This is the seventeenth article in Bears Doing Big Things, a weekly column celebrating the stories of notable M-A alumni. Read last week’s article here.
After graduating from college, Christine Williams saved up money while working odd jobs, including a stint at Café Borrone, before spontaneously buying a large backpack and a one-way ticket to Mexico. “I had no idea what I was doing,” she said. “I just wanted to see the world. I’m not much of a planner when it comes to travel—I usually just go with the flow.” She ended up traveling around Mexico, then Guatemala, and then Nicaragua and Panama, embarking on what became an 8-year-long trip around the world. While exploring Central and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia, Williams stayed in hostels, hitchhiked, started her own marketing business and a successful travel blog, and met her current husband while working at a Peruvian nonprofit organization.
Williams’ adventurous spirit and passion for writing creative stories and understanding other people were nurtured by the courses she took at M-A, including Maria Angelone’s Creative Writing class and Jim MacKenzie’s Psychology class. She said, “Ms. Angelone was so cool—kind of funky and fun, a little younger than the other teachers at the time. I do a lot of creative writing for work, so I think that class kind of jump-started a passion in me to write stories and be creative. And psychology was super interesting—I now do a lot of content writing for brands and social media, so I have to get into the mind of the customer by thinking about what they need and want out of life.”
Outside of class, Williams enjoyed acting and film. She created a film club with a friend, studying films and filming scenes from movies, and performed in plays with the California Theatre Center.
After M-A, Williams attended UC Santa Barbara. She remembered, “College was super fun. I bopped around a lot of different majors—I was going to do Communications, then Psychology, then Sociology. It was really hard to choose just one thing. I eventually settled on Global Studies. I really just wanted to explore and travel, so I figured that Global Studies was the closest thing to traveling.”
Then, Williams headed off to Mexico and beyond. She periodically ran out of money and came home to work and save up again. She said, “I really wanted to do nonprofit work in different countries because that was a big part of what I’d studied in Global Studies. On my first day at an organization in Peru, I met my current husband. Back then, he was just some crazy Australian man who was doing the same thing as me: volunteering and backpacking. We spent six months together at that nonprofit and decided to keep traveling together.”
Williams continued, “We worked with lots of grassroots nonprofits and were able to make connections with people in the communities and really …….