History of the IUHPFL
The IUHPFL began in 1962 when Mr. Munford, a former official of the Ford Foundation, approached Professor Merle Simmons, of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, about using Ford Foundation funds to create immersion programs abroad for high school students.
The goal of the new programs, as described by Professor Simmons, was the total immersion of talented high school students in a host culture and the development of their linguistic skills in the corresponding foreign languages of said host culture. Initially, three Program sites were chosen: St. Brieuc in France, Trier in Germany and Oaxaca in Mexico.
Over time, the Program has expanded significantly, increasing in numbers and moving into the Iberian Peninsula to Spain.
The Program in France began with a site in the city of St. Brieuc, in the region of Brittany; the St. Brieuc Program site has been maintained until this day. A second city was established in 1994 in the same region of France, the city of Brest. Brest also remains a current Program site.
Due to the increasing number of high school French students applying to the Program, a third Program site was established in Saumur in the Loire valley in 2010.
The Program in Germany began in Trier and moved to Krefeld, a city along the Rhinenear Düsseldorf and Cologne, in 1964 where it has been ever since.
The Program in Mexico began in Oaxaca, but moved to Monterrey after two years. After a few years in Monterrey the Program moved to San Luis Potosí because of its safe and manageable environment as well as the paucity of tourists and other distractions there. When disturbances in the north of Mexico began in 2011, the Program site was moved to Mérida on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is uncertain at this time when the IUHPFL will return to San Luis Potosí.
The first Program site in Spain was established in 1996 in the city of Valencia. The sites of Ciudad Real and León were established in 1999 and 2005, respectively. Oviedo, the fourth and most recent Program site was added in 2007.