Hailing from a country in which the term liberal arts education doesn’t exist, Petya Andreeva ’13 of Burgas, Bulgaria, came to Colby without really knowing what she was getting herself into. She arrived planning to study political science, and now, after just one year at Colby, her résumé includes being curator of two art exhibitions in Hong Kong.
Andreeva planned to double major in government and East Asian studies. But Colby’s academic requirements have a funny way of changing people’s plans. “I was reluctant and worried that I had to take classes outside of my majors,” said Andreeva. “Still, I had to take Asian Art with Professor Ankeney Weitz to satisfy my art requirement.”
It was Weitz’s art class that, Andreeva says, changed her life. “It made me rediscover myself and my strengths,” she said. “I just simply felt alive while learning about art.” Halfway through her freshman year, Andreeva declared her majors: art history and East Asian studies.
Under Weitz’s guidance, Andreeva applied for and received the highly competitive Freeman Foundation Grant, which sponsored her internship at the Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery this summer.
She spent most of her summer in Hong Kong writing press releases and doing extensive research in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese art. But, when the director of the gallery asked Andreeva to translate 50 Polish posters donated by the Polish consulate, she was given the opportunity of a lifetime.
"He actually gave me the responsibility to curate a whole exhibition with those fifty posters,” Andreeva said. She arranged the posters and wrote a caption for each. The exhibition occupied two halls of the museum and was open to visitors for a month.
Impressed by her work, the director asked Andreeva to curate another exhibition, this one about Japanese photography. Her second exhibit was viewed by the consul general of Japan and other diplomats from various embassies and consulates—quite an accomplishment for someone with only one year of college under her belt.