They buildOn: Trek Manager’s Wanderlust Meets Community Development

By Mina Kang, buildOn Intern

Chad Zibelman always dreamt of having a job that married his interest in both travel and youth engagement. As buildOn’s National Trek Manager, Zibelman is responsible for supporting staff in trips to build schools overseas. It was no surprise that Zibelman studied secondary education in college while traveling all over the United States. Through various summer camps, he led backpacking trips and traveled to 46 states.

Zibelman then joined the Peace Corps, where he lived in a rural village in Namibia and worked closely with the semi-nomadic Himba tribe. It was there when he thought about one day bringing Americans to Africa for a cultural exchange.

As serendipity would have it, he discovered buildOn and joined the team in August 2008. Since then, Zibelman has traveled to all of the countries where buildOn currently builds schools: Mali, Malawi, Nicaragua, Nepal and Haiti. As someone with a passion for travel and a heart for community and youth development, working for buildOn is Zibelman’s dream job.

San Francisco Bay Area

Years worked at buildOn:

What do you bring to buildOn?
A background in education and a vast experience traveling, both domestically and internationally. I bring a thoughtful approach with a focus on health, safety, and creating unforgettable positive memories.

How has buildOn changed your life?
buildOn has enabled me to do the work that I’ve dreamed of doing since I was in the Peace Corps.

What are some of your favorite memories working with buildOn?
Trek experiences; I love the beginning and end every time. My favorite moments are probably entering the village, and the village is excited and everybody is a little tense and nervous. And then when we leave, the experience is so emotional and you can see how close everybody has become– even with so many barriers between language and culture and the foods we eat and the religions we believe in.

Complete this sentence: buildOn is…
an incredible organization that brings together people from around the world to build local communities, and to form one large conscientious global community that believes in helping each other.