It’s an annual ritual for college students to gather in the fall and regale each other with tales of their summer exploits.

Men’s hockey player Sam Goodwin brought one of the best stories back to the Niagara University campus.

While many student athletes trained, relaxed or maybe worked this past summer, the senior forward spent three weeks in a remote part of Africa.

“I really enjoy traveling and seeing new places, so it was a good fit for me,” said Goodwin, a native of St. Louis, who has not played yet this season after sustaining a concussion in an Oct. 1 exhibition game. “I feel really good about it and feel lucky to have had the opportunity. It was an unbelievable experience.”

Goodwin spent nearly three weeks teaching English to high school kids in Tanzania, then embarked on a full day safari. For the record, Goodwin saw lions, giraffes, and elephants.

He claimed his group got within 10 feet of the elephants, but understandably, not nearly as close to the potentially ferocious lions.

“Our agenda was to promote the English language as much as possible,” Goodwin said of the trip to Tanzania, where Swahili is the common language. “By learning English, which is very popular around the world, it gives students and people a chance one day to make it out of Tanzania and be as successful as possible. If you only know Swahili, you are not going to get very far.”

“That would fall into the category of issues that they deal with every day that we don’t even think about,” said Goodwin, who made the trip with fellow NU student and former women’s hockey player Sarah Zacharias.

Perhaps the most valuable thing Goodwin will take from the experience is the perspective he gained.

“It was incredible to see how these people live,” he said. “It put things a lot of things in perspective, and gives you an appreciation for everything you have here.”

A simple example is getting a drink of water.

“The very simple things for us were so complicated for them,” Goodwin said. “Here, if you want water, you just go to the faucet and water comes out. There, you go to the well, lower the bucket into the water, scoop it up, take it inside and put it through a strainer, then you were able to drink it.

“It was a 10-minute process, that here, takes just a couple of seconds. It makes you appreciate things that you take for granted.”

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The Purple Eagles continue their 11-game road stretch with two games this weekend at Atlantic Hockey foe Sacred Heart (1-11-0, 0-7-0). Today’s game starts at 4 p.m. and Sunday’s game starts at 6 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on WJJL 1440 AM radio.

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