Backpacker Turns Her Passion Into Prose

Tyler Protano-Goodwin ’12 didn’t move far from home to attend MHC—her hometown is Amherst, Massachusetts—but now world travel is central to her life.  Five months after graduation, the psychology and education major moved to Thailand, where she now teaches English to elementary school students in the city of Chiang Mai.

But teaching doesn’t satisfy her love of writing, so she submitted an article to South East Asia Backpacker, a print and online magazine. That led to meeting the editor, and today she writes frequently for the Web edition and manages Backpacker’s website and social media program.

And of course, she travels.

“Once you have the backpacking bug, you just can't stop!,” says Protano-Goodwin, who has backpacked through much of Southeast Asia and three South American countries so far. “There's nothing like the feeling of throwing yourself into the unfamiliar—new cultures, new landscapes, new languages. Travel is an amazing, challenging experience that makes you realize again and again that there is so much to learn from others and about this wonderful world we live in!”

Mount Holyoke’s global perspective was obvious to Protano-Goodwin even as a first-year student.

“Two weeks after I arrived, I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras for a community-service project,” she recalls. “My confidence as a traveler was born. From then on, MHC opened many doors. On campus I was constantly welcomed into rich new environments—Japanese tea ceremonies, multifaith lunches, Hindu prayers and dinners, intergroup dialogues…. The options were plentiful, and my curiosity about myself in the wider world only grew.”

While studying in Peru her junior year, Protano-Goodwin realized that, “come graduation, I wanted to once again fling myself entirely into the unknown and see what would come of it.” Having traveled and written about Asia, she’s now poised for a move to Santiago, Chile,  where she will help start South America Backpacker magazine later this year.

“Mount Holyoke definitely taught me to try everything, identify what I am passionate about, and run with it. I learned to write with purpose and passion, relate to a wide variety of people, assert myself as a leader, and see situations from multiple perspectives,” she said.

Best of all, numerous as those skills are, they won’t take up any space in a backpack.