07 October 2014, 18:20
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Dilijan School Puts Armenia Back on the Map as an Educational Center

United World Colleges is an international educational movement around the world. There are 14 such institution training students from more than 140 countries and on October 4, 2014, Armenia officially became one of them.

It's exciting times in Dilijan, Armenia, as students buckle up to prepare for the new school on the block. It's the first international college to open up in Armenia since the Soviet time, and it goes by the name United World Colleges (UWC). UWC is a unique approach to education in the twenty-first century whose colleges and programmes, according to their website, "deliver a challenging and transformative educational experience to a diverse cross section of students, inspiring them to create a more peaceful and sustainable future." It's a groundbreaking idea that brings students from all over the world together in unique locations to study under the best teachers with the best resources.

The idea for UWC in Dilijan had been on the backburner for about five years. Finally, in 2012, plans for implementation were underway. The primary backers for the project were Russian-Armenian businessman from Moscow, Ruben Vardanian and his wife, Veronica Zonabend. Thanks to their efforts, Armenia is now the first country in the former Soviet Union offering a school belonging to the UWC system.

The school was opened to the Armenian Press and ImYerevan took the opportunity to get the inside scoop and become familiar with all the exciting new facilities this school has to offer.


A Renovated Music Department

Journalists first visited the newly renovated Dilijan music school. According to the director of the Development Fund of Dilijan, Arthur Hakobyan, they will continue to bear all expenditure of improvments of school. The main aim of the fund is  to make  Dilijan one of the international educational centers. The new Dilijan College is a strong foundation for achieving this goal.


Breathtaking Landscapes to Inspire Young Minds

The scenic mountain landscape juxtaposed against the modern UWC building are make for a unique sight to behold. The mountain view of Dilijan College UWC offers a small respite for the students partaking in the school's rigorous curriculum. The solidarity and vastness of the space encourages students to realize they have one, primary goal: to fully concentrate on their studies and self-development.

On the first floor there are atrium and the auditorium, where students can relax, discuss, and brainstorm. On the second floor, there are art studios, laboratories for chemistry, physics, and a library. The library  is a popular place for students because of the free and excellent wi-fi. There is also a gym, where students can keep themselves in good shape, despite their intense schedules. 



State of the Art Resources

The school's library is equipped with the latest technology: fast and efficient computers containing the latest software and brand new equipment for the science departments. There is also a special auditorium for presentations.

Director of UWC Dilijan, John Padefut, personally showed the possibility of a supernova projector screen, which works on  touchscreen system. By touching the screen, you can not only enter information, but also to take notes and write. The interactive screen improves students' learning experiences by allowing for more detail and opportunities for communicating their projects and research during lessons.


Bringing Much-Needed Diversity to a Region of Armenia

According to Deputy Director Sally Norris, the Dilijan campus of UWC currently holds 96 students from 49 different countries, 10 of which are Armenian. She says, "Other students came from different corners of the world - from Australia, India, China and ending with France, Israel and the United States." According to her, the candidates are selected according to their ability, and without the financial capacity of their families: "If the financial situation of the parents can not be fully or partially cover the cost of tuition, the College assumes these costs."

Admission to the college is through the National Committee of UWC and successful graduates of the program leave with an IB Diploma, a universally competitive degree.


It's a Beautiful Way to Promote Armenia's National Identity

The students' first two weeks are spent at introductory seminars, where they learn about Armenia; its peculiarities, its local mentalities, life and living conditions, as well as basic Armenian language skills. Children say "Barev dzez" (hello) when passing each other in the halls, "shnorakalutyun" when thanking others, and etcetra. 

Every student has the right to choose their own courses. One could easily combine humanities with chemistry or physics. Yelena a 17-year-old student from Russia chose Dilijan College UWC herself: "I've heard a lot about Armenia and I was very happy when I found out that I had been accepted. Education in this country is doubly comfortable because of the relationship between our two countries, as well as the fact that it is closest to the Russian UWC."

But  a student of the Indian village, Hubavali Vrushali, learned about Armenia for the first time when she was interviewed and received an offer. She arrived on August 19th and says the first thing that struck her it was its beauty.

It's an exciting start and soon, hundreds of students from different countries will be able to come to live in Armenia for high-quality education. An added bonus, however, is that once they leave Armenia -- regardless of their nationality -- they become unofficial ambassadors of Armenia in the world.


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