As we get to the end of January, I look back at the beginning of this term, the final term for our Class of 2023 and my own final term at this wonderful community. During the break we worried whether the expansion of COVID cases in China was going to affect us and discussed contingency plans (fearing going back to the darkest days of the pandemic).
I am delighted to share with you that, although it was good for us to discuss contingency plans, we have not had to implement them. The return to campus was remarkably unremarkable, and our term started smoothly. In fact, one teacher shared with me that she was surprised at how her class did not want to ease into the rhythm of the term, but rather go full steam ahead straight away!
During the December UWC Dilijan Board of Governors meeting, I used the word “normalcy” to describe the state of the school, and I will use it again today. It is easy to miscalculate the impact that the pandemic has had on all of us in many ways. We kept our community safe, and while doing so the measures we had to put in place affected the very fibre of our community. Being able to engage with our host town, to experience the opportunities available off campus, not having to worry constantly about the potential further disruption that a new outbreak would cause… The academic literature is starting to offer reviews of the pandemic impact at all levels. No surprise, therefore, that living a “normal” life in a “normal” school term feels so good.
We are, of course, affected by the blockade of the Lachin Corridor connecting Armenia with Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh. Many members of our community have relatives or friends there, and one of our Class of 2023 students, Nana, is currently trapped there. Today she participated in one of our Peace and Me series events, reflecting with Artak, one of our Global Politics teachers, on what it means to be suffering the current situation and also how the history of the region and its past conflicts has shaped them. We can’t wait for that crisis to end and for Nana to be back with us.
Our Class of 2023 has started to receive news about their university admissions, and we have much to celebrate, as the value of our students is recognised by universities worldwide. The relief in those students who went for Early Action/Decision and have a place already is visible, as they face their final term much more relaxed, though knowing that they have to meet their predicted grades and/or the conditions of their offers. Since I am a somewhat supernumerary member of the Class of 2023 myself, I would like to conclude this post by sharing with you a personal update. In previous town halls I promised that I would share what my next professional role would be, and I am happy to share that I will be joining the Council of International Schools. Yes, the name will ring a bell to many of you, as we became a CIS Accredited School back in July 2022.
I have worked as a volunteer for CIS in different capacities for over a decade, and will be joining as a School Support and Evaluation Officer, supporting schools becoming members and during their accreditation process. It is a significant change for me, as I will be heading back home (Málaga, Spain) and working both remotely and travelling to schools. Those of you who know me will be able to imagine the magnitude of the change: I have lived abroad for 21 years, the last 17 years living in a UWC campus.
I know that I will miss being part of such a community, and also know that I have the opportunity to learn from other schools all over the world, while also being close to my family and my beloved Mediterranean. I am delighted to be able to remain in international education and excited about the upcoming changes. Until then, I will both do my utmost to ensure a smooth transition to set the stage for Adam Armanski to join the college, and to enjoy my final term at the school and in this gorgeous country.