Crossing Cultures Since 1996
SPI is an organization founded by foreign language teachers, study abroad advocates, and parents of students whose lives were changed by study abroad. SPI holds over 30 years of educational travel experience behind it from the members of its academic board led by Master Teacher, Rose Potter.
As an energetic Spanish teacher in the 1980s, Rose knew the only way her students would truly learn Spanish was by living the language and the culture, not by organizing a cattle-drive bus tour around Europe. She created a well-rounded, college-like summer homestay study abroad experience in Spain. Their program’s success was simply outstanding and its impact truly life changing.
Soon after, Rose left her job in the classroom and began organizing language immersion programs for students. She traveled the country working with like-minded educators, presenting the unique opportunity to parents and students. Since SPI’s inception, there have been thousands of students whose lives have been impacted by meaningful international experiences in countries worldwide. We are proud that Rose’s mission continues today…
*Pictured from left to right are SPI Founder; Rose Potter, SPI Academic Board Leaders; Gloria Munguia, Mary Diehl, and Betsy Arnold (photo taken 1998.)
Guy & Diane Goodwin’s Story…
Parents have been an integral part of SPI’s success from the beginning. As young world travelers in the 1970’s, Guy & Diane Goodwin met and soon later married while traveling throughout Central & South America. They returned home from their travels understanding the great importance that foreign language immersion and deep cultural understanding has on young people. They knew they would instill these values and experiences in their children.
Like most American parents are forced to ask themselves, “Why has my child taken so many years of foreign language and they still can’t speak the language?” Sending their children to live with a homestay family and be totally immersed in the language and culture was the answer AND the best investment.
They have sent all of their three children to study abroad in numerous Spanish & French-speaking countries and all enjoy a high level of fluency. Like Guy & Diane’s philosophy, SPI is rooted in providing high school students with a keen knowledge of languages and cultures that are not their own.
A letter from Guy Goodwin…
In the fall of 1997, my son came home from school with a flyer announcing a meeting about a summer study abroad experience with his Spanish teacher. He gracefully threw it on the counter with no mention or interest of it. I found that flyer and decided we needed to attend the meeting to find out more about what seemed to be a truly unique opportunity for my children.
We attended the meeting led by SPI founder, Rose Potter, a master teacher who preached the importance that foreign language and cultural immersion would have on our kids. They would enter college with credit, graduate early, save parents money (and even become trilingual) by the time college ended. All of this seemed too good to be true…
We enrolled our son into the Santander program and months later he was on his way to Spain. The entire time he was abroad we heard from him infrequently, only to hear how much Spanish he was learning, how much he loved his homestay family, and how much he was learning about the world and himself. At that moment I understood everything Rose advocated in her meeting. But it gets better…
My son then studied abroad a second time between his junior and senior year, and went on to enter university (his first choice) with 25 hours of college credit through the AP exams and his study abroad. Almost an entire semester of college! He continued to study Spanish in college and soon after began studying French, his third language.
Not only did the study abroad investment pay me back, it paid my son back for the rest of his life. My advice:
DON’T LET YOUR CHILD GRADUATE WITHOUT STUDY ABROAD.
Jeremy Goodwin’s Story… (SPI’s Executive Director)
I remember the afternoon I came home from school (my sophomore year) my head spinning from soaking in subjunctive verbs in Spanish class, having fifty pages of reading for AP U.S. History that night, and wondering “was this school year ever going to end!” I threw out all the books and papers from my backback on the kitchen table and started the grueling task the next 4 hours would have ahead of me.
Just before I started, I saw this flyer my Spanish teacher had given me. An announcement for an informational meeting about a summer study abroad program to Santander, Spain my teacher was leading. It read: “Change your life this summer in Spain. Earn college credit and live another language and culture!” My whole life I was always the quiet kid, the type that would freak out at the prospect of an upcoming presentation in one of my classes. Initially the thought of going to Spain scared me and I threw the flyer on the kitchen counter to be thrown away at some point. The next night when I came home my dad said, “We should go to that study abroad meeting. Don’t you want to go to Spain this summer!?” In typical teenager response I replied, “uh, yeah, I guess” and then the thought of mowing lawns all summer OR go to Spain, sparked my attention to the fullest.
We attended the meeting and listened to Rose Potter preach the importance knowing a second or third language makes on young people. She showed us a slideshow that brought my attention to the next level. We left the meeting and my parents assured me that I would be participating in the program next summer. My friend Drew and I decided to be roommates and months later we were at the airport taking off for a month in Spain.
The entire month was a roller coaster of experiences having fun on the beach, getting frustrated communicating with people, learning how to take public transportation, trying new foods I didn’t imagine liking, exploring cool new places, seeing how Americans and Europeans are different yet the same, and above all understanding myself.
Reluctant to leave Spain, I returned home a completely changed 16 year old. I was excited to share my experiences with my friends, found AP Spanish to be easy and all of a sudden I wasn’t afraid to get up in front of my peers and do a presentation. Being placed out of my ‘comfort zone’, into the world where they speak other languages, eat different foods, and live a different way of life gave me new found self confidence and a global perspective that helps me daily in my adult life.
My story is shared by fellow SPI students each summer. Study abroad is truly a defining moment for teenagers. I am happy to continue SPI’s mission today — enriching young people’s lives by helping them to become global citizens.