Created in 1983 by Hugh Cullman '42, the Cullman Scholarship Program supports students in off-campus study opportunities. During the summer of 2017, nine scholarship recipients pursued courses of study ranging from serving as a medical intern in Mongolia to doing hands-on Animal Rehabilitation in South Africa. Recently, Liesel '18 gave a presentation at All School Meeting about her Cullman Scholarship working at an all-girls school in Rwanda.
Last June, I had the privilege of traveling to Rwanda for 6 weeks to work at Maranyundo Girls School. Run by a Rwandan order of Roman Catholic nuns called the Benebikira Sisters, Maranyundo welcomes Rwandan girls ages 12-18 from all walks of life and gives them the opportunity to obtain an education. Several years ago, I met the head of the school, Sister Juvenal, and her words about the Rwandan genocide and the mission of her school left a lasting impression on me. Four years later, I finally had the opportunity to act on my desire to help the cause.
The 41 days I spent in Nyamata, the village where Maranyundo is located, consisted of teaching English classes, completing chores around the school, and tutoring the girls during their nightly study hours. Every day was a different adventure. I often woke up wondering whether the electricity was working or the water was running, and if there would be any clean drinking water in the buckets outside the cafeteria. As the weeks passed, I grew accustomed to these challenges and, as I look back, I realize that some of the best moments of my trip were eating cold rice and beans for lunch with the girls. The energy, passion, and determination of the girls never ceased to amaze me and made teaching them a life-changing experience.
Through my interactions with the girls, I came to learn that many of them had relatives that had been killed during the genocide. When I visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center later on in the trip, it was an emotional experience. Observing the interactions between the Rwandan people left me with a respect and admiration for these people who have shown that their hearts’ ability to love and forgive has no limit.
I have so much love for the 400 incredible girls that treated me like family. I hope that one day I can go back and continue to teach at Maranyundo in the future. I am deeply thankful to the Cullman family for allowing me to have this life-changing experience.
Thank you, Liesel, for sharing your experience and stay tuned for more Cullman Scholar news.
Founded in 1813, Kimball Union Academy is one of the oldest private boarding high schools in New Hampshire and the country. KUA blends the best of the New England boarding tradition with an innovative, modern educational program for a diverse group of day and boarding students from across the country and around the world. Located in Meriden, New Hampshire in the heart of the Upper Valley, Kimball Union is minutes from Dartmouth College and has direct access to Boston and New York.