Fabian Ruiz is a globetrotting Spanish teacher at Hoover High. A year ago, he worked a summer job in Chile with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a non-profit organization promoting international education and exchange that was founded in 1947.

“There were no students from Iowa taking part,” he said. He returned to Hoover last fall determined to change that.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018 and three of Ruiz’s AP Spanish students will study abroad thanks to CIEE scholarships.

Connor Flynn leaves for an immersive month in Spain on June 8. About the time he returns, Jessica Cruz heads for Mexico and Jennifer Aguilar to the Dominican Republic.

Flynn is currently a junior. Cruz and Aguilar are both sophomores. None of them has ever traveled out of the country. Thanks to Ruiz, their horizons are about to broaden.

“Each of them not only received scholarships to pay for their tuition, (ranging from $4k to nearly $6k) but they also earn four hours of college credit,” Ruiz said.

The trio are the first Hoover students to participate in CIEE’s deluxe summer school program and Ruiz hopes they won’t be the last. Since all of them are underclassmen, they’ll be able to share their experiences with classmates next fall.

“We had to write essays as part of the application,” said Aguilar. “I was so excited to find out that I got the scholarship.”

Flynn’s parents will drive him to Chicago where he’ll rendezvous with a group of other CIEE students for the transatlantic flight to Spain.

“I waited a while before I told my parents about the program,” he said, apparently unsure of what their reaction might be. “But they’re all for it.” And why not? CIEE made Connor an offer that would have been hard to refuse.

Cruz identifies as Mexican even though she was born in Wisconsin and has never been to Mexico. In that sense, her trip will be something of a homecoming and a new experience at the same time.

Ruiz has studied or taught all over, from Norway to Peru to the Middle East. He’s taught at Hoover for five years and now is sending a corps of student ambassadors out into the world, in keeping with Hoover’s global perspective as an International Baccalaureate school with an extremely diverse student population.

“They will stay with host families and experience the local cultures besides going to classes,” he said. “It’s one thing to study a language, but to really learn it you have to live it.”

Wanderlust isn’t officially a part of the AP Spanish curriculum but it comes with the course at Hoover.

Published on