This week, we chat with Eric Ndikumana, a Concord High senior from Burundi. As a refugee, Ndikumana grew up in Tanzania and he has been in Concord for three years.
What was your first impression of America?
I was really surprised at how people looked and treated me when I first came here. It's very different than what I expected. I started school right away when we got here. It was so hard because I did not know any English. It forced me to learn English quickly though, which is a good thing. Now I am fluent. I worked hard and the teachers really helped me.
Who did you come here with?
My parents and several younger brothers.
How do you like Concord?
It's really nice and peaceful. I have a lot of friends in the community.
What do you do when you are not in school?
I am a musician. I write music and sing and perform. I have recorded several songs, which are available on CD. I sing in Burundi/Kinyarwanda (my first language), and also in Swahili and English. I have several of my music videos on YouTube.
You grew up in a refugee camp. How did you get into playing music and performing your songs?
When I was a kid, I always saw other musicians living in the camp, singing and making up songs, and dancing. It was a way to be happy in tough surroundings. And when I saw them, I thought, "Someday, I will do that, too." When I got older, I started writing songs about my life. I have a friend who lives in New York and he produces music videos. So recently, I went out there and had the opportunity to record a lot of my music and make some videos.
Where do you hope to be doing in the future?
Well, I am a senior now. I want to go to NHTI when I graduate. I hopefully will get a job, too, maybe in a restaurant. And I will keep writing my music and hopefully get more opportunities to perform at shows, or festivals. It's what I love to do.
To check out Ndikumana's music video, visit http://bit.ly/hgGq8c. He performs under the rap name Donny B.