Home Away from Home: Lindokuhle “Lindo” Ngwenya ’15

Lindokuhle “Lindo” Ngwenya ’15 talks about Rollins, studying in the U.S., and the items she brought with her from South Africa to make her stay in Winter Park feel more like home.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

I am from… Johannesburg, South Africa.

I speak… isiZulu, isiXhosa, isiNdebele, Sesotho, siSwati, English, and Setswana.

I majored in… mathematics and economics.

I would describe myself as the type of student who… likes learning in class, outside of class, from other students, and professors. I’m not a student who focuses on learning in classes only. I try to learn from everybody because everybody has something you don’t know and can teach you something.

The professor who has had the most impact on me is… Dr. Yellen, who is the math professor. Dr Yellen has helped me work harder and harder with my studies. If there was something challenging for me in class, he would encourage me to work harder outside of class. He’s always been there, asking me how I’m doing. He’s not just interested in what I’m doing in class, but in other things, always asking me, “How’s your brother doing?” and other things.

I cannot live without… music. Each and every day, I try to have 15 minutes or more where I listen to music. I just need my jam session, where I listen to my music and I don’t do anything else. I think that helps me relax and take a break from everything that is happening and be me.

I am passionate about… community service and helping people out. It makes me feel better if I’m contributing to the community and helping, but I would say that is how I grew up. Everybody would help one another where I grew up. If somebody was maybe painting a house, somebody else would go and help out. I would say it’s more like a habit now. It just makes me feel alive to be involved with other people and to do something and help them because I also get a lot of help from other people.

If I could share a cup of tea with anyone, it would be… my grandmother and mother (both passed away in 2010 before I came to college) because they both love tea, and I love tea. My grandmother used to get tea at 4 o’clock every day. That was the time of day when you would take a break and drink some tea and talk about your day and what was happening and the latest news. So I would love to just have tea with them and talk about what’s happening in my life or what’s happening around me.

The happiest day of my life was… when I received my acceptance letter from Rollins. Growing up, I didn’t even know that I was going to finish high school. Most of my aunties and uncles didn’t. Finishing high school was really amazing, but finishing high school and getting accepted to Rollins—I couldn’t even believe it. It took me months to accept that I’d been accepted to a college. That was the happiest day of my life because it was something that growing up I didn’t even think it was possible.

The saddest day of my life was… I have a lot of sad days. This is going to be hard. I’m going to try not to cry. For me, the saddest day of my life was when I found out my mom passed away. It was sad because it was a sudden thing. She just complained about a headache and the next week, I found out she passed away. I wasn’t expecting it.

If I could be anywhere else,… I usually try to be where I am, but there are two places I would be. One would be South Africa because that is where my family is. And two would be Rollins because as much as I miss home, I am happy to be here. Today, I’ll be meeting with a group of my friends and having lunch with some of them, so it makes me happy to be here, but a part of me would love to be home.

I always smile when… another person is happy or another person smiles. When I make somebody happy that makes me happy as well. For example, I just bought tickets for my younger sister to go to a concert. She’s been sending me photos, saying I’m going to the [One Direction] concert! That has been making me happy all week.

The thing that I like about myself the most is… that I can motivate myself and make myself happy even when I’m having a horrible day and there are a lot of things that are going the wrong way. I am just able to tell myself that it’s going to be a good day. “Don’t worry about it because worrying isn’t going to do anything for you.”

The most important person in my life is… my mother because she has taught me a lot of things at a young age. She taught me how important it is to learn how to work with other people because you cannot survive on your own. But she also taught me not to worry about a lot of things, and I think that’s how I handle a lot of things now. I’m happy that I’m able to carry those messages with me.

One of the first things I remember about coming to America is… how busy everybody is. I remember my first week of classes, everybody was just doing, doing, doing things—and that is a little different from what I am used to. In South Africa, people will do things and then maybe take a break, talk to people. I still think people here do too many things. It’s too busy.

One thing people should understand about South Africa is… that it’s very diverse. We’ve got a lot different languages, different cultures.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

Inside her room

1 | Framed photo
This photo of my mother was taken after she got a cooking certificate, which she
was really happy to get.

2 | Rooibos tea
Rooibos is a red bush tea that grows in South Africa. It’s very light and caffeine-free and relaxes me. My grandmother used to love this tea and drank it all the time.

3 | Passport
My South African passport, an airplane ticket, and a few rands. I love traveling.

4 | Beaded jewelry
A beaded necklace and bracelet my mother made for me. In the Zulu culture, a lot of people wear bright, colorful beads at celebrations and important events.

5 | Biscuits
Ouma, which means grandmother in Afrikaans, are my favorite biscuits in South Africa. (I know you call them cookies, but we call them biscuits.) They are traditionally served with tea and remind me of my grandma’s biscuits.