We bumped into Ishmael with his wife, both here as part of a month-long backpacking trip around Southeast Asia. He doesn’t look like your average backpacker, though; with his smart, buttoned-up shirt, leather satchel, and page boy hat, he challenges all notions of dreadlocked, singlet-and-board-shorts, country-hopping, surf-catching travellers. Ishmael seems to have a truly global background; American by nationality, he grew up around Europe, and says that he is very influenced by their culture. He’s also developed a fondness for our sunny shores, saying that he would love to move here if he could do anything in the world. “It’s hot, but it’s central to so many countries.” He taught in Egypt for a year, and that’s where he fell in love with the vocation. “I’m now a literature teacher; you get to work with young people, and they keep you in touch with reality. They keep me younger.” Being around kids has probably given Ishmael some insight into his own life, then and now; if he could speak to his younger self, he’d say: “Know that this won’t last forever. You’ll probably regret having worked so much.”

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