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Fulbright Scholar scholarships are a prestigious honor based on academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership in a candidate’s field, and the potential to foster long-term cooperation between countries. For Kind Twagilimana, professor at Buffalo State College English, the Fulbright served an even greater purpose: it saved his life.

In 1992, the native of Rwanda was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study English in the doctoral program at the University of Buffalo (UB).

“If I had not obtained this scholarship, I would not have fled Rwanda before genocide against the Tutsi, ”said Twagilimana, who previously obtained a BA and MA in English from the National University of Rwanda and an MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Reading in the UK.

The 1994 genocide resulted in the deaths of a million people, mainly Tutsis, including Twagilimana’s father. Eventually, Twagilimana was able to deal with some of the horror by writing books, including The debris of Ham: ethnicity, regionalism and the Rwandan genocide of 1994 (2003) and the novel Collector destruction (1996).

Twagilimana received a Fulbright scholarship or scholarship no less than four times during his career. At UB, he exploded in his studies, completing his doctorate in American Literature and Critical Theory in just three years. The day after defending his thesis, August 31, 1995, he entered an English class in Buffalo State, and remained there, reaching full professor level in 2004.

Throughout his tenure, he maintained close ties with Africa. Shortly after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2006, he was selected as a Fulbright Fellow to teach American Literature at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, for the 2008-2009 academic year.

“I am proud of those times because several of the students I supervised obtained doctorates,” he said, “including at universities in Senegal, the United States and Belgium”.

From 2009 to 2013, he was visiting professor at the University of Kibungo in the eastern province of Rwanda.

In 2014, he received a Fulbright to teach language and linguistics courses at the College of Education of the University of Rwanda. During this period, he also conducted research on Rwandan history, economic development, financial institutions and international relations for an encyclopedia project.

“In 2009, Rwanda switched from French to English as its language of instruction,” he said. “It was a difficult time for many elementary and secondary teachers and university professors who had taught in French for decades.”

During his stay, he also advised the university and its board of trustees on best practices in university governance and assisted his colleagues in developing and revising the curricula that train primary and secondary teachers. .

All of these experiences influenced his teaching at Buffalo State.

“I have included more African writers in my program,” he said, “and invited African academics to speak to my students for getting to know them through the Fulbright experience.”


This press release was produced by Buffalo State College. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


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