Christopher Strautmann | Photo: Lucia Hofmaier
Chris joined us at the beginning of 2023 to gain an insight into the work of the foundation during a six-week internship. In that time, he made himself so indispensable that we asked him if he didn't want to stay longer. Now he supports the teams of Werkraum Schöpflin and our FABRIC project in Lörrach, especially in workshops and activities with young people, and in the field of public relations.
1. Chris, what do you particularly like about your work at Schöpflin Foundation?
Chris: It is multi-faceted, I am given a lot of freedom and there is a very friendly and trusting atmosphere. I particularly enjoy working with children. Through children, you simply experience a completely different, direct kind of appreciation. I'm always really happy when I show up at the workshops and the kids all call my name. I also learn a lot about how we interact with each other. Recently, for example, we had a school project in our “Werkraum”. There was a boy who was pretty wild and obviously the leader in the class. I told him to clean up a bit. That's what he did. And then he walked past me and I called out to him, "Hey, thank you so much for that!" He turned around and looked at me in disbelief. He was obviously surprised that someone was thanking him. And I thought, cool, by saying a little thank you here and there, you may already be making a difference. I found that an educational and good moment.
2. You give the impression that you like to test things out. When was the last time you were quite courageous in your life?
Chris: That was actually probably just recently. With the decision to leave Cologne, move to Lörrach and do something completely different from what I thought I wanted to do until then. I originally trained as an industrial management assistant and worked in a company for eight years. That was great at first. But at some point I had the feeling that everything in my work was just repetitive and I wasn't learning anything new. I also missed creativity in my professional context. That's why I decided to study marketing. I thought that at least the working environment would be a bit more inspiring later on. For my studies, I caught up on my A-levels while working. But in the fourth semester at the university, I realized that it wasn't that either. Above all, the quality of the teaching disappointed me; it felt like a waste of time. My desire to do something really meaningful became stronger. Therefore, I started looking for internships in the social sector and approached the Schöpflin Foundation. At the same time, I tried to find an internship in Cologne and succeeded in getting it. After my six weeks of internship in Lörrach were over, I was asked if I liked to stay longer. After a short, intensive period of consideration, I decided to give it a try and cancelled the internship in Cologne. Now I'm looking forward to another year at the foundation and I'm excited to see what follows!
3. So you've just had to make some major decisions in your life. Is there anything that helps you make such big choices?
Chris: Yes. When it comes to big decisions, the thing is: Either one side clearly prevails, in which case I know which way I'm going – or I have doubts. And if I have trouble deciding between two options, then both are equally bad or equally good. So I can't make a wrong decision. That's why I don't hesitate too long and don't look back!
Dear Chris, thank you very much for your time! What we particularly like about Chris' last answer: With this attitude, he lives one of the maxims of his great-uncle Hans Schöpflin, who likes to quote the American baseball player Yogi Berra – who is famous for his equally quirky and smart worldly wisdoms – with the words: "If you come to a fork in the road, take it!" In this spirit: Close your eyes and go for it (stay courageous)!
Christopher Strautmann is the grandson of Heidi Junghanss - sister of Hans and Albert Schöpflin and founding benefactor of the Schöpflin Foundation together with her brothers.
This article appeared in our July 2023 newsletter. Don't miss any more issues? Click here to subscribe!