Unlike most young women in Canada at the time who pursued teaching or nursing, Barbara was drawn to an uncharted path and destined for a unique career. 

A year after graduating from college, she arrived in India overland via England. She was hired by Save the Children to set up a home for toddlers of Tibetan refugees who had fled the Chinese occupation of Tibet in Shimla, Northern India. The home, called Sterling Castle, was housed in a huge old house used by British officers. By 1967, when Sterling Castle’s children were transferred to a middle school or were reunited with their parents, she started looking into studying anthropology at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).