The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Ana Andura: 1955-2021

Ana Andura smiling and holding a flower in her hair. Andura, who taught IB Spanish at WIS for 23 years, passed away in May 2021. (Courtesy of @anaandura)

Spanish teacher Ana Andura would spot a blooming blush pink peony outside of the Greenhouse and kneel down next to it. Careful not to crush the flower, she would pull out her camera and snap a photo. The next day, she would share the image with her students, reminding them of the importance of appreciating the little things in life.

Andura, who taught at WIS for 23 years, passed away in early May after a long struggle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Ernesto Hugo Berbery, her daughters, María Luz and Ingrid Berbery, and her sister, María Inés Andura Little. 

In addition to being an excellent teacher, Andura was well known around campus for her vivacious and cheery disposition.

She embraced every aspect of life, from devoting time to photograph nature, to hosting annual Carnival celebrations, to teaching her fellow faculty members yoga. 

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The following are personal testimonies from Andura’s fellow faculty members, current students, and alumni, reflecting on her positive impact on the WIS community.

Anna Martinelli-Parker, Class of 2020: Students at WIS can sometimes be reluctant to participate in higher level language classes and reluctant to give their all to the work that we do in the IB. But she was always super willing to dedicate time to individual students, to really push students, not in this nasty way, but you knew that she wanted the best for you. That was where she was coming from, not because she wanted good teaching evaluations or anything like that, but because she genuinely cared about you and she genuinely cared about you learning the material.

Spanish Literature Teacher Teresa Baeza: In her classes, there were some objects, like a talking stick that they were using for discussions. The objects, the songs that they sang, everything that she did was visually linked to the teaching. So it was like the artifacts would help you remember what she taught. And I think that was very important because learning is very physical for some students.

Luana Dos Santos, Class of 2023: Something that I thought was really special about her is that she always tried to make us gain an appreciation for Latin American culture, since the Spanish curriculum is so focused on Spain. I remember all of us being in class, we were reading a book and she was playing this YouTube video of people playing the drums. I remember she was really excited about it and was trying to get us all to appreciate it, and she really cared about Latin American culture.

Spanish Literature Teacher Antonio Ramallo: We used to go to the GALA Hispanic Theater [a DC performing arts center focused on telling Latinx stories]. And one amazing thing about her is that every time that we went, she wanted to be sure that the students not only would appreciate the literary or the language part of the theatre, but she wanted to be sure that the students would appreciate the artistic part of the theatre. And she would do anything from dancing to moving to acting out what the book was like. This is one of the most impressive parts for me, how she wanted to transmit this passion and to be sure that the students appreciate the literary value, the Spanish language value, and the artistic value of whatever they were going to see there.

Alejandro Gonzalez, Class of 2020: Usually I don’t enjoy literature or language classes. But with Sra. Andura, she made it so much more enjoyable for me to take that course. She put so much effort into making it fun for everyone, whether that involved watching videos about the book that we were reading or making us do a little skit about it. And just the way in which she would talk about the piece herself, you could tell she was so passionate about it. She really fostered my appreciation for literature, especially Latin American literature. I’m even taking a Spanish literature class right now in college.

Martinelli-Parker: It’s easy to get out of the habit of reading for pleasure as you get older. I don’t want to say she really pushed against that with me, but she definitely helped me by giving me recommendations of things to read, even things in English as well. She helped keep up that love in me. I do a lot more reading for fun now than I did five years ago, which is a bit of a shock to me. So just keeping up that love for reading and that appreciation for literature, I can credit to her.

Gonzalez: She was always very enthusiastic, and she always saw the positive side. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a bad mood. Overall, she really appreciated life and everything that it has to offer. So she put her all into trying to transfer that mentality to us. She would always bring us candy and postcards from the places she’d visited and just little things that would show that she really cared.

Baeza: She was always thinking about our birthdays in the Spanish department and ‘whose birthday is it?’ We would celebrate every single birthday. That is something that we still do. And it’s thanks to her because she was always thinking about us. She would sing and do silly things, which when you meet her, you don’t think that she’s so goofy, but then she would make us laugh all the time with her through her singing and acting.

Ramallo: In the Greenhouse, there is the Chinese department, the French department, Spanish department, History, and Geography. All the humanities are there. Every single day, she was very friendly with everybody in the Greenhouse. There was no distinction between the Spanish people or the other foreign language people and the other people like History and Geography.

Design Technology Teacher Lance Baldwin: She strove to find the beauty in everyday objects and occurrences. So she stopped and she took pictures of flowers. She stopped and smelled flowers. She took a lot of pleasure in the beauty that surrounds us, if we only look for it. Since she passed, I have made a concerted effort to think more about the positive things in my life, and avoid thinking and talking about the negative things in my life. And being grateful for all of the multitude of positive aspects of my life, rather than being sucked into a stilted point of view that things are bad.

Martinelli-Parker: I got the Spanish award when I graduated, and she gave a really kind speech during it. It was such a nice moment for me to be able to see the connection that I’d made with this teacher of mine, that I’d been randomly allocated with. It means a lot to me that I had an impact on her life the same way that she had an impact on mine. That experience of reflecting on my growth through her own eyes was really, really nice.

Gonzalez: My brother was also at WIS and graduated in the class of 2017. He took higher-level Spanish while I was in her ninth grade class. Whenever we would have parent teacher conferences or my parents would have to talk to her about my brother, she always mentioned me, and vice versa. It was a very kind thing and always made me feel seen and recognized. It was very sweet of her to keep both of us in her memory. It made me feel closer to her, and I felt more comfortable talking to her if I ever had a problem. She was one of my teachers that I trusted the most.

Baldwin: Her memorial service at WIS was really wonderful. This was on the back porch of the Mansion. We passed around the microphone and told stories about Ana and our remembrances of her. It was very personal and funny and heartfelt. The Spanish department released two dozen butterflies at the end of it. That was poignant and she would have loved that. I think the butterflies represented her love for nature and her characteristic of stopping to take in the beauty of something small.

Ramallo: Her funeral was extremely sad because while I was sitting there in the church, I remembered December 2019. She had told me, ‘I love teaching, but in two years or so, I want to retire and I want to travel for the rest of my life. I will devote my life to traveling, to go to Spain and see my family, and then go to Argentina, and here in the United States, and read a lot.’ She had plans for her life. It was really hard for me, sitting there thinking about how alive she had been, how many plans she had had even after retiring that she never got to fulfill.

Baldwin: It’s hard to quantify how much it meant for WIS to lose two such strong and unique teachers in basically a year’s time: Mara Wilson and Ana Andura. They had an outsized influence on a lot of what makes WIS special. It’s just a real loss to our school and our community. And I want you to understand, I smiled a lot during this interview because I really have great memories of Sra. Andura, but it’s so sad to me that she couldn’t teach for a couple of more years and retire and travel around the world with her husband. She was a truly wonderful woman and she is the most positive person I’ve ever met. I can say that honestly and easily.

By Maia Nehme

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