Sibanye Gap Programs is not your normal gap year provider. It is a unique organization and approach to learning that has emerged from a collaboration that stretches across continents, cultures and backgrounds. After years of dreaming and discussing ideas for what was initially known as the “circle project”, Sibanye was officially born in 2016 when we ran our first trip in Stellenbosch South Africa.
However, this was not an ordinary trip, it was a participatory design trip that brought together multiple generations of leadership and experience from multiple organizations that stretched from the Americas to Southern Africa. The founders and owners of New Summit Academy and the Bridge Costa Rica traveled to South Africa with a hand pick group of former alumni to engage with Usiko Stellenbosch, a South African youth development organization. As fate would have it, New Summit Academy’s first graduate, Zach Lager, had also recently moved to Stellenbosch after spending the previous seven years in Mozambique. In the months leading up to the trip, Zach would set up the logistics, build relationships and lay the foundation for the trip. To put it simply, the intention of the trip was to lay the foundation for a new type of gap program in Africa - one that not only provides meaningful experiences for visiting participants but one that also places equal emphasis on contributing to meaningful development and opportunities for local youth.
What transpired during that first two week trip in May 2016 was impossible to ignore. Despite the profound diversity of cultures, races, socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities , the synergy of beliefs and values and the sheer serendipity that brought us together was overwhelming. Furthermore, the idea that cross cultural interactions are a fertile ground to foster meaningful and sustainable development at a personal, community and global level was only reinforced! By the end of the two weeks we had a name, Sibanye, which means “together as one” in the Xhosa langauge, and a clear vision and mission for the future:
Through processes of collaborative empowerment and empathetic connecting, Sibanye Gap Programs seeks to heal the distance between people in the world, to allow for mutual growth and authentic relationships to build a global community of understanding and well-being.
Since that first trip in 2016, Sibanye has run a number of trips with school groups, universities and individuals from around the world. One thing that has remained the same is our deep belief and commitment to our original ideas and values. When you join a Sibanye experience, you embark on a journey that is part of something bigger - a vision to change the world through our interactions!