From the time Ana Alfianu was around 16, she dreamed of becoming an actress. While she enjoyed her museum job in Romania, the Brasov High School of Art graduate had other plans for her life.
“I wanted to try something different, in another part of the world,” she said. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a degree, just a new path, a life dare, a means to satiate my curiosity.”
Alfianu was helping her friend apply to an art residency program when she met Nita Kehoe, an art professor at CWC.
“She suggested that I come and study art and theatre, and that was pretty much the deciding factor,” Alfianu said.
Alfianu had grown up with American pop culture and her host parent, Mike Myers, said she attributed her excellent English to what she had seen in movies.
“She certainly loved them,” Myers said. “When she had any free time, she wanted to watch a movie.”
While Alfianu thought she knew what to expect from America, living with Myers and his family helped her adjust to the new culture.
“I could not have asked for a better way to get a glimpse of daily life in Riverton,” she said. “Without them, I would have been at a loss for sure. They offered both a sense of stability and the opportunity to visit other parts of Wyoming, Montana and later, Connecticut.”
Alfianu was a great fit for the Myers family, and Myers said she quickly became friends with his wife, their son, Sam and their pets.
“She taught us how to cook a number of Romanian dishes, which became favorites at our house,” he said.
Alfianu admired Myers both in and out of the classroom. It was taking his classes that made her realize she’d confused her love of theatre with the desire to be on stage.
“I discovered that I didn’t have much talent for acting, but there are so many things you can do if you love the thespian world,” she said. “You can be a stage manager, a director, or you can work in set design—in the music or light department.”
Even though she didn’t really want to act, Myers said he convinced her to play the shepherd boy in “Waiting for Godot.” She was also involved in all the theatre department’s major shows that year and directed a play of student one-acts.
Outside of the theatre department, Alfianu took other classes that allowed her to experiment creatively, and her writing and art courses served as a precursor to her later career as an author and illustrator.
Art professor Matt Flint said Alfianu was a true artist he remembered well.
“She was always working on something,” Flint said. “Conceptually, she amazed me with her unique vision of the world and how she expressed that visually. She would often catch me between classes, and we would have great conversations about art and music. She was an absolute delight to teach.”
After leaving the states in 2007, Alfianu returned briefly to her museum job in Romania. She studied creative writing and in focusing on her creative tendencies wrote and illustrated the fairy tale, “Val and Fortress of Souls,” which was featured at the prestigious Romanian publishing house, Humanities.
Alfianu now works for the same publishing house and is producing illustrations of the Cosmos for a space atlas.
“It is a great challenge and I love working on this project,” she said. Alfianu looks back on her time in Wyoming with gratitude. She described the experience, overall, as hard and beautiful, and said language barriers were less of an issue than homesickness. She encourages future international students to embrace their peers without concern that their English is insufficient.
“The truth is when you like somebody you always find a way to communicate,” she said. She remembered her family, professors and classmates as incredible human beings.
“I am grateful to have known them,” she said.