Influencer Gregor Schoop

Interview March 2023

Could you share with us some information about your family life?
I was born in Curaçao. I am married and we have one son. I have one brother and one sister. My father died when I was 16 years old, relatively young and my mother has been very important to whom I am today. She has been the pillar in my education as the person I have become.

Could you share something about your educational background and your experience?
After high school, I went to Holland in 1983 for my studies and I graduated as a laboratory technician. Later in Curaçao, I graduated as a chemistry teacher. In 1989 I started my career for over 33 years now. First at Triniteits College and Martinus College MAVO, and these days at Radulphus College.

We know you to be in the organization involved in Santa Helena. Can you tell us more about how this all started?
From early on, as a youngster, I loved organizing activities and I got involved in the ‘Bario di Santa Helena’ in 2002 when together with two friends, we organized a sports day, softball mainly. This turned out to be a very successful day. After this day some people in the neighborhood approached me to organize a special festive ‘Dia di bario’ and we accepted to take on the first challenge in 2003 and there it all started. I got connected with Jeanette Juliet-Pablo from ‘Unidat di Bario’, and we got some great advice from her. She was very helpful, as we teamed up with an already existing organization, founded a foundation in 2004, and joined the network of ‘Unidat di Bario’ from 2004 on as the foundation. Since 2004 we have organized the ‘Dia di Bario’ as a foundation now and I became the president of this foundation. My involvement in the neighborhood, just as the social circumstances in the neighborhood have evolved over the years, my involvement in the neighborhood has grown. People respect me for the work that I have been doing in the neighborhood and they trust me. Whatever happens in the bario some people living here, will contact me and explore if there is something that can be done about this situation. Over the years I have helped a lot of people and mediated so that they could improve their perspectives, the ‘Dia di Bario’ isn’t as big as it used to be, but my work in the neighborhood has increased over the years.

We are very transparent in how we do things in the foundation, especially concerning the finances of the foundation. From the beginning, we have done our activities based on our fundraising efforts, like we have a fair amount of former inhabitants of the neighborhood that support our foundation when we approach them and this bonding is so strong that at times it is even stronger than the bonding of those now living in the neighborhood.

Our work and the documentation of our work in the neighborhood have led to our foundation winning an award for the book we have written about our neighborhood. We are now working on its second edition.  The documentation will continue so that it will stay of value for those who will follow in our footsteps in the future.

Each year we also select a person that is honored for their special contribution to society at large. We are also paying special attention to our youth.

In 2008 we approached our youth and surveyed what they would like us to do for them. They suggested music and sports. We