Last Sunday I returned from a trip to the wondrous world of Tanzania. I spent a week at their military academy for an exchange program (Foreign Academy Exchange Program -FAEP). West Point sends two cadets to each military academy in 28 countries for our Spring Break and then all of those schools will send two of their cadets back here for a week. Last year I was able to participate in the program, but I went to Portugal. The trip (along with all Academy trips) are fully funded and you are even provided with some money to help cover incidental expenses that might come up. The intention is to help build foreign relations and create officers that are culturally competent. Tanzania was a very special trip because this was the country's first exchange with West Point. CDT Nate Webster and I were the 2nd and 3rd Western cadets to ever visit the Academy. The Academy rolled out the red carpet to welcome us to their school and made sure that our stay with them was very enjoyable. We were each given a student sponsor and were accepted as a part of the student body. This included early morning group runs under the stars yelling songs in Swahili, practicing marching, attending classes on tactics, evening runs between 12 and 14 miles up and down hills/mountains (don't worry, you can walk some too), and participation a field exercise. Some maybe wondering why anyone would consider this to be a “fun” experience. What makes the military special is the people it attracts and foreign academies are no different. I made friends with students from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Lesotho that I will continue to communicate with as the years proceed and will be always welcomed into their homes. In addition to being able to meet all these great people, the Tanzanian military academy made it a point to take us to see the Ngorongoro Crater to witness one of the world’s greatest spectacles. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my video camera for this outing but I took some great photos instead. I will post them along with a short video from our climb on Mount Kilimanjaro later on today.