Geopolitics of Spain

Summer 2019

This just in: Cádiz makes it onto The New York Times list of 52 places to go in 2019!

We are pleased to announce that there will be a new Adult Enrichment seminar held in Spain, but this time in Cádiz (Andalucía). This five-day seminar, designed for adults who are comfortable learning in Spanish, will survey Spain's unique geography and natural resources and then examine their impact on culture, politics and the environment. As always with history, we must examine the past to understand the present, but emphasis will be placed on a variety of present-day topics such as trade, immigration, the fishing industry and military strategy.

Why Cádiz? Past seminars have been held at our school in Zaragoza; however, this year we feel the change in location will enhance the curriculum. Cádiz  is an ideal province for studying geopolitics, encompassing: largest port in the Mediterranean (trade, immigration, fishing), oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe (culture),  American Naval base Rota, and the Strait of Gibraltar, confluence of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, gateway between Europe and Africa. 

In addition to lively classes, led by SYA Spain's own Antonio López Piña, there will be excursions, tours, guest speakers and a handful of social activities planned throughout the week. Two of the highlights are a day trip to Ceuta (Africa) and an authentic Flamenco show.

The seminar is open to SYA alums, their parents and relatives, as well as high school Spanish teachers.

Help spread the word!

 If you would like to help spread the word, you can follow this link to download a flyer to print and share. Thanks for your help in promoting these opportunities for SYA alumni, parents and friends, as well as teachers from our sending schools! 

Seminar Details

Course Topics

The strategic position of Spain – end of the Mediterranean, gateway to the Atlantic and bordering Africa – has conditioned the political, social and economic life in our country throughout history. From when the Phoenicians installed an economic colony in Cadiz more than 3000 years ago, through the time the United States established some of its most important military bases, the Iberian Peninsula has had to face many challenges derived from its geographical location.

In this course we will explore the most important conflicts and challenges that currently affect Spain and especially this area of the province of Cádiz. The most important are:

Morocco: immigration funnel
The proximity of Morocco with the Spanish coasts has a special relevance when it comes to establishing bilateral agreements between both countries. During the course we will approach this dependent relationship in which Europe, through Spain, brings economic privileges to Morocco provided that the kingdom of Moha II is able to control migratory flows and to establish a policy of stopping terrorism.

Morón and Rota. Military bases for urgent intervention
These military bases occupy the north gate of the Strait. Their ability to provide rapid-response expeditionary forces allows immediate access to all of North Africa. They also serve as support for the NATO bases in Turkey tasked with monitoring the Middle East.

The port of Algeciras. Large scale legal and illegal trade
The geostrategic importance of this infrastructure makes it the largest port in Spain in terms of total merchandise traffic, as well as the largest port in the Mediterranean Sea. Intelligence officers and the Spanish police scrutinize their containers because in addition to the legal goods, the highest percentage of cocaine entering Europe comes through Algeciras.

Ceuta and Melilla. Fortified Europe
These autonomous cities are a small portion of Spain and Europe in the Maghreb. For many countries in Africa, these territories are seen as poles of attraction, as springboards toward an idealized Europe – a Europe far away from the wars and violence that ravage a large part of the Sahel, the line where the desert ends and equatorial Africa begins and where a multitude of Islamist terrorist groups take refuge and act.

Strait of Gibraltar. The secret of the crown
The United Kingdom maintains this colony in Spanish territory; they have an airship base in which the British nuclear submarines operate and dock. The city is considered a tax haven by the OECD. The threat of Brexit leaves the destiny of this small but mighty community somewhat uncertain.

For more details, please see Program Outline.

Dates for 2019

June 24 - June 28, 2019

While the actual class days of the seminar are June 24 through June 28, 2019, please be sure to arrive in time for the opening dinner on June 23!

Cost of Seminar

The cost is $1,675 (price does not include flight or hotel); however, if you are a teacher or administrator from one of SYA's Member Schools, the tuition will be reduced to $1,200.

