Alex Perullo considers Julius Nyerere, the former president of Tanzania, the most influential person in his career. In his 40 Under Forty application, Perullo described Nyerere as “a passionate, dedicated and creative leader … who promoted education and literacy as avenues to prosperity.”
Perullo, an associate professor of anthropology and African studies at Bryant University, first became interested in African culture – particularly its arts and music industry – when he studied in Madagascar while earning his undergraduate degree.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and international affairs from the University of New Hampshire, he continued along the path of education at Indiana University where he received both a master’s and Ph.D. in ethnomusicology and folklore.
Perullo has come to embody some of those same ideals he sees in Nyerere.
In 2008, Perullo founded the Tanzania Education Resource Network, a nonprofit organization of Bryant students under Perullo’s leadership. The organization aims to provide academic support to Tanzania in the form of K-12 textbooks and scholarships.
Perullo is also the founder and leader of the African Studies Workshops, which began in 2007. The annual event is held in partnership with the African Alliance of Rhode Island and the Providence Public Library and funded by Bryant University.
As an educator, the 37-year-old Perullo was one of six around the world to receive the Award for Innovative Teaching from Aluka, a nonprofit collaborative that provides a digital archive of resources about and from Africa.
A Fulbright scholar fluent in French and Swahili, he has been a guest speaker at conferences around the world. •