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Today in Europe Spotlight, Stripes talks with 19-year-old Nick Henricks, who recently spent ten weeks as an English teacher in Tanzania:

How did a teenaged German-American citizen come to teach English to students in Tanzania?

I had the time, because I didn’t have to go into the [German] military for nine months, whereas all my friends had to go in the military. Another reason is that I love traveling. And I wanted to do something good just to mature a little bit. My uncle had built a school in the area and had some connections. The headmaster of the school said: ‘Well of course somebody can come here and teach for nothing, as a volunteer.’ My uncle paid for the flight. It was 1,000 euros. I saved up money by working as a waiter to have spending money while I was there. I guess I am pretty adventurous. I’d like to do a bunch of traveling before I start a job and get [only] 30 days vacation a year.

Did you have any adventures on the trip?

One time, I walked to a nearby village with another teacher. We were walking … and suddenly we heard a sound like (drums his fingers on the table like the sound of running hooves). I turn around and there’s a buffalo coming for us. We both started running and then I went up a tree and he went up a tree and the buffalo just rammed into the tree he was in. It circled him for about 20 minutes and got really [angry] – snorting, and its eyes were watering.

The other thing was after dinner one day I was walking and I had this big flashlight. I was walking past the girls’ dormitory and I saw a couple of the other teachers. I turned the flashlight off so that I could blind them when I got closer and mess with them a little bit. I turned it on and about [eight feet] in front of me there was this huge cobra. I swear to God. It just kind of laid there and didn’t move. And then I just sort of imagined that if I wouldn’t have turned on the light, I might have stepped on it. The teachers started grabbing stones and stoning it and finally killed it.

How did you adjust to your time there?

For the first three weeks, I just wanted to go back home. I really missed a lot of things, especially the whole thing of washing yourself. You had to use buckets of water to bathe. And I had nothing to do. After school, and after you work on your lesson for the next day, there’s nothing else to do. In three weeks, I read 15 books and then all my books were gone. After a while I would just start to warm up to some of the teachers and go over there to talk.

What’s the first thing you did when you got back home?

Well, I drove to my girlfriend’s, and she broke up with me. That really sucked. Beyond that, it was all about the food. I ate out everywhere. Even if it only was McDonald’s, I just wanted to eat. I spent time seeing my family. I missed them a lot.

What’s next?

I’m thinking about taking another trip, but I don’t want to do it by myself this time. I’m going to try to get a friend to do it with me. My uncle also has a school in India. But this time I won’t stay as long, maybe for six weeks or something like that.

Interview by Rick Emert.

Nick Henricks

Age: 19

Title: English teacher for the Masai tribe in Ngorongoro, Tanzania, for 10 weeks

Day job: German and American citizen living in Bamberg, Germany.

Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to news@mail.estripes.osd.mil.

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