Staff Spotlight: Ellen Enebo

Curriculum Manager


Ellen traveled in Up with People (UWP) as a gap year option in 1997, and returned to join their traveling “road staff” in 2007 for 3 tours before taking on her current role as Curriculum Manager. Ellen lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and two daughters, and loves biking, quilting, and being outside.

What position do you hold at Up with People and why do you like working there?

I am UWP’s Curriculum Manager, which means I train and support our touring staff in delivering workshops & reflections, in volunteer service working with youth and schools, and leading the orientation sessions for the incoming groups.

Working for UWP allows me to be an integral part of an opportunity that was a significant growth experience in my own life. I watch young adults enter this program seeking to make a difference and create positive change in the world, and I am proud of my role in setting them up for success and providing tools for them to be prepared and thoughtful in their journey.

What keeps you excited about your job?

My job stays exciting because I work with driven and positive people in a fast-paced environment. Our touring cast is busy moving to a new city each week and with so much activity planned into every day, the work is ever-changing.

We tailor our curriculum and cast discussions to the specific tours and opportunities around us. It is so fulfilling to have the chance to continually improve our programs and customize it for the group to get as much from it as possible.

Do students have a hard time transitioning back after the program? If so, what is your advice on this?

After my first UWP tour, I had a hard time transitioning home—my Up with People community was so fun and so supportive, it was challenging to go back home and be on my own again on campus. We do our best to prepare participants for this reality- that their worldview has broadened and what they want from their life has probably changed during their UWP experience.

My advice is what I hope all our participants do—figure out a way to continue the energy and enthusiasm of their time in UWP into their home life. To get involved, to choose a community need they feel strongly about and take action to meet it and make a difference in a tangible way.

What is one common misconception about going abroad?

One common misconception about going abroad is that you go to learn about the place you are visiting. This is true of course, but it is nothing in comparison to what you will learn about yourself, your values, and your priorities. You discover what you believe by comparing the differences and similarities in how you were raised to the places where you are traveling.

Being put in the position to represent your city, your state, your country in a faraway place wakes up inside you a sense of pride and a chance to reflect on how your life so far made you what you are, and how you are in control of what’s next.