Cádiz, Spain

Cádiz, in the region of Andalucía, is located in southwestern Spain. A famous port city, rich with varied cultural traditions, Cádiz is said to have been founded over 3,000 years ago; the diverse architecture and local cuisine point to the city's numerous conquerors of the past: the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visogoths, Byzantine, Moors and even the French. Famous sailors to enter and exit the port? Christopher Columbus and Sir Francis Drake.

There is high-speed train access between Madrid and Cádiz, but keep in mind that it is a 4.5-hour journey! For those starting from Sevilla, the train ride is only 1.5 hours.


About Antonio López Piña

Antonio López Piña earned a BS in Political Science and Sociology from Universidad Complutense in Madrid. Before SYA, he taught language, art and history at secondary schools. In addition, he started his own independent theater company in Madrid that hosted a variety of performances, including original works and new renditions of classics. Antonio joined SYA in 2007 and has taught political science, theater and Spanish language. He also spent the 2012-2013 academic year teaching language at Deerfield Academy (MA) in order to better comprehend his students’ backgrounds. Both a dedicated and innovative teacher, Antonio used part of his sabbatical last year to redesign his political science course in a way that would make it more experiential. His new class is called: Applied Sociology: Spain and street-level politics.

Politics and theater are two fundamental pillars in Antonio's life, thus it does not come as a surprise that he is a published playwright (La Pieza and Circa Ignis) and an active blogger. He published a collaborative work with José Aurelio Martín Rodríguez which is entitled Diccionario de nosotros mismos, showcasing his sophisticated and sharp sense of humor. In 2018, he also published the illustrated book Estrategia with Cristina López. His latest book, a satirical dictionary entitled 1000 Terms to Disregard Politics, is about to be published.

“Me interesa el teatro político y social, las redes invisibles que conforman el poder, los símbolos, lo que se oculta tras lo que se dice y lo que no se puede decir porque está tan presente que no lo vemos.”

-- Antonio López Piña

Letter from Antonio

Queridos exalumnos de SYA

El próximo mes de junio realizaré, con la ayuda del equipo de SYA, un seminario sobre geopolítica en la ciudad de Cádiz. Quiero invitaros a que os informéis sobre los contenidos y el lugar de impartición y a que no dudéis en consultarme sobre cualquier pregunta que os surja. Sería una excelente oportunidad para volver a vernos en un entorno diferente al de Zaragoza, pero manteniendo el mismo espíritu de descubrimiento y ganas de aprender sobre la cultura y el idioma. Eso sí, junto al mar en este caso. Este seminario abre la posibilidad de expandir el campus de SYA para, en adelante, poder llevarlo a otras ciudades que consideramos relevantes, interesantes y atractivas. Una oportunidad para ampliar conocimientos y practicar español en un ámbito distendido con otros compañeros que también vivieron la experiencia de estudiar y viajar por España.

¡Os esperamos!

Un fuerte abrazo,


Feedback From Past Participants

Past seminars have included a class on Don Quijote, Spanish Contemporary and Modern Art, and 100 Year of Politics in Spanish Film. Here is what participants are saying about SYA Adult Enrichment seminars:

“I have been a student of Spanish for over 25 years and a teacher for sixteen, and this week was one of the most meaningful language and cultural experiences I have ever had. I can’t recommend it enough.”

“I loved everything – practicing Spanish, the lectures, the community, spending time in Zaragoza and even the activities not connected to the class, the tapas, the wine tasting, the cooking class.”

"I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and studies in Zaragoza. I have participated in three others (summer teacher workshops) over the last 10 years (Cuernavaca and Oxford Barcelona) and this summer was, by far, my best experience. Zaragoza is a perfect city to explore but also small enough to walk most everywhere."

"[The best aspect was] The experience and knowledge of the teacher about the content of the course, and how he connected a lot of it to the location we were in, Zaragoza. Oriol did a fabulous job preparing engaging and meaningful activities for the movies we viewed. The movie director he invited to come and speak to us was a fabulous experience."

For more information,
contact Whitney Hermann ES'85 / 978-725-6828, ext. 134