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Monday, April 24, 2017

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'A Princeton Story — Songs from the Heart'

Princeton junior Tanya Tawengwa talks about the many ways in which Princeton has helped her pursue her dream to become a performer. Read more.

Video Closed Captions

My name is the Tanyaradzwa

Ashleigh Tawengwa, and I'm a
junior here at Princeton



grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe,

in the suburbs.

And I'm the last of
seven siblings.

And so life was definitely full
of activity as a child.

A special place for
my family is

definitely our farm in Marondera.

This is a town an hour
out of Harare.

Harare is the capital
city in Zimbabwe.

The farm has been a very special
place, because that's

where my dad and his brothers
and his sister grew up.

And that's where we still
go as children.

My grandparents are
buried there.

My uncles are buried there, and
my brother's buried there.

And so it's definitely a place
that we all go to and love.

Here at Princeton University,
I've been

involved in the Glee Club.

I'm also involved in Umqombothi,
which is

Princeton's African a
cappella ensemble.

I founded that my
freshman year.

I'm also involved in
L'Avant-Scene, which is the

French theater group.

I have been involved in
Sensemaya, the Afrobeat band.

And currently I'm serving as a
residential college adviser in

Rockefeller college.

I didn't know I was applying
for the Adam Award.

I was simply applying for
funding from the Lewis Center,

and I just sent in a proposal
for a project that I had to go

and study ethnomusicology
in Zimbabwe.

And I just gave a budget.

And I remember opening my
email, and it was--

it said, congratulations.

And it's like, you
are this year's

recipient of the Adam Award.

Adam was a member of

the class of 2007.

And during his freshman year he
became very involved with

the arts here at Princeton.

His parents thought that it
would be a great way of

honoring his memory, to create
something at Princeton that

would allow his legacy of
creativity to live on.

Tanya was who talked to us about
her musical studies back

in Zimbabwe.

But one of things that happened
during the course of

her summer was that
she made a CD.

And so all of that was kind
of amazing and moving.

But then came the song.


When I look to you, my world
starts to move, and I can

barely breathe.

When I look to you, my pains
cease to hurt, and

I am free to live.

With that particular song,

"With You," when people listen
to it, I really want them to

know that they're never alone.

I think that it's easy sometimes
to fall into this

pit where you feel like, it's
just you, and no one cares

about how you're feeling.

And you can't be you.

You have to put on a face.

You have to act a
particular way.

And I guess what I express in
that song is with you, you,

who to me, in this context is
God, I'm free to be me.

And honestly, I'm convinced that
for a lot of us, 90% of

the time, we are not being
who we truly are.

And so my message at least in
my music, I pray, is that

people feel encouraged and
liberated to be the people

they were created to be.

Something that I said at one
point was, even though things

get hard at Princeton, this is
where I'm supposed to be.

And what I meant by this was, I
am sure of my place here at

Princeton University.

I am sure that there's a
purpose for me being

here at this time.

And I didn't just wake
up being sure.

I began my journey at Princeton
with a lot of doubt.

I doubted my abilities.

I told you I got off
the wait list.

And so, being here I always
felt like a second class

citizen, well at least
at the beginning.

Until one day I just woke
up, and I said, no.

This is my home.

I belong here.

I'm sure.

You can do it.

You can do it.

You can be exactly who
you want to be.

You can push.

You can work hard, and
you can make it.

[MUSIC - Tanyardzwa Ashleigh
Tawengwa "With You"]

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