Susan (Susana) Carpenter

Years in service: 2014-2019
Country: Tanzania
City: Mwanza
Focus: Education and Pastoral Care
Project(s): 1) Literacy Education for Adults; 2) Scholars Program for Vulnerable Youth
People Served: 1) Adults from Mabatini (Maryknoll) Parish; 2) Youth from Mwanza

Project Goal(s): 1) Teach literacy (reading, writing, and basic math) to adults in Mwanza who have not had the gift of education;  2) Provide education to six highly motivated yet handicapped and destitute children and young adults by enrolling them in appropriate schools and providing mentorship.

Current Ministry:

Susan developed and taught a well-rounded, creative program in Kiswahili literacy and basic math to adults in Mwanza. Her students ranged in age from 13 to about 75. All of her students were impoverished, and most had come to Mwanza from rural areas in search of work. Being illiterate is a hardship in many ways; on a practical level, it severely limits one’s possibilities for employment. Some entered the classroom unemployed; others have found simple jobs such as selling peanuts, doing laundry, or giving rides on rented motorcycles. These adults enjoy learning, like a challenge, and are quick students! And are very grateful for this opportunity. Together, each class session ends with prayer and warm good-byes.

Over the years, Susan made many home visits to students’ families. In the course of these visits, she met several children and youth who were highly motivated but handicapped or suffering extreme hardships, which derailed their opportunities for schooling. She was able to select appropriate schools for six of these students, and periodically visited them to provide good counsel.
Personal Data:

Susan is from San Francisco, CA., the daughter and granddaughter of educators. She has taught children for over 25 years, mostly in Bay Area Catholic schools for impoverished or immigrant children from many cultures. Susan is also a trained and experienced Waldorf teacher and teacher of adult immigrants in English as a Second Language. She has been happy to develop enrichment programs wherever she has taught, and has often worked as a religious education leader at her schools. She also enjoyed several years as Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Susan received a B.A. in Humanities from Dominican University of California, summa cum laude, and an M.A. in Theology from the Graduate Theological University, California. She has three teaching certificates: one as a K-12 multi-subject teacher, one as a Waldorf teacher and one as a teacher of English as a Second Language.

Susan was a founding member of an ecumenical lay community in Berkeley, and also lived and worked as a lay woman with Sisters for many years. She enjoyed visiting and participating in short-term mission in Guatemala, Mexico, and Nepal before joining Maryknoll Lay Missioners and coming to Tanzania.