Quitting his job to travel the world- story of a Williamsburg mentor


All images where supplied by Mr. Gilbert

Shamma Al Breiki, Journalist

Hello everyone! I recently got the opportunity to interview Mr. Gilbert, a mentor here at Williamsburg. Mr. Gilbert has been my leadership mentor for the past two semesters, and during this time he often shared stories of his adventures with all his students. I quickly came to realize how interesting and inspiring his story was and figured it was definitely one to be shared for ALL of the Williamsburg community to enjoy! Happy reading!

The Burger Gazette (TBG): What career did you pursue before becoming a mentor? What motivated you to change your career?

Mr. Gilbert: I first pursued a career in business and more particularly Japanese business. After 4 years of university, 3 years of living in Japan, and 3 years as a Japanese tour guide I realized that it was not for me 🙂 Was that a waste of a journey? Not at all, I learned so much and would never give away those experiences for anything but ultimately I had to think about greater priorities such as family (my wife was pregnant with my first son Levi). Instead, I joined a family business and became the General Manager of a Construction company. I have always been good at relating to people and management but after 12 years and 5 children later, I felt that life was missing something for me and I was really unhappy. There were things going on within the company that I did not enjoy which helped me to make the change but I think really it was the knowledge that I was not my best self doing what I was doing and felt an urgency to change so I could spend more time with my family.



TBG: How did you find out about Williamsburg Academy?

Mr. Gilbert: I was on a trip to Europe with my family after deciding that life needed to change and I needed to change careers and do something I was passionate about. I had thought that I wanted to be a teacher but was really unsure of what sort of teacher. Well, during those 9 months we discovered all sorts of things about alternative education and I was thinking that I would prefer to teach in that kind of environment when towards the end of our trip we were living near Napoli in Italy and my wife connected with two other mothers who were in the area and we agreed to meet up. We chose to meet them on the top of Mt Vesuvius and when we met their families at the top we met Greg Denning and Andy Young (both Williamsburg Mentors) and their wives and families. Talk about coincidence right? I believe it was just meant to be. The more they told me about Williamsburg the more I was determined that I wanted to work for a school like that.

TBG: What were you hoping to gain when becoming a mentor?

Mr. Gilbert: I hoped that I would feel connected to my students. That is the most important thing to me. I also really wanted to feel that I was making a difference in their lives in a positive and meaningful way. I have mentored youth for over 20 years in many different roles so I know the challenges that you face and what you need to get through them. I wanted to be a part of that change.

TBG: What triggered your spontaneous decision to quit your job and embark on a travel journey with your family?

Mr. Gilbert: As explained above there were a few things that were going on in the background that helped this decision but my wife was a huge factor in doing this. I had felt trapped, feeling that I had to keep doing what I had been because I was good at it even if I did not love it. I was also mindful of my responsibility to care and provide for my family too, and felt a great amount of fear in making the change. If it were not for my supportive wife who told me over and over again she did not care about the money but just wanted me to do something that I loved, I may have been stupid enough to keep doing that. Once the decision was made though, it was like pulling off a blindfold to my life, everything became clearer and things worked out. It was not easy at times, and we have gone through challenges and heartache, but because I had a clear vision for what I wanted and great support from my wife, whenever there seemed to be a door close in front of us, there was always another one that opened up that was even better than we had planned.

TBG: What do you look for when choosing a travel destination?

Mr. Gilbert: Travel destinations come down to three things for me, the people, the culture, and of course the food. I love History and Culture and love learning the amazing aspects of ALL cultures. This started when my wife and I lived and studied in Damascus, Syria a year after our marriage for 2 months. This was at a time when it was not seen as a smart thing to do from my country’s media. How wrong they were. We loved it so much and fell in love with the Middle Eastern Culture. Don’t get me wrong. I have not loved all 33 countries that I have visited but I have loved experiencing them all in their own way.

TBG: How has traveling changed you and your family? Specifically your relationship with your wife and children?

Mr. Gilbert: I am closer with my wife now than at any time in our 19 years of marriage. We are a great team and love dreaming and experiencing things. Travel will not fix marriage problems if you already have them, but if you are both passionate about it then it is a huge driving force in bringing you closer. As far as my children go I believe] strongly that travel has allowed me to spend not only more time but more meaningful time. We have had epic adventures together. That is the keyword ‘together’. It has been hard. Sometimes we want to kill each other being cooped up together for long periods of time. But that also helps to foster patience, kindness, and appreciation for your family.

TBG: What challenges or hardships occur when traveling with children? How do you overcome them?

Mr. Gilbert: Spending so much time together can often be a challenge. Parents also need time away from being Mum or Dad to just be themselves. Finding this balance is the biggest challenge. We found this was difficult when we were traveling through 12 countries in 9 months but since then we have slowed down a little and stayed places for 6 months at a time and that helps this. The other thing is hearing the complaining about how they want to just go back to Australia and live a normal life. We feel like the life we are giving them is so amazing and I know they will appreciate it too someday. And for the most part, they do really appreciate it, but sometimes, just sometimes I have to remember they are just children and say things they don’t mean 🙂


TBG: What are your aspirations for the future? Where are you off to next?

Mr. Gilbert: My aspirations for the future are to take the amazing education of Williamsburg Learning to other parts of the world. Particularly Australia. We need it so bad in my country where there is not a lot of options for education. I also want to continue traveling. We are already taking a trip to Prince Edward Island in July (not sure for how long 🙂 and our future plans include a trip to the Middle East for a few months including Oman, Jordan, and the UAE. There are just too many places I want to visit and live in including Spain, Morocco, and Scotland. The trick is trying to figure out how to visit them all before our kids are all grown up.



Thank you, Mr. Gilbert, for being a part of this and taking the time to answer these questions! I hope this interview has inspired you to fulfill your vision and go after your dreams however crazy they may be! Until next time…