Graduate Returns to Rwanda as School Leader

CONWAY, Ark. (August 14, 2013) – Recent Hendrix graduate Sarah Pullen of Richardson, Texas, will be moving to Rwanda in September to serve as the principal at Nsinda Ikirezi Primary School.

Pullen previously worked at the same school for two months last summer as a volunteer first- and second-grade teacher.

In her new position, Pullen will be living at the school, teaching fifth- and sixth-grade students, acting as the liaison for relations to the United States, and keeping up with the scholarship program she’s running.

In fact, there’s not much she won’t be doing. Pullen will be a teacher, administrator, mentor, businesswoman, publicity specialist, fundraiser, translator, water-fetcher, and professional thank-you note writer.

By law, Pullen and her fellow teachers are required to teach in English, but she is learning to speak Kinyarwanda, the local language, in hopes to decrease the language barrier.

Pullen initially became interested in Rwanda through her friendship with many of the Rwanda Presidential Scholars at Hendrix.

“I absolutely loved Rwanda,” she says. “And throughout my last year in college, I considered many options of what to do with the teaching license I was acquiring and kept returning to the school to teach there as an option since I had developed good relationships with the owners of the school and the other teachers there.”

Originally Pullen just planned on accepting only the headmistress position. However, after thought and prayer, she realized she had access to the richest country in the world and could better help her school if she started ways for people to donate. She teamed up with Commission to Every Nation, an inter-denominational organization that sends out missionaries to wherever they feel called and to pursue whatever they feel called to do as long as it aligns with Christian philosophy. As a licensed non-profit, they allow Pullen to accept donations from individuals in the United States to use at her school.

At some point Pullen might expand the school to include a high school or work with the general education infrastructure in Rwanda but for now, Pullen plans on staying at Nsinda Ikirezi Primary School until her faith calls her elsewhere. 

“Perhaps it fits the most in the way that Hendrix has never been about training someone for a job so much as it’s training for someone as a person,” she says. “That works well for me since I won’t be working a typical ‘job’ anyway.”

To learn more about Pullen’s project, visit sarahpullen.wordpress.com and www.cten.org/sarahpullen

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.