2019-2020 SYA Fund Results

We faced an unprecedented crisis that transformed how we live and learn. Many members of this extraordinary community — the extended SYA family — rallied and delivered an incredible response to SYA and the SYA Fund.  While we are still calculating the gifts received through June 30, 2020, we wanted to share some results that truly highlight the strength of our community.



We are humbled by the many notes of positivity and reasons for support that accompanied donations this year, especially in the month of June. 






Throughout the month of June we featured snapshots and stories on the virtual hub of our special campaign 'Around the World in 30 Days,' and we're so grateful to everyone who followed along throughout the month over social media, adding many of their own SYA stories! A few of your favorites are shared below; see some of what you make possible each year!


Meghan Lewis Roof, SYA Spain Resident Director

“While it was extremely difficult to have the students leave so suddenly and months before they normally would, it was so nice to continue to see them during their time online. I worked with a couple of student volunteers to put together video assemblies and in those videos so many students (and members of the SYA Spain team) shared clips of themselves at home in quarantine — singing, playing instruments, playing with their dogs, giving advice of Spanish movies to watch, etc. Getting to see the students in these clips really was a lifeline for all of us as it was such a difficult transition to suddenly not have them here, and for them not to be together. Plus, now we all have those video assemblies that we can watch when we are missing each other.”

Pat Scanlon, SYA Italy Resident Director

“When the kids had departed and we turned to the online program, it hit me that I had never felt more outward and explicit support and trust from U.S. families, the students and our host families. That support came in the form or trusting us with the students and our ability to communicate effectively amid the changing realities facing us. Mostly, it came in the form of letting the students experience our school as long as they could and the students who wanted to get the most out of everything, fearing they might have to go soon. It came from emails and messages of appreciation from all quarters. Everyone worked immensely hard, and everyone was appreciative.”

Mina Qadir, SYA France Resident Director

“After students left so suddenly and spent two and half months online with us, the most memorable moment that will stay with me, is our last assembly on Zoom on May 22nd. We (faculty and staff) had prepared a message to the class, but little did we know that they also had prepared a surprise for us. They had made a video in which each student thanked a faculty/staff member for their year in France. Their messages were very caring and thoughtful. It was amazing to see 33 students, one after the other, expressing their gratitude."

John McLoughlin, SYA China Resident Director

“To say that the last six months have been tumultuous for SYA China students would be a dramatic understatement: we were the first SYA campus to hurriedly evacuate; we watched plans to move to our sister campus in Viterbo evaporate; and we transitioned from the indescribably rich experience of Beijing’s big classroom to our living rooms at home and online learning to complete the year. Throughout this process and all of the uncertainty it involved, I remain incredibly impressed with our students’ strength, resilience, and balance — and incredibly grateful for the support from the SYA family of parents, host families, faculty, colleagues, and alumni. As we concluded our year in late-May with Zoom celebrations, I was left with a number of ambivalent thoughts and feelings. A few remain clear and focused, untarnished. First and foremost is the power of the student experience, the potentially transformative nature of student learning in China; our students have expressed this eloquently, in their own ways. As we concurrently experienced manifest social tensions in US and a nadir in US-China relations, the importance of SYA programs has become even more compelling for me. While we had much to be thankful for, we have much still to do.”

SYA Group Goodbyes

“I can still remember the day we were told we would have to leave Italy within the next few days like it was yesterday. It was a moment I will probably remember for the rest of my life, but when I think about it, it isn’t the sadness or shock that left a lasting impression on me. It was the sense of community. The way that hearing those words and knowing what they meant for us led us closer together, knowing that this year would come to an end early, is a feeling that I won’t forget.” 

—Frances L. IT'20, Alvarez Global Scholar

SYA Alums Love to Gather

The SYA experience brings our alumni together in a way nothing else can. Whether in person, or now virtually, SYAers are keeping in touch. Even our inaugural Spain Class of ’65 still meets to catch up!

Teachers Making an Impact

SYA faculty member Ángel Vilalta (SYA Spain 1964–1998) was our first non-U.S. hire and was critical to the creation and early success of SYA. He opened the eyes of his students by impressing upon them the fundamental importance of culture, in all its manifestations, in their lives. The passionate teaching and compelling lessons of all of SYA's amazing teachers remain in the hearts of each SYA alum throughout the years. 

“These experiences would not be possible without the support of SYA’s hard-working, dedicated teachers. They are the reason I am so honored to be this year’s Ángel Vilalta Scholar. Through the support and encouragement of my teachers at SYA, I gained confidence in myself and my ability to take on unfamiliar challenges.” 

— Ava R. ES'20, Ángel Vilalta Scholar

The Glue of the SYA Experience

The backbone of the SYA experience is our network of amazing host families. Whether in the kitchen, on the road, or just hanging out together, SYAers are welcomed by their host families with open arms. Pictured above are some of this year's SYA Spain students out and about with their host families! Do you have a favorite memory with your host family?

No Shortage of Places to Explore

Pictured: SYA Spain students hiked in the Blanco River Canyon, SYA China students hiked to Sledge Hammer Peak, SYA Italy students walked the 10K Via Francigena, SYA France students hiked Ménez-Hom.

Hiking is a favorite SYA pastime, and our students regularly go on hikes to explore their surroundings and get some exercise!


Pictured: A group of students at the “flea market” in Clignancourt, Paris; SYA France students visit the Hall of Mirrors and the gardens at Versaille; Serena W. and Imani H. learn about sea life at the aquarium in San Sebastián; SYA Spain visits Bilbao 

Ask any SYAer and they will tell you that road trips and excursions were the highlight of their year abroad!