Beans & Rice for the Soul

teaching, learning and living around the world

Ride, boldly ride

Last July, I started a new job as Associate Director of Teacher Training for Bridge International Academies.  We build and operate low cost private schools in Kenya and Uganda.  Right now we have several hundred academies (pre-school through 8th grade) and train around 1,000 teachers every few months.  It’s big.  And it’s awesome.  I split my time between Boston and Kenya.  Right now I’m in Kenya studying our best teachers so that I can incorporate what we learn into our teacher training program.

Right before I left I gave a short career talk to the fellows in our office. To prepare for it I was looking through old blog posts and re-read a comment from my dad.  He quoted the closing lines of one of his favorite Edgar Allen Poe poems.

“Ride, boldly ride,”

The shade replied,

“To seek for Eldorado!”

That pretty much sums up my career so far.  The past few days have been particularly awesome.  Here’s why:

I’m learning a lot by seeing/listening/questioning teachers, kids and AMs. I get to see the game, live. It’s front row seats AND a back stage pass.


This team, too.  Wow it’s a good crew.  Carol with the numbers. Victor and Harrison with so much great insight. They are FEARLESS in sharing what they really think.  They are true Kenyan partners and that is something to be CHERISHED.  We were just talking in the car today about how hard that is to find and I just feel so grateful to be working with this group.  All three add value. All three very likeable.
In Goma, I was trying to dig into so many of these same questions… but I went in alone and the truth is… I failed to learn as much as I wanted to. I remember when I first interviewed for Bridge I said that my two big takeaways from that failure were I need a team and I need data. So the fact that I’m doing it all again, studying teachers, with this team and with this data is just absolutely incredible.


Just being here is huge for me too.  Romping around in a Pajero, seeing Lake Nakuru in the distance, breathing fresh air surrounded by tea plantations, speaking swahili, getting dusty, being warmly welcomed at the training site… all that.  I mean look at this! This isn’t even filtered!


 Tea plantations in Kiambu County

7 comments on “Ride, boldly ride

  1. sarah sensamaust
    February 4, 2015

    Question. Is there any sort of talk about expanding this beyond Kenya and Uganda. Francophone Africa, for example?

    • Sara Rich
      February 4, 2015

      Great Q! This fall we will open in Nigeria and in 2016 India. I hope at some point we’ll cross over into the Francophone world, but not sure!

      Our official blurb is, “Ten years from now we plan to be the global leader in providing education to families who live on $2 a day per person or less. We will be operating in at least a dozen countries, and have 10,000,000 pupils coming to class every day.”

      • sarah sensamaust
        February 4, 2015

        I’ve read a bit about this organization and find it really fascinating. Because if something is broken in Africa, it’s schools. The way it is, sometimes I feel like kids are better off not going. And I think that’s what most folks in the West don’t understand. It’s not like if kids can just pay for and attend school they’ll be okay. Hmmm, I wish we could have a real conversation about this.

  2. Sara Rich
    February 4, 2015

    I agree fully! Just yesterday I was asking myself which is worse- no teacher or a mean teacher. At this point I think no teacher! And I would LOVE to have a real convo about this! Let’s skype sometime!

  3. Lonnie Rich (Dad)
    February 4, 2015

    I love it when you quote my quotes from E A Poe. In addition to ride, boldly ride, there is another injunction from W C Bryant’s Thanatopsis — “So live . . ” That is what you are doing — living bold.

  4. Harlene Clayton
    February 4, 2015

    You are living a bold and rich life.
    I enjoy reading your post and about all
    the awesome adventures.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Harlene Clayton

  5. Monica R Clear
    February 5, 2015

    Thanks for this write-up, Sara. I’m slowly getting the picture of your (life’s) work…and it’s great.

    Glad to hear about India!

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This entry was posted on February 4, 2015 by in humanities, inspiration, life, teaching, travel.
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