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Around the World with Regan

Natasha Heyer

Sophomore Regan Williams is no stranger to exploring the wider world.

In Williams’ sixth grade year, she took a class called “Work Cultures and Religions” in which she quickly became fascinated with different countries and religions throughout the world.

Her enthusiasm for this class was easily apparent to her family, and they realized it was time to leave Santa Barbara’s protective bubble; they sold all their belongings and booked a one-way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand.

Williams spent the beginning of her adventure backpacking through southeast Asia with her family, where they volunteered for a wide variety of causes.

In Thailand, she dedicated her time to an orphanage, and in Cambodia, she volunteered at a home for abused girls.Here, Williams was a mentor to young girls ranging in age who were the victims in an abusive family.

She organized art projects for the girls. “It was actually a very happy place, and the girls all seemed grateful to be loved and taken care of by the amazing women who work there,” Williams said.

Continuing her adventure in Vietnam, Williams worked with an organization that serves as a hub for children’s reconstructive surgeries all over the world.

Fortunate enough to experience everything with this organization, she worked beside the nurses and doctors during procedures and outside of the operating room. She comforted the patients’ families while they awaited the outcome of their children’s surgeries. She first-handedly experienced the solace provided by the operations and the

impact that they would have on each child’s life.

“Those three months in Asia were some of the toughest I’ve ever had. I felt so grateful for all that I had and couldn’t imagine why I had so many blessings while others in the orphanages and such did not,” Williams said while reflecting on her time in Asia.

However, her journey did not end with philanthropic work in Asia. She also traveled to Turkey, where she witnessed the hardships faced by Syrian refugees and the struggle forced upon families who are desperate for safety.

“This experience, living and interacting with the refugees, also changed my world-view and gave me a deeper understanding of the realities we see on the news,” Williams said.

However, flash-forward three years later, and Williams “imagines now that the refugee crisis has gotten worse, that the neighborhood is overrun and that the refugees there are suffering a lot.”

The people she met attributes to an appreciation of life, an aptitude for philanthropic work and an admiration of other cultures that will stick with her forever.

“The people I had met opened my eyes to who I wanted to be and what I cared about, and I am so thankful to have had that experience,” Williams said. Her worldwide travels led her to where she is today.

On Dec. 30, 2016, Williams left right before the second semester of her sophomore year to attend The Green School in Bali, Indonesia. It is a school dedicated to a holistic learning process and prides itself in its environmentally-cautious infrastructure.

The Green School provides kids of all ages with a globally-academic experience, as it is home to people from 35 different countries – a perfect place for Williams to spend the next six months of her life.

Williams feels a “pull” from both the beautiful and spiritual aspects of the Eastern world and is already very happy with her decision for a nontraditional educational route, allowing her to meet people who share her global-fascination and her concern for civic welfare.

After having been given the world, Williams is now taking it by storm.

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Around the World with Regan