The World Comes to Dilijan: College opens with 96 international students

Juan Friedens from Portugal, Yelena Vasilyevna from Murmansk, Veronika Fugl from Germany, Lina Sim from Malaysia, Alina Khachatryan from Masis are among the 96 students studying at Armenia UWC (United World Colleges), at the new UWC Dilijan, one of the schools among a world chain of colleges, which opened its doors to various nations’ representatives in August.

Juan from Portugal said that he had heard of Armenia, knew where it was on the map, but not more.

“I had an opportunity to go to Canada, or Germany, but I chose Armenia, because it is very different from my country by culture, traditions and lifestyle. I am interested in various cultures of the world, Armenia as well. Knowing other cultures is very useful. It’s been more than a month that I am here, but I can surely claim that I made a correct decision. I love Dilijan,” he said.

96 students from 48 countries arrived in Dilijan on August 16-18, and they, according to the program, will spend the first two years of their studies here. UWC Dilijan College is an international joint educational complex for students from more than 50 countries.

It is a member of “United World Colleges” educational network and is among 14 colleges and schools, and opens paths for young scholars for the world’s best universities.

“Russian students were allocated 10 scholarships, and I thought, I could be in that list, I tried and here I am in UWC Dilijan,” said Yelena Vasilyevna from Murmansk.

The admissions procedure is realized regardless of parents’ financial status and is accompanied by a large scholarship program. One year tuition fee forms $35,000, however, most of the students will have an opportunity to study with help from up to a 100% scholarship. Admission to the school is carried out according to the rules set by UWC – by a system of UWC National Committees. All program courses are taught in English, but the program includes not only foreign languages but also Armenian language and literature and history courses.

“The college is located in a country of exceptionally beautiful nature and hospitable people. It can compete with any country in the world. As a founding director, I am excited about creating a new college which hosted students from 55 countries this year,” said founding director of UWC Dilijan, John Fatherfoot.

According to Fatherfoot, exceptional teaching lies in the background of exceptional schools – it injects abilities for life-long learning and constant desire to learn.

“Studies at UWC Dilijan intertwine possibilities given by modern technologies and traditional educational values. I, as well as all our founders and teachers, intend to make UWC Dilijan a world educational leader,” he said.

Plans are to raise the number of students to 650 by 2020. 17 Armenian citizens can study in the UWC system, 10 – at UWC Dilijan International School and seven at other country UWC colleges. 4 among the 20 teachers of the schools are Armenians.
The territory of the school is 88 acres, and is located near Dilijan National Park. The unique architectural building of the complex is in harmony with the surrounding nature. It consists of academic and administrative main buildings, dormitories, medical center, open-air sports fields, playgrounds and parks, indoor sports complex, employees’ housings, arts center and cafeteria, open air academic areas.

UWC Dilijan International School vice president Sali Noris said that besides core courses, students also learn Armenian which forms a mandatory part of the program.

“Foreign students were introduced to Armenian culture, learned Armenian dances and several Armenian words during the first two weeks. We value interaction of various cultures, we want people bearing these cultures to live together, and the results will be seen later, when they return to their countries after studying here, always remembering that they have a beloved or a dear friend in this or that country,” Noris said.

According to Noris, many people having reached success in business or politics are alumni of their colleges.

Fatherfoot mentioned that Dilijan International School mainly aims at turning Armenia into a global educational center, where hundreds of young people from all over the world will get an opportunity to study and become Armenia’s ambassadors throughout the world.

“Besides educational purposes, this project aims at boosting Dilijan’s social-economic state by adding local budget entries, contributing to decreasing unemployment, developing touristic and transportation substructures,” he said.

UWC’s mission is turning education into a power to unite people, nations and cultures in order to create a peaceful and stable future. The first Atlantic College was founded in Wales in 1962. It is a network of 14 schools and colleges in five continents of the world. It annually has more than 7,500 students and 50,000 alumni. It runs a National Committees network in 140 countries where applications are accepted.

UWC Dilijan College’s founding donor, Russian businessman Ruben Vardanyan and his wife, Veronika Zonabendi had the idea of founding a school yet in 2006. They established a fund called IDeA for developing the economy, tourism and other substructures in the region.

At one of his Armenian interviews Ruben Vardanyan mentioned that IDeA fund will implement charity programs which will have an impact on Armenia’s future and will contribute to transferring the current Armenian survival model into a prospering one.