What’s Your Story: Cynthia Luyindula

Cynthia Luyindula moved from the Dominican Republic of Congo, to Illinois, and finally Maine, driven by her passion to learn.

Taylor Wildes, Staff Writer

To many, a star is simply known as something that is seen in the sky every night. The stars, the bright shiny, twinkling dots that help light up the atmosphere above us. For Cynthia Luyindula, however, a star brings up a different meaning: a memory from a past place she grew up in.

Luyindula grew up in Kinshasa in the Dominican Republic of Congo in Africa. “Etoile” is what she knows a star as– a word derived from French. Etoile was the way her hair had to be braided at her school back in the Congo, in the shape of a star.

In July, Luyindula, a junior at Biddeford High School, moved from Illinois to here in Maine for reasons all beneficial to her and her family, but the place she truly calls home is back in the Dominican Republic of Congo in Africa.

Family is something she values a lot. She says she tries to learn new words in languages to be able to communicate with her family members who speak different languages. She also calls her siblings her best friends.

“She is very kind but she is also very quiet,” Luyindula’s brother, Eunice Ndiwulu said.

Luyindula may keep to herself, but once she gets to talking, she has a story to tell, one that involves long distances traveled.

“When I was a kid, I was always telling my parents I want to live where people speak English,” Luyindula said.

Her and her family got the chance to make Luyindula’s dream come true when her dad made the decision to move to the United States.

Luyindula enjoys learning new languages, aside from her main languages English and French, she tries to learn new words in different languages including Portuguese, Lingala, Latin, and is currently attempting to learn some Korean.

“I am just interested in languages,” Luyindula said.

Luyindula enjoys learning new languages this way and says she never watches movies in a language she already knows.

“I just like to learn,” said Luyindula. “Right now I always watch movies in Korean.”

Compared to schools here in the US, the Congo is very different.

“There was no multiple choice; you could not retake the test if you fail either.” Luyindula said.

Showing up late to class or not following dress code would result in you being sent home for the rest of the day.

Along with their hair having to be braided in an “etoile,” they also were required to wear certain color and length clothing.

All schools in the Congo are private and have strict rules.

“I was at a Catholic school,” said Luyindula.  It wasn’t that expensive it was around $250, but people in Africa don’t have a lot of money like people do here, so for a lot of people it was expensive.”

Luyindula’s school in the Congo would be in session Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m to 12:15 p.m.  At first, the transition to our schools longer days was hard for her, but she got used to it.

But what she didn’t get used to was the lack of closeness in our communities compared to her home back in the Congo.

Luyindula especially misses the sense of togetherness throughout in the Congo’s apartment buildings.

“That is like your family (the other residents), sometimes when your mom cooks you can share the food with the others, and sometimes when the others cook they give you food,” said Luyindula.” “That doesn’t really happen here.”

Luyindula lived in Illinois for about a year and a half. This past summer her and her family moved here to Biddeford Maine. A decision Luyindula said was influenced by inhabitants of Maine.

“My dads friends live here, and they told him Maine is beautiful,” Luyindula said.

Luyindula says the atmosphere and environment at Biddeford High School is very different compared to the school she previously came from in Illinois, which had a lot of fights and was not as clean.

“Everybody is nice here and nobody is bullying people,” Luyindula said.

Luyindula especially enjoys the students and teachers at the school.

“There is a lot of great teachers here (BHS),” said Luyindula. “All the students are hard working, they’re nice,  and they care about each other and support each other.”

In the Congo, there was a limited selection of classes to choose from. Luyindula now enjoys painting within her schedule, but when she lived in the Congo she was unable to. She would have had to pay to attend a separate school for painting and the arts called, “Academie de beaux art.”

“When I was in elementary school I was always drawing in my notebook; it made me happy when I was doing it,” Luyindula said.

At her school in the Congo, she was taking only the basic classes like, English, Biology Chemistry, Math, Gym, and Health.

In the Congo, the classes students choose are geared towards their career in the future. At the time, Luyindula wanted to be a journalist, but once she moved to Illinois,when she was 17, she found a passion for a different career.

“I really like science and human body, I’m just curious,” Luyindula said.

When her mom ended up in the hospital Luyindula saw a career of which she wanted to pursue. A career that involved her love for science and the human body, nursing.

“I saw that nurses are really nice people; they were nice to everyone,” said Luyindula. I just liked it; they were really taking good care of my mom.”

Luyindula, as a senior at BHS, has applied to Southern Maine Community College and–if accepted-plans to pursue to get a degree with something in the nursing career.

Her passion to learn is put in a simple motto that helps her succeed.

“When you like something enough, even if it is hard it’ll make it easier for you to learn quickly.”