Who We Are
Beyond Language Immersion is a nonprofit organization founded by two university Spanish professors who are passionate about linguistic and cultural immersion.
Darío Lizancos Robles and Holly Schneider recognized a need for making immersion programs available to a wider audience of individuals not seeking formal classroom study or academic credit. As educators and lifelong learners themselves, they aim to expand upon the traditional study abroad model that has been so influential in their own lives. By removing the formal academic component and shifting the focus to experiential learning and culture, Beyond Language Immersion offers a new model of "study abroad" open to self-motivated individuals regardless of students status or language proficiency.
Holly Schneider and Darío Lizancos Robles
Co-founders and program coordinators
Co-founder and program coordinator
Holly is a passionate and dedicated educator with over a decade of experience teaching Spanish at the university level and leading university students on study abroad programs in Spain. In 2012, while teaching as a full-time Spanish instructor at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, she launched the Granada Summer Program: a month-long study abroad program in Granada, Spain, where she herself had studied abroad while in undergrad and during grad school. She continued to run this successful program at Loyola for eight consecutive years before moving to Alabama.
Holly considers her work in study abroad one of the highlights of her teaching career. She loves guiding students through the immersion experience and reflecting with them on the challenges and rewards of going outside of our comfort zone and seeing the world from a different perspective. She sees language learning and travel as a way to spread compassion and build bridges of understanding between different nations and cultures around the world.
Holly currently lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband and two cats: Zizou and Sergio. In her free time she enjoys hiking, painting, connecting with friends, going to Birmingham Legion soccer games with her husband, and cheering her students on in all their endeavors.
Darío Lizancos Robles
Co-founder and program coordinator
Darío is a native of Granada, Spain and has been teaching Spanish in the US since 2013, when he moved to Delaware to start his graduate studies. He just finished a doctoral degree in Spanish linguistics at the University of Georgia, and has moved to Washington DC to start teaching at George Washington University as an Assistant Professor of Spanish. His research interests lie in the fluency gains that participants make in language immersion experiences. He has also coordinated several study abroad programs in the past, in Santiago de Chile and València, Spain.
Darío is very passionate about experiences abroad. As a college student at the University of Granada, he went on two different year-long abroad programs, one in Brighton (UK), and one in San Diego, CA. These programs broadened his cultural awareness, helped him expand his horizons, and strengthened his English skills. When he came back to Granada from his last abroad experience, he saw his city with different eyes – the eyes of someone who is discovering it for the first time. Darío is a proud granadino who loves sharing his favorite spots and cultural traits with anyone who wants to explore the city.
Darío currently lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife, daughter, and dog. His favorite things are spending time with friends and family, traveling, playing soccer, cooking, and trying new foods.
Holly and Darío met in Granada, Spain in 2008 when Holly was a teaching assistant at the Universidad de Granada as part of an academic exchange while working on her master's degree with the University of Delaware. At that time Darío was a first-year university student studying English philology at the Universidad de Granada, and was enrolled in Holly's English conversation class. Thanks to their shared interests and passions, they built a long-lasting friendship, and to this day, they are still very present in each other's lives.
Our Board of Directors
Luzmaria Renjifo is a Spanish tutor based in Austin, Texas. She teaches all levels and has students ages 4 to 64.
Luzmaría holds a BA in Literature from Universidad de Los Andes and an MA in Hispanic Literature from Yale University. She was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, and studied Literature at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá. She then moved to the USA to pursue graduate studies in Hispanic Literature at Yale.
She has taught Spanish and Hispanic culture and literature at Universidad de Los Andes, Yale, and Loyola University, Maryland. In addition, she spent two years in Doha, Qatar teaching Spanish to a group of Qatari women.
Luzmaría lives in Austin with her husband, Jorge, and her cat, Betsy. She is passionate about infusing joy in the process of learning. Her favorite part of Granada is the garden of Generalife.
Javier Cabezas is a native from Granada, Spain. He found his passion when he started tutoring English in Spain at 20 years old and hasn’t stopped teaching either Spanish or English as a second language since.
The connection between Javier and study abroad programs started in 2009 when he was granted a scholarship to study at the University of Sussex, UK, as part of his bachelors. His time in England proved so beneficial that he kept working as a study abroad program assistant during his Master’s and PhD programs.
Currently, Javier teaches Spanish at Villanova University. In his free time, Javier loves playing soccer, cooking and trying new food, and traveling.
Thomas Thompson is originally from Maryland, but thanks to his own immersion experiences, he is lucky to feel at home in many different corners of the globe. He is passionate about education, politics, international relations and encouraging others to explore the world. He currently teaches Political Science at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, but spent time studying in Alcalá de Henares near Madrid, Spain and in Buenos Aires, Argentina during undergrad. He received his B.A. in Spanish and Political Science from Loyola University Maryland and completed his graduate studies in International Relations at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand.
He has been to Granada on many occasions and appreciates the city’s magic. Pre-pandemic, Thomas made it a personal goal to return to Spain at least once a year, but is anxiously waiting for a return to normalcy and his next trip back. He currently splits his time between Bangkok, Thailand and Frederick, MD. In his free time, you can find Thomas Googling the best local restaurants or cooking at home, spending time with friends, watching documentaries, going on walks, grading exams, or planning his next trip!