Sr. Barbara Reynolds, Tanzanian English Instructor
I am Sister Barbara Reynolds. I was born at Hotel Dieu, a hospital in El Paso, Texas on October 11, 1949, the first child of George and Charlotte Reynolds. Over the next ten years, my parents had seven more children so I have five brothers and two sisters. Later, my family accepted three additional children, so I also have two foster brothers and a foster sister.
My father was a physician, and for about 10 years he worked as a medical corps physician in various U. S. Army hospitals, both in the U.S. and Germany. When he left the Army, Dad started a residency in psychiatry with the V. A. Hospital system, which required that he study and work at four different hospitals to complete his training. Our family moved frequently to be with my father. Consequently, I went to five different schools for first through eighth grades. On my 14th birthday, we moved into my 15th house! After moving so often, I was very happy we did not have to move while I was in secondary school. I completed four years of high school at Mount Aviat Academy in Childs, Md. After graduating from high school in 1967, I went to Saint Louis University, where I majored in mathematics.
I have always been curious about how things work. Almost as soon as I could talk, I was asking the question, “Why?” I have always been interested in science and math. By the time I was five years old, my mother thought I would be a teacher, probably a university professor. Her expectation proved to be true: I started teaching mathematics in 1972. I taught for one year at Dowdell Junior High School in Tampa, Fla., and then went to Ghana, West Africa to teach for two years with the Peace Corps.
When I returned to the United States in 1975, I accepted a teaching fellowship at Saint Louis University, my alma mater, to pursue graduate studies in mathematics. While in graduate school, I met several Salvatorian Sisters who were also studying at Saint Louis University. By the time I completed graduate studies in 1979 I had decided to enter the Sisters of the Divine Savior. I looked for a university teaching position in southeast Wisconsin, so I could move to Milwaukee. I entered the Sisters of the Divine Savior that year and began teaching at Cardinal Stritch College (now Cardinal Stritch University). I made first vows on September 3, 1983, and final vows on July 31, 1994.
In summer 2011, I went to Masasi, Tanzania with Sr. Virginia Honish, SDS for our Educational Initiative to help our local sisters improve their skills in speaking and writing English. It turned out my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana was good preparation for living and working with our sisters in Tanzania. Even though the cultures and languages are quite different, the skills I developed in Ghana helped me to be attentive to the culture in Tanzania. In Ghana, I had learned to listen very carefully to what people meant even when I could not understand their languages. It has helped me begin to understand Swahili, and to be a better English teacher.
In October of 2012, I had the opportunity to serve as a recording secretary at our XX General Chapter in Rome. At that Chapter, our sisters made a commitment that each sister would learn another language of our Congregation. For our Tanzanian sisters who speak Swahili and begin to learn English in secondary school, it meant they would work to improve their English. I was asked to continue the Tanzania Educational Initiative. At that same Chapter, our sisters from the Democratic Republic of Congo decided to join our sisters in Masasi, which has greatly enriched our English class!