Since 2017, the Vandoorslaert family has been travelling the world aboard their one-of-a-kind 1985 Scania K112 Bermuda bus.
Originally from Belgium, Jean-Francois and Charlotte Vandoorslaert have visited over 25 countries with their three children Charles, Louise and Victoria.
Prior to their journey, Jean-Francois worked as a maître d’ in Belgium and served global elites like the King of Belgium and Bill Gates. Jean-Francois and Charlotte wanted to show their children as much of the world as they could and see how people live life beyond Belgium.
The Vandoorslaerts have used their unique experience to educate kids around the world. They have spoken to several schools across Europe and North America, talking about what life is like on their bus and what they’ve learned for their travels.
Part of their educational outreach is organizing drawing contests where students draw pictures of the Vandoorslaert bus. They then post the photos to their Facebook page and the drawing that receives the most likes wins. The Vandoorslaerts provide prize backpacks to the winning artists that contain educational materials.
In 2019, The Vandoorslaerts crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Halifax. They then travelled throughout North America, going as far south as Mexico.
As the COVID-19 pandemic restricted their ability to travel, the Vandoorslaerts decided to spend the last nine months living in Ladysmith after Jean-Francois got a job working for Wyndlow Acres Farm in Yellow Point.
“I love Ladysmith. It’s a beautiful area with a sea view and the main road is so nice,” Jean-Francois said. “What I love is that everybody knows everybody. If you are active with the community, I’m sure everybody knows you. The community is really close and there’s lots of solidarity with everybody.”
Although the Vandoorslaerts loved their time in Ladysmith, they felt it was time to move on. English is their fourth language, behind French, Flemish and German. It was a challenge for the Vandoorslaerts to find work opportunities due to their proficiency in English.
“When we arrived [in Ladysmith] it was like a new life for us. We thought it was the final home for us. But the kids want more French neighbourhoods. And some people said my English was too bad. That’s why we left,” Jean-Francois said.
The Vandoorslaerts are on their way to Trois Rivieres, Quebec in search of better opportunities and a stronger French community.
When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Jean-Francois said he looks forward to returning to Ladysmith with his family.
You can follow the Vandoorslaerts adventures on their Facebook page: My Tiny School.