Yerevan /Mediamax/. On May 27, UWC Dilijan celebrated the graduation of its second generation of students, bidding farewell to 87 students from 50 countries who are leaving the college to explore the world.
“You are ready to change the world,” said Ruben Vardanyan, cofounder of UWC Dilijan wishing good luck to the graduates in his welcoming speech.
In parting with the Class of ‘17, all 700 guests at the event-packed Graduation Day were united with the UWC spirit.
The morning began with “UWC Dilijan Experiences”, a series of activities created to engage the parents, guests and donors in order to demonstrate the inspirational and experiential learning process that the college employs. The students and teachers presented activities based around English, Spanish, Physics, History, Economics, Science and Maths, installed a Visual Arts exhibition, held a theatre performance and a fashion show designed by one of the graduates, put on a martial arts display and a game of football.
The Graduation Day continued with the Aurora Dialogues, which is part of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Events taking place in Yerevan and Dilijan on 26-28 May. Under the title “Galvanising the World”, the entire UWC Dilijan community and all the visitors were invited to attend a series of panel discussions and breakout sessions during which leading international humanitarians, academics and philanthropists tackled the problems of ensuring education for all, positioning the role of the media in raising the world’s humanitarian issues, protecting human rights, creating role models, overcoming adversity and empowering refugees.
The United World Colleges movement and the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative share much in common in terms of their drive to raise public awareness of the most pressing humanitarian problems, and at the same time seeking to generate practical action which can help to resolve these problems.
Among the inspiring panel speakers were Marguerite Barankitse, 2016 Aurora Prize Laureate and Founder of Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital; Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Laureate, Liberian Peace Activist, Women’s Rights Advocate and Aurora Prize Selection Committee Member; Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford; Haifa Dia Al-Attia, CEO, Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development; Narine Abgaryan, writer and philanthropist and others.
Speaking on the “Education for all” panel, Jens Waltermann, Executive Director of UWC International, explained that the UWC’s approach is about providing the most talented students, irrespective of their social and financial circumstances, with a high quality education capable of not only directly benefiting them and their families, but also having a positive impact on the entire community. “The UWC mission is to inspire young people to become community leaders, to realise this potential and to move into action. No pressure on any graduates today, but this what we are looking for in you”, he said.
The programme also included presentations by student teams from three of UWC Dilijan’s sister colleges, namely UWC Mahindra College from India, Waterford Kamhlaba UWC, a pan-African school from Swaziland, and UWC Robert Bosch College from Germany. The proposals were part of the Aurora Humanitarian Project for UWC Schools and Colleges, which called on current UWC students worldwide to develop initiatives that could address some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues. The winner of the prize was the team from UWC Robert Bosch College for their DoGood project, which focused on providing an online platform on which refugees can sell their own upcycled, handmade products and helping them to gain education, qualifications and job training.
At the same time, according to the decision of the jury, voiced by Nubar Afeyan, co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and founding partner of UWC Dilijan, all three teams of students received €4,000 for the further development of their projects. President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Vartan Gregorian handed the prizes to the students.
With the renowned academic among the distinguished guests of the Graduation Day, UWC Dilijan took the opportunity to pay tribute to him for donating four dozen books to the UWC Dilijan library. Veronika Zonabend announced that the Boards of Governors and Trustees of UWC Dilijan had decided that the college library will from now on be known as “The Vartan Gregorian Learning Center”.
The Graduation Day ceremony ended with some beautiful performances by UWC Dilijan students, all united with the idea of parting and transferring the legacy, for example a group of students performed the song “History” by the band One Direction.
“I hope to see you back here in Dilijan as alumni, as guests and one day as parents, who continue the cycle”, said Veronika Zonabend in her address to the graduates. The ceremony also included inspiring and touching speeches from the Head of College Denise Davidson, representatives of the staff, the first and second years.