Spotlight Iowa City: After senior graduates, Tanzania calls


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Lisa Enloe vividly recalls when her 8-year-old daughter sat down across from her at the dinner table and announced she was going to “get rich” when she grew up and then move to Africa and help people improve their lives.

“That’s what she was talking about at such a young age, so we knew she was serious,” said Enloe, remembering Stephanie Enloe’s determination. “When Steph does something, she follows through completely.”

Stephanie Enloe, now 22, is still pursuing her dream through Travel for Change, an organization committed to helping developing countries build community-based ecotourism initiatives. She will graduate this month with a degree in international studies and head to Tanzania on Jan. 27, 2010.

“We have more than enough available to us,” she said, raising her voice slightly. “We need to start spreading the love or at least start spreading the luck.”

Enloe is the sustainable-projects coordinator for Travel for Change, and she is focusing on developing ideas for the group’s most recent project, the Lukelo Lodge in Njombe, Tanzania.

The lodge is owned, designed, and developed by members of the Njombe community with assistance from Travel for Change and other volunteer organizations. The profits from the lodge will be invested into development projects that benefit the surrounding area.

Many of the resorts in the Tanzania area are foreign-owned, so the country doesn’t see any of the profits, according to Travel for Change’s website.

“[The Lukelo Lodge] may be more expensive, but we don’t exploit our employees,” Enloe said.

Former UI student MaryGrace Weber, 24, the founding director of Travel for Change, said Enloe provides a lot for the nonprofit organization.

“Working with Stephanie is great,” Weber said. “She has really great ideas and approaches issues in a completely different light from the rest of us.”

Having Enloe on the team is beneficial, she said, because the soon-to-be UI alum adapts to the Tanzanian culture well.

“She always is incredibly patient,” Weber said. “She has a way of getting to know the people on different grounds to where she is a part of their community, not just an outsider.”

Enloe will live in Tanzania for 10 to 14 months to monitor the project more closely.

Though she said she is very excited about the move, her mother and father have their apprehensions.

“We are both very nervous, of course,” said father Steve Sapp, 58. “But we also completely support her in everything she wants to do.”

After Enloe finishes her project in Tanzania, she plans to attend graduate school to get a degree in sustainable agriculture.

Enloe’s mother said no matter what challenges her daughter faces in the future, she will always succeed.

“Stephanie amazes me,” Lisa Enloe, 50, said. “I am amazed by her bravery, courage, and commitment.”

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