In the picture above, I'm standing in the Aljafería castle in Zaragoza, Spain this summer, surrounded by faculty from our four campuses. The castle tour served as a "brain break" in the midst of a multi-day conference spearheaded by our Head of Schools and Programs Dr. Aric Visser. The conference provided time and space to share ideas, learn new skills, and to further refine a curriculum that is mission-driven and student-centered. And as our faculty delved deeper and deeper into complex topics ranging from place-based and experiential pedagogy to competency-based learning, something truly unique would take place—a five-language "stop, drop and translate" break. English, French, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish flooded the room during each break as multilingual faculty reached a shared understanding. Each time it happened, I couldn't stop thinking—this is quintessential SYA.
With this year's class departing at the end of August to our campuses in Beijing, Rennes, Viterbo and Zaragoza, I'm excited for the many SYA moments that they are about to experience—meeting host families for the first time, navigating a new city, making their first (and certainly not last) language mishap, meeting classmates and being introduced to faculty who will support and shape their experience. And, especially at the beginning of their adventure, our students will have countless "stop, drop, and translate" moments of their own as they navigate and embrace a new language and culture.
As we kick off another year, I invite you to follow closely as we share everything from the classic SYA moments that have been taking place since our first class in 1964 to the new opportunities made possible by our innovative faculty and staff. For example, you will hear about a sociology course employing cartography techniques; a science course that centers around food and culture; and an environmental science course that explores geology in the heart of the Pyrenees. With these new SYA moments built upon our foundation of language learning and cultural immersion, SYA today is more SYA than ever.
Please join me, and all of us at SYA, as we welcome the Class of SYA 2019!