Story Central

el Pilar, Zaragoza

“Jaw-dropping grandness of El Pilar”

Lili Sundberg ES’19 becomes a citizen of Zaragoza, thanks to the class of SYA Spain 1981 and the SYA Fund.

Lili Sundberg comes to SYA from Washington DC and the Sidwell Friends School. Back home, her favorite subjects are English and history, and she runs cross country. Lili is the Class of SYA Spain 1981 Scholar for 2018-19. Class Scholars attend SYA thanks to generous support that individual classes contribute through the SYA Fund.

What drew you to SYA?

I have a passion for travel, adventure and pushing my limits. I knew SYA would give me the chance to pursue all those things.

How has the experience changed you?

I have become more confident than I ever was at home; I stand up for myself and what I believe in without any second-guessing; I can go up to strangers on the street and not be afraid to ask them questions in Spanish; and I am learning how to surround myself with things and people that make me truly happy.

Have you discovered anything in common with life back home?

I really missed babysitting and the kids from my neighborhood who I consider almost part of my own family. So when the option to tutor Spanish kids in English for the year was given to us, I thought it could be the perfect way to feel that connection again…and it was.

I’ve loved spending time with Alba (4) and Hugo (2), whether it’s doing the ballerina puzzle at the beginning of each visit or dancing to “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. It quickly became the highlight of my week. I feel lucky that I’ve had another family here in Spain that I feel a part of, learn from, and spend time with.

What do you love about Zaragoza?

There are so many places, but there’s one that’s so obvious and central: el Pilar. My friends and I started our “Pilar Talks” back in January, on a cold night walking home. One of us decided to turn toward the giant basilica instead of walking straight, past Calle Alfonso. We sat on the steps, watching jóvenes roller blade and delving into what we’d learned about ourselves, what the remaining days would hold and how they will never possibly be enough. We stayed there, looking up at the gargoyles and tiles and just jaw-dropping grandness of el Pilar until we had to go home for curfew.

There’s still a lot to learn. There always will be. This world is huge. And Zaragoza still has way more new experiences to offer me, and I plan to make the most of what I can discover before I leave. Because at the end of the day, the truest lessons you will ever learn have to come from relying on yourself and what you can offer this world.

Any parting words?

Thank you, Class of SYA Spain 1981 for making all of this possible for me!