''Every year I bring a group of American students to Madrid to study many subjects, one of which is the Spanish Civil War. This is a subject American students know very little about despite its importance in shaping modern Spain and Europe in the 20th century.

Although I know Madrid well and have a good knowledge of the Spanish Civil War history, I want my students to learn from someone who has a deeper connection to the war than I have and who knows Madrid like the back of her hand. Before I even met her, I knew through our e-mail correspondence that I had found that person in Almudena Cros. After arranging everything via e-mail, we met for the first time (promptly and exactly as planned) in the Puerta del Sol.

From there, Almudena led me and my students around Madrid on a four hour tour of important sites from the Battle of Madrid in the 1930s. She talked about Hemingway and also told us about the Telefónica building that was so crucial to Madrid's survival. We also located the place where the great banner hung declaring "No Pasarán" during the war.

But this tour was much more than a walk through buildings and streets.  During our four hours together, Almudena talked to us about the history of the war, explaining little known aspects of it with pictures from the period to help us to "see" 1930s Madrid rather than try to imagine how it looked. In this way we could actually compare Civil War Madrid to the modern city. The whole experience was made more vivid by the personal stories, photos, and memorabilia of Almudena's grandparents (who suffered through the war) that Almudena carries with her and interweaves throughout the tour.

Almudena ended our tour with a visit to the Museo Reina Sofia, which in addition to Picasso's "Guernica," has many paintings, etchings, and posters from the Civil War period. Here Almudena's academic training as an Art Historian intersected beautifully with her knowledge of and passion to explain the Spanish Civil War.

Even on a hot summer afternoon in Madrid, my students found Almudena's knowledge and enthusiasm informative and inspiring. This is a great tour that I will do again and again.''

Dr. Robert Costomiris, Director of the European Council Study Abroad Program in Madrid, University System of Georgia, USA.