Annia Bu is a second-year master’s candidate in the Spanish Studies section of the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. Annia was a professional actress in film and theater before she came to UConn. In fact, she was acting professionally even before her undergraduate degree and has received acting awards at the Ceara Film Festival in Brazil, the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida, and has worked under renowned directors such as Juan Carlos Tabio. She is a native of Santiago de Cuba.
She completed her undergraduate studies at the Art Institute of Cuba. There, she studied drama, acting and theater arts. She also took courses in literature, history, philosophy, psychology alongside drama – subjects which she describes as “crucial” to doing well in the field of acting. She loves studying and performing.
In 2011, Annia moved from Cuba to Miami, and then from there to New Haven one year later where she worked as assistant director of a film festival hosted by Yale University featuring films from Spain and Latin America. She then moved to New York City where she spent three years working for the Spanish Repertory Theater – one of the most prominent and longest-running Spanish-speaking theaters in the city.
Annia knew that she wanted to pursue graduate studies in the United States with a focus on literary and cultural studies. In 2016, she began her master’s degree at UConn. Annia says she was excited to begin her M.A. because of the encouragement of Professor Laurietz Seda, a specialist in Latin American theater. In her first year of the program, Annia took courses in Latin American and Hispanic Theater taught by Professor Seda as well as in Spanish Theater taught by Professor Ana María Díaz-Marcos. Advanced study has supplemented her practical theatrical experience with new insights. “When I analyze literature or philosophy here in school, I’m glad I can apply the practice of looking for subtexts, things that are not told in the text completely… I’m so happy that I can see these, but now in a different way,” she says.
Annia speaks fondly of her fellow graduate students. She says that analyzing works of theater while working with her classmates’ individual interpretations has been instrumental in deepening her appreciation of theater and for writing more broadly. Teaching, however, is the best part of her day. “My goal is not that my students are perfect speakers,” she says, “my goal is that they communicate, engage with the culture, and now know more about the Hispanic world.” Annia has drawn upon theatrical practice to help teach her native language. Her students always form a circle at the beginning of class, a ritual that is important in theater. During class, Annia implements group activities during which she encourages students to play out their lessons, voice their new vocabulary, and to translate the abstract into physical gestures. She says that theater helped her learn how to go further in communicating even when words aren’t spoken perfectly.
In May of 2018, Annia will be graduating with a M.A. in Spanish Studies and a teaching certificate. She will be staying in the United States to teach Spanish and continue her work in theater. In the future, she would like to pursue a PhD with a focus on history through the lens of theater. “I am happy I decided to come to UConn,” she says in reflecting on her time in the master’s program. “It is great, in our department, to have people from all around the world… I am lucky for having this opportunity to learn and teach but also to have this environment.”
This feature was written by Claire Boers.