[Transcript of interview with Sandra Sorbo, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]

John Rutherford:  My name is John Rutherford and I’m the host of the Recollections and Connections Project.  Today is March 2, 2010, and today I’m talking with Sandra Sorbo.  Sandra, what would you like to talk about today?

Sandra Sorbo:  Hello, John.  I would like to talk about my families.  I have several different distinct groups of families.  First of all, there’s my biological family and I am so fortunate to be in the family that I am.  Our family has always gotten along very well together; we all love each other and support each other.  And my parents were ministers in Pennsylvania when I was born and then three years later they had another girl and that’s my sister, Arlene.  And then we had a bit of an interruption where we moved from Pennsylvania to India.  And in India my second sister was born.  Her name is Kay.  In my biological family included, includes aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, and so on.  And many of us are friends; we’re not just relatives, we’re really friends and that seems like a good thing to me. 

Another family that I have is my school family.  When we went to India, I went to a boarding school.  There were a couple of hundred kids there, mostly Americans, some Indians, some from other European countries.  My best friend at school was Snookie.  She was from Greece and she used to write letters to her mother and show me and all I could recognize was where my name was on the piece of paper.  She wouldn’t tell me what she said about me.  By the way, this boarding school is in India, in Kodaikanal, up in the mountains where it’s nice weather.  My parents had to suffer on the plains where they were working in the heat.  But we had pretty good weather up in the mountains where the school was.  Now, because we lived together all the time in boarding school, we got to be very good friends with classmates.  And that has remained until this day.  We write, call, e-mail, now we’re doing Facebook and trying to keep in touch with each other.  We’ve had several class reunions in Colorado, because the weather, the temperature and the weather and the climate there is similar to Kodai, so that’s why we chose Colorado.  Besides the fact that it’s about in the center of the country because people come from all over.  And, oh, we’re planning our fiftieth class reunion in 2011, so that’s something that everybody’s looking forward to. 

Well, my third family is my Evangel family.  When I started to college I had one semester at Evangel, then I decided that I wanted to major in physical education.  I’d been involved in sports all my life; that was just logical.  Problem was Evangel didn’t have a physical education major.  So I went back east, I went to Youngstown State University in Ohio, stayed with my aunt and my grandparents there.  Well one summer, my parents were home from India on furlow, and my sister was ready to start college, so they were going to be driving her to Springfield to go to Central Bible College.  My school hadn’t started yet, so I came along just to join them and help drive.  While we were here we were staying with a friend, who was a missionary in India, and a mutual friend that taught at Evangel College called her one afternoon and asked her, do you have any idea how we can get a hold of Sandra Sorbo?  And she said, well, she’s staying at my house right now.  So I gathered up my things and went over to the dean’s office at Evangel and I was hired as a teacher at Evangel College.  It’s now Evangel University.  We’ve gotten more sophisticated.  So, I have been in contact for a long time, the longest amount of time, with the Evangel family.  The faculty, the staff, the people that work there at the university are, many of them are good friends, and the students, they’re the important part of an educational institution and I feel like we’ve had very good students at Evangel University.  If they weren’t good when they came, we made them good when they left.  So, I have probably had thousands of children because all of my students were like children to me.  So, especially when I was coaching; we would have slumber parties and all kinds of things like that, but to have the team over to my house and we got very close to the students and many of them still call me, or write me, or I might see them at homecoming at Evangel and they’re so excited to see me.  And I think that’s wonderful.  I feel like I had a chance to influence many lives through the work that I did at Evangel.  Hopefully, it was positive influence.  So those are my three families.

John Rutherford:  When you first went to Evangel, how did it look different from today?

Sandra Sorbo:  Very different.  When I first went the only permanent building on the campus was the gymnasium, and all of the other buildings were housed in former hospital buildings.  It was O’Reilly Hospital for the war veterans.  Some of our classrooms had been operating rooms; they had tile all around the walls and the floor.  And it was a number of buildings interconnected with walkways and hallways.  You could get to every place on campus except the gymnasium by going in the hallways or the walkways, which was nice, but the buildings were not.  Through the years we have done a lot of work there building up the campus and putting in new buildings to house the various aspects of the school and it’s very professional looking now.  So, that was, that was something that was quite, quite a change.

John Rutherford:  When did your family move to India approximately?

Sandra Sorbo:  We went to India in 1951, I believe.  I was seven at the time.  When we arrived in India we had to take the train down south to the city where we were going to be staying.  It was a three-day trip on the train, and on that trip I had my eighth birthday.  So that’s a birthday that always stands out to me.

John Rutherford:  You mentioned taking a train overland, but how did you arrive at India?

Sandra Sorbo:  Well, we arrived by ship.  We, at that time air travel was quite expensive, so ocean travel was the most economical way to travel.  The only problem was, it takes a long time.  Several of the trips back and forth between the U. S. and India were made on different ships.  One trip took almost three months.  I wasn’t on that trip; I was home in the States, but my parents and younger sister were on the ship and they got stopped along the way and couldn’t make their way through and it, they were on that ship for almost three months, I think it was.

John Rutherford:  So then, you have been a teacher since you came back to the United States, pretty much.

Sandra Sorbo:  Yes, yes I have.

John Rutherford:  Has it always been at Evangel?

Sandra Sorbo:  Yes.

John Rutherford:  Really?  Ok.

Sandra Sorbo:  That was the first and last job that I had.

John Rutherford:  You’re very lucky to have found a job you loved so well to stay so long.  Wow!

Sandra Sorbo:  Yes.  There were times when I wondered about it, but seems like that’s where God wanted me, and so that’s where I stayed.

John Rutherford:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Sandra Sorbo:  Well, I could continue talking all day about India, but I don’t think you really want that.  I don’t know how I could forget to talk about all of the sports that I was involved with at Evangel University.  I taught classes for the physical education major.  They were theory courses, classroom courses, some activity but mostly book, a lot of book learning.  My favorite class that I taught was kinesiology, and that’s the study of movement.  We studied the bones and the muscles and how they act, what they do, what causes the bone to move a certain way and how you can increase the strength and this sort of thing. But I was involved with coaching for most of the time that I was at Evangel.  When we started out I was the only woman physical education teacher slash coach, so one year I coached all five sports that we had for women.  I had volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, softball, tennis, and track in the spring.  That was a real challenge because I would run from the tennis courts to the track area down to the softball field back up to the track.  I only did that one year, then I wised up and I got some part-time people to help with a couple of those sports.  But I have enjoyed all of the sports and the athletes that I’ve been involved with at Evangel.  My favorite one was volleyball.  That was the sport that I coached the longest, and the last one that I was coaching before I decided that I couldn’t handle it anymore.

John Rutherford:  Thank you very much.  I really appreciate you coming in today and sharing your memories.  You have very different memories from the other folks I’ve talked to so far.  That’s wonderful.  Thank you so much.

Sandra Sorbo:  You’re welcome.  I enjoyed it.

[Transcript of interview with Sandra Sorbo, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]