International student shares experiences
Although far from her home in Windhoek, Namibia, Suzette Eises looked right at home as she danced with a newly made friend at the Cultural Association Kick-Off Night.
Even though she has only completed her first semester at BYU-Idaho, Eises, a freshman studying music, is highly involved as the vice president of the African Heritage Association.
“As I have gotten to know her more, [Eises] just continues to show me just how awesome and genuine she is,” said the association’s president, Phylicia Jimenez, a sophemore studying apparel construction.
Not only did Eises spend time at her own booth, she also made friends with others by dancing, playing a flute and talking to people.
Being comfortable as the center of attention wasn’t always easy for Eises. When she first came to the school she felt lonely because she didn’t know anyone.
“I came into my shell because it was so different. Americans have such a different culture,” Eises said about her first moments in Rexburg.
According to BYU-I’s statistical page, when Eises started at BYU-I in spring 2012, she became the first student from Namibia to attend since Fall semester 2001. Although she felt alone, Eises made the decision to get involved and make friends with everyone she met. She was surprised to find that there were several students from the Republic of South Africa, which has a similar culture and heritage to Namibia, having been one country until Namibia gained independence from the Republic of South Africa on March 21, 1990.
Getting a higher education was important to Eises. She said she was greatly influenced by her mother.
“She used to go to university without shoes because she was so poor; she’s always telling me that,” Eises said.
Her mother, now a doctor in Namibia, instilled the importance of education in Eises and her siblings.
Being the youngest, Eises watched as her brother and sisters moved to South Africa and other areas to pursue educational opportunities and waited for her turn to make a difference in the world.
As an aspiring saxophone player, Eises hopes to discover all she can and take back what she has learned to Namibia.
Eises is part of a small population of Namibians who play the saxophone, and one of only a few of who are extending it beyond a hobby.