 graduates from 105 countries. They continue to give back to the UWCD community with their time and talent. Twenty percent of alumni volunteer, for example, at the summer camp Just Dilijan It. Others volunteer with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and other school activities. 

“There is a common thread that unites the vastly different experiences that I had at UWC Dilijan: growth,” says graduate Emilio Rosas Gutierrez from Mexico. “I came to Armenia with a firm conviction that, regardless of the challenges I knew I would face, I would take in all that our host country had to offer. I pursued this mission starting with my first term, I encountered the hospitality of the Armenian people and made lasting friendships. In the end, we all saw our efforts come to fruition. A year after the pandemic hit, I received the news of where I would be going after graduation. I was generously awarded the Woodruff Scholarship from Emory University in Atlanta. It was the challenges I faced at UWCD, and the growth that resulted from them, which positioned me as an example of the type of person my scholarship is awarded to.”

Sofia Shapiro

Sofia Shapiro

Sofia Shapiro is from Moscow, Russia. She graduated from the historical faculty of the Moscow State University in 2012 and has been working in PR and communications ever since. In 2019, she moved with her family to Armenia to work for the communications department of UWC Dilijan. She has two children. In her spare time, she likes to make silver jewelry.

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