On a mission: Resident Evelyn Calderwood’s teaching career in Pakistan
At the age of 25, resident Evelyn Calderwood and her husband Don were given an opportunity of a lifetime.
“We were asked by the mission board of the Presbyterian church to go to Pakistan for five years and start a school for the children of missionaries. I don’t think we had an original plan. We were just going to do it and see how it turned out,” said Evelyn.
They stayed for 34 years. The school was located in the foothills of the Himalayas and “was a beautiful setting. We had children of all denominations and nationalities. We started the school up to the eighth grade and every year we added another grade, so it eventually went up through high school.”
Don started out as the principal of the school, but his role changed as the school grew. Evelyn focused her teaching on junior high math.
“Usually when people hear ‘junior high’ and ‘math’ they throw up their hands. I often say, ‘junior high kids want to act like children but be treated like adults.’ I really enjoyed teaching math. I’ve always enjoyed figuring out ways to make it understandable for kids.”
Evelyn’s experience overseas taught her that there’s a big difference in teaching at a boarding school vs. teaching at a public school—which she did for three years in Abilene before moving to Pakistan.
“The actual classroom teaching wasn’t much different. The difference was that overseas we were well-acquainted with not only the students but with their parents. We knew them on different levels because we were involved in all the activities with the kids because we lived with them.”
Over time, the Calderwoods learned to speak the main Pakistani language, Urdu, and raised three children there. They also enjoyed escaping the Himalayas for warmer climates when the school went on winter break.
“In the winter, the Himalayas would get feet and feet of snow, so we had the whole winter as our summer vacation and then started school again in March. For vacation, we’d go down to the Indian Ocean and would rent a beach hut with another family. The sea turtles were so big the kids would take rides on them!”
Evelyn’s path to becoming a teacher wasn’t quite as adventurous.
“Back in those days, there were only two or three professions that educated women could do. One was teaching, one was nursing and the other was secretarial. I thought I would be a teacher, and after I started I liked it.”
Evelyn grew up in Kansas City, Kan., and was married to Don for almost 59 years before he passed away in 2015. Together they had three sons, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Evelyn enjoys getting her fix of Pakistani food at the local Passage to India restaurant.