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History & Timeline

Barbara and Gerald Guidera first envisioned CC-CS (later to become SSA) on a road trip that they made as a young couple.

The story goes:

More than fifty years ago, the idea of The Center for Cross-Cultural Study was born of an adventure that lead to a discovery.

The adventure was our first visit to an unknown country – Mexico – with our first baby in a 1951 Ford.

After surviving the lesser adventures of your typical road trip car break-down, and quickly running out of cash, we ended up by chance in a little town, where we could rent a tiny house with a garden where lilies grew about eight feet tall, and just sit still for a while.

Then began the discovery.

Photos 1959 To 1960 Jerry And Barbara With Daughter Elisa(1)
Photos 1959 To 1960 Jerry And Barbara With Daughter Elisa(2)

First was language: we both had taken second-year Spanish in college, but we found that the people of Mexico did not speak our textbook Spanish.

So we had to listen and learn from them, outside the typical classroom. (They were glad to speak to us–but at full speed!)

Happily, they were very patient with our frequent “no entiendo”s and our many questions. We too had to learn how to be patient and to see things the way our neighbors did.

That was the key to discovery and eventually, to a shared lifetime of cross-cultural study.

Gradually we came to discover in our new neighbors a very high degree of honor and generosity that we did not as often find at home.

We came to see their obvious differences from our culture, not as defects or curiosities, but as mainstays of a basically different, yet balanced value system.

This kind of knowledge is the key to better relations between people, whether one-to-one, in business negotiations, or in making peace between nations in this intensely small world.

Jerry And Elisa In San Miguel Mexico 1960
Barbara And Elisa In Mexico 1960(2)

In fifty years, SSA has grown from this simple story to an esteemed program that serves hundreds of students each year in Spain, Argentina, Cuba, Panama, and Puerto Rico.

Jerry And Barbara Guidera With Students In Santiago De Compostela Spain Oct 12 1977




During a summer living in a small town in Mexico, Founders Gerald and Barbara Guidera
discovered that the ordinary Mexican people around them had fundamentally different
values, and that much was to be learned from them – and admired. This was the
beginning of what was to become the goal of cross-cultural study.


The Guideras establish Study in Spain, Inc., first name of The Center for Cross-Cultural Study, in Freeport, N.Y. and the first study abroad trip is made with a group of students to Malaga, Spain.


Pursuing knowledge in another nexus of Hispanic culture, the Guideras lived and worked for seven years in southern Spain, until Gerald Guidera completed his degree of Doctor en Filosofía y Letras at Universidad de Sevilla.



In cooperation with Union College, the Guideras establish the first Spanish semester program in Seville, Spain.

Our Center is located on the Plaza San Francisco
across from City Hall of Seville (created in 1529). The fundamental curriculum of Spanish Studies Spanish language and culture courses is developed.


Study in Spain partners with Universidad de Sevilla to offer students a guided direct enrollment option in Seville.


SSA formally establishes a Board of Advisors, a council of academics from distinguished institutions of higher learning, as a resource for guiding and ensuring the academic quality and integrity of Spanish Studies programming.



Study in Spain partners with Universidad de Sevilla to offer students a guided direct enrollment option in Seville.


SSA establishes its main US administrative offices in Amherst, Massachusetts.


The Center moves into a beautiful historic mansion in the heart of Seville’s social and commercial district 18 Calle Harinas, where it is still located today.


SSA begins offering two program tracks for students: the Intensive Intermediate Program and the Upper Division Program.



Attracted by our long-standing university programs, Elderhostel begins using SSA to organize educational cultural travel programs in southern Spain with SSA.


The Center for Cross-Cultural Study, in cooperation with Willamette University, works with Universidad de La Habana to organize a full array of programs in Havana, Cuba offering semester, summer and winter programs, as well as faculty led programs.

Community Service is an important part of programs in Cuba. SSA stresses the need to provide access for a generation of students and future leaders to the “prohibited” island of Cuba – let individuals judge for themselves. 

Homestays are not permitted, and all students are lodged at the Hotel Universitario (“El Hotelito”), run by the Ministerio de Educación Superior.


SSA launches the Writing Across the Curriculum Program. All SSA courses incorporate a shared goal of developing students’ critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.


SSA begins offering educational cultural travel programs to Cuba for Elderhostel (Road Scholar) learners, with great success. Program topics include culture, history, medicine, education, arts and ecology.



SSA reaches an agreement with the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba, to offer language and culture programs for faculty-led groups, and establishes a semester program for Lewis & Clark College.


SSA is forced to suspend study programs in Cuba and close its Havana offices because of new U.S. Government policies severely restricting academic programs in Cuba.


SSA adds the 1-credit Cultural Realities course to the curriculum in Seville, Spain, to further encourage cultural integration.


All SSA Programs incorporate an Intensive Language and Culture Period and a Cross-Cultural Course to encourage maximum integration into the host culture.


Changes in U.S. Government regulations force the suspension of all Cultural Travel programming in Cuba before December 31, 2003. By this point, SSA and Elderhostel have hosted over 4000 Elderhostelers in Cuba.


SSA cooperates with Universidad Blas Pascal to offer semester and short-term programs in Córdoba, Argentina. Through the new program, Spanish Studies develops the Guided Direct Enrollment Model and the Intensive Language and Culture Period.


In cooperation with Universidad de Alicante, SSA offers a Guided Direct Enrollment program in Alicante, Spain. Students benefit from the Intensive Language and Culture Period, as well as a 3-credit Social Realities course, which incorporates the Perspectivas Project developed in the Cuba program


SSA begins working in cooperation with Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, one of the oldest and most respected universities in the Americas, in the historical, social, and commercial center of Córdoba, Argentina.



SSA partners with Universidad de Sevilla to offer students guided direct enrollment in Seville. Experiential learning opportunities are made available at all program locations.


Back in the Caribbean! SSA begins working with the University del Sagrado Corazón (USC) in Puerto Rico. In April, after 10 years, SSA acquires its license to return to Cuba.


SSA and Elisava School of Design and Engineering sign an agreement to offer design and engineering programs in Barcelona.


SSA begins a new program in International Studies at Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is a semester-long program offering courses in both Spanish and English for US students.


SSA begins working with Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. UPF was founded in 1990. Courses can be taken in English, Spanish, or Catalan.


SSA reaches an agreement with the Universitat Autònoma de
Barcelona to expand its offer of study abroad programs in Barcelona.


SSA offers a new May-Term program at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

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Seville, Spain

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Alicante, Spain

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Córdoba, Argentina

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