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Volunteer Interview: Uldrik Brondeel - Tanzania Construction Internship

Today we speak to Uldrik Brondeel, a recent Frontier volunteer on our Tanzania Construction Internship. Uldrik is from Wondelgem in Belgium and he tells us about his month spent on the project, why he chose this placement, and what he loved most about it. If you've volunteered with Frontier and you fancy appearing in this feature, just get in touch with our lovely press team (press@frontier.ac.uk)...

Ulrik on the Tanzania Construction Internship

Into The Wild: Why did you choose the Tanzania Construction Internship?

UB: I always wanted to go to Africa. As my first outside Europe experience, it just had to be Africa. The nature, the people, the history, the problems, it all fed my curiosity about Africa. When I was searching for a good country to do my internship in (I’m studying civil engineering, so it had to be something to do with construction), I compared a lot of African countries. In the end I went for Tanzania, because it is unbelievably beautiful and it is also one of the safest and most stable regions in Africa.

Into The Wild: What was your experience of the local Tanzania community?

UB: Most people are very friendly and welcoming, although some aren’t as happy to receive our help as others. But all the people involved in the projects, from far or from up close, are the warmest and sweet people I’ve ever met. You just have to keep in mind you’re in a developing country.

Into The Wild: What construction projects did you take part in during your internship?

UB: I helped finishing the walls and the floor of a new nursery near the volunteer house. I also constructed 6 desks for a local school. A fun thing is that the desks can be used in for example the art classes, as they are able to paint them in pretty colours and patterns with the local kids. I also helped doing random stuff around the house, like fixing tables, couches and constructing a storage box for the local stone polisher.

Into The Wild: Do you have a favourite memory from the project?

UB: That’s a hard one, there are so many amazing experiences and moments. To name a few: the goodbye party at Samaki Samaki and later Runwayclub, watching the lions hunting their prey, getting to know the amazing people who volunteered with me, jumping of a waterfall at the foothills of Kilimanjaro, … I can go on for a while!

Into The Wild: What previous skills did you have that helped you on the project?

UB: I think for most things you do not need special skills. If you are an open minded person, ready for an adventure, and not too set on your comfort, you can easily pull this off. The local people help you out a lot and they do not expect you to be the next handyman.

Into The Wild: Has the project helped you in your long term career goals?

UB: Absolutely, and this is actually not important, this experience is just so enriching.

Into The Wild: What advice would you give people to make the most out of their project?

UB: Don’t go with any expectations. It’s nearly impossible to predict what is going to happen. Just let it come at you and take part in as many experiences as you can. Always be open to everybody and don’t forget you are the guest.

Into The Wild: What made you want to volunteer abroad?

UB: Next year I graduate. I had the feeling it was now or never. I’ll start working, and to do something like this at that time will be very had.

Into The Wild: How did you spend your free time on the project?

UB: We started a football class for the local youth, we went to the beach and to Dar Es Salaam, we went on safari and to Zanzibar, we went to this local bar, and we just enjoyed each other’s company…

Into The Wild: Where else in the world would you like to volunteer?

UB: I definitely want to go back to Africa. But there are so many places in the world that I want to visit. I just got back now so it’s too early to say. I guess I’ll start looking for the next trip soon enough. 

Frontier is a non-profit environmental conservation organisation providing voluntary projects in a wide range of countries around the world. For more information on all opportunities to volunteer abroad, the qualifications available including those in Tanzania, please visit the Frontier website.

Questions by Jenny Collins