Mandela Scholars on ice!

Five international students, including the two current Mandela Scholars, recently took time out of their studies to enjoy a festive afternoon adventure on the ice rink at the iconic Brighton landmark, the Royal Pavilion.

Five students standing together and smiling at the edge of the ice rink at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Left to right: Litha Mpondwana and Mpogi Mafoko from South Africa, Saradha Krishnamoorthy from India, Marley Dizney Swanson from America and Uchenna Ndubuisi from Nigeria

For international students, coming to Sussex means far more than simply studying for a degree; it offers a transformational opportunity to experience life in a different country, to live amongst a richly diverse community and to enjoy a wealth of new adventures.

We took five scholars for some festive fun on the ice rink at the iconic landmark, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton: Litha Mpondwana and Mpogi Mafoko, Mandela Scholars from South Africa; Saradha Krishnamoorthy, a Margaret Sharp Scholar from India, Marley Dizney Swanson a US Friends Scholar from America, and Uchenna Ndubuisi a John Kinghorn Scholar from Nigeria.

For some of the students it was their first time on the ice, and they all enjoyed skating in the shadow of Brighton’s historic royal palace:

“Thank you so much for the wonderful afternoon and helping us have an amazing time. I am deeply thankful to be here at Sussex. Thank you for bringing us all together in the most fun way,” Saradha enthused.

Thankfully, they all survived the ice skating so could return to their studies!

We know from our international alumni that they treasure the memories of their time living and studying at Sussex. Despite being away from family and friends, the current Mandela Scholars, Mpogi and Litha, hope the festive period will bring them more lasting and happy memories to take with them when they return to South Africa.

Litha explained; “Typically, I spend the festive season with my family. I work and live 500 miles away from them, so I don’t get to go home as often as I would like. This year, I plan to spend Christmas in Brighton with some friends, and then travel to another part of the UK after New Year’s Day.”

For Mpogi, the Christmas holidays are also usually family-centric; “I come from a big family on both sides so the festive season is filled with lots of travel. Usually, there’ll be time spent in the provinces of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and every now and then Limpopo. But it’s a time reserved for loads of family interaction and braais [BBQs].

“This year, I’ll be spending lots of time with my flatmates, friends and fellow South Africans who will also be in Brighton for the winter break. I’ll definitely go to London to see friends from back home and I’m planning to go up to Manchester to visit another friend. Besides all of that, the overriding objective of this festive season is to see some snow and make snow angels because I’ve never had the chance to do that!”

Both Litha and Mpogi see the Mandela Scholarship as an opportunity to gain knowledge and experiences that will enrich their lives:

“More than anything, for me this Scholarship has been about access. Access to great experiences and a world-class education, access to well-respected academic staff, access to a diverse student body and access to a plethora of opinions and perspectives. I don’t think I could ever say thank you enough times to all of the alumni who donate to the Mandela Scholarship. Through them, the door to a different life has opened up for me.” comments Mpogi.

Litha echoes Mpogi’s sentiments, saying:

“The Scholarship plays an incredibly important role in opening up opportunities for promising students. Knowing that previous Mandela Scholars have gone on to do such great things and to have such a profound impact in their home countries just goes to prove that those alumni who support the Scholarship are making a great investment.”

Will you make a festive gift this season to support the Mandela Scholarship and help create more opportunities for South Africans to study at Sussex?

P.s. If you tried any unusual extra-curricular activities during your time at Sussex, we’d love to hear from you, especially in our 60th anniversary year! You can email us with your stories and photographs.

It was such a fun day. The more people I meet from Sussex, the luckier I feel to be here. It’s such a joy to be surrounded by such incredible people.” marley dizney swanson
conflict, security and development ma 2021