Ángel Vilalta

Angel Vilalta ES'65-98F

Few names anywhere evoke the fond memories and affection that Ángel Vilalta’s does at School Year Abroad. He was the pillar of SYA Spain for more than three decades and an inspiring mentor to generations of students. Through thousands of classes, meals, conversations and walking tours, he challenged young Americans to rethink the world and their place in it – whether the subject was art, culture, language or politics. He taught the importance of reading the newspaper every day; he made current events, literature, and particularly art history so compelling that students wanted to stretch language ability to express thoughts. Students quickly began to “think in Spanish” because there was something they had to say.

The fire ignited by Ángel Vilalta still burns somewhere in us, long after we have left school or forgotten our Spanish. How extraordinary that he still teaches us." — Sam Heath ES'71

Remembering Ángel Vilalta

Angel  Vilalta and Russell Martin ES'69

The world lost one of its brightest lights with the passing of Ángel Vilalta in his beloved Barcelona on Saturday morning, June 5, 2021. He was a man who, for almost a century, was utterly devoted to his family and legion of friends, a man of great passion and intellect and grace. He became the heart and soul of School Year Abroad Barcelona — he was the school in many respects — and he will live on as the spirt of SYA Spain for decades to come. 

Ángel Vilalta Bernet was born on July 12, 1926, in the small Catalan city of Lleida, about 150 kilometers west of Barcelona. Like all natives of the region, Ángel grew up profoundly understanding that Catalunya was his true homeland, and that — as was the case in the Basque country — its language, history, and culture separated his region dramatically from the rest of Castilian-speaking Spain.

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Hear Ángel share the importance of SYA in his life in "Dropping Anchor #4" video and watch the intro to and presentation of the 2015 Honorary Alumni Award.

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Photos of Angel Vilalta


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Lasting Legacy

If you wish to honor Ángel's memory through SYA, please consider making a gift to The Campaign for SYA. Please add "In memory of Ángel" in the "Why I Give" box.