DILIJAN, Armenia — On May 26, the UWC Dilijan Class of 2018 — 104 students from 63 countries — bid farewell to the school and Armenia and set off on their new journey of adulthood. The third UWC Dilijan graduation was attended by Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, who delivered the keynote speech.
In his speech, he called the school a source of hope and inspiration, of enthusiasm and optimism and a symbol of Armenia’s future. He expressed his hope that the students and their families would return to Armenia, “a country with big soul, with big hope and big endeavor to human rights, democracy, rule of law and tolerance” many times in the future.
The ceremony was full of touching speeches from the students and staff and musical, dance and poetry performances by the students. The concert was opened, as is tradition, with a dance performance by all the second year Armenian students and a Komitas song sung by chemistry teacher Elizabeth Sepetdjian.
One of the most important parts of the ceremony was the celebration of the donor-student relationship, as 96 percent of UWC Dilijan students study on full or partial scholarships. Workneh, from Ethiopia, shared his story of coming from a family of farmers with a very modest background but with great aspirations for education. He mentioned all the teachers and mentors who had helped him throughout his life to strive for education, and especially the donor who paid for him to study at UWC Dilijan, and he responded to their support by earning the best possible grades and a scholarship to study from Harvard University.
Graduating students, Katie from Germany and Mauro from Costa Rica, devoted their speeches to recalling everything that the college had given to them and how it had shaped their characters.
Katie said, “Life here is home. This school and its people…they cast a magical spell that make you forget that we are from different nations. You may call us ignorant idealists, but I’d argue we are simple believers. We believe in the gift of ideas far beyond idealism, we believe in the strength of actions far beyond activism, we believe in the power of language far beyond words.”