Kondwani Banda ′14


Hometown: Lusaka, Zambia
Major: Undeclared
Fun Fact: Kondwani′s hobby is photography.

You are a freshman and involved with the Bonner Program coming all the way from Zambia. What brought you to Rhodes?
I wanted to apply to schools in the U.S. mainly to break out of my comfort zone and to see what this country is all about. I think I did it mainly to get a rounded view of the world, and a great education from Rhodes that I could use back home. When I came here I realized that it’s not all like New York and L.A., the places we see mostly on T.V. – I see many problems here that are exactly the same back home. America does have poor people, and that is something I never thought was true – as crazy as that sounds.

I was doing work with UNICEF and the Children’s Radio Foundation, and the executive director of CRF recommended that I look at Rhodes. Admissions told me about several scholarships that were available when I applied, and Bonner was the one I thought would suit me the best because it is service-based and would fit well given my background so I applied and fortunately got accepted.

What is the Bonner Program like?
Sometimes…it’s a little hard to get in your 140 hours of community service per semester and also get amazing grades, but it’s a way to relax – that’s the way I look at community service. It’s a way to step away from campus for a bit in order to get the full college experience. 

What service do you do through Bonner?
I do a program called PeaceJam through an organization called Bridges whose aim is to build a community of leaders to advance racial, economic, educational and environmental justice. Basically we visit high schools each week where we teach the kids a curriculum and organize a larger project with them that we implement at the end of the year. 

This summer I did an internship with the Children’s Radio Foundation in South Africa. This is an organization that simply uses the power of communication to enable children from diverse backgrounds to give their stance on socio-economic and political matters affecting them. I hope that throughout my Rhodes career and afterwards, I will still be able to do work with the CRF and UNICEF, and hopefully set up a strong program between the organizations and Rhodes. 

After Rhodes, I plan on going to journalism graduate school, or maybe take some time off to volunteer and work with CRF, UNICEF, or another non-profit involved in communication.

What did you think of your first year here?
I’ve enjoyed it. I think first semester was kind of a battle for everyone, as the students leave home and find out what it takes to live independently and succeed. I would tell the freshman to get to know a couple of upperclassmen because they know what’s going on. They know the classes and the professors and they’ve ‘been around.’ But, it was a truly great experience. I made deep connections with my professors, made great friends, learned so much about cultures of the USA, and discovered a lot about myself too.

This year, I will be an RA and I look forward to meeting my residents, and hopefully guiding them through their freshmen year. I am optimistic about my next three years at Rhodes. It will be fantastic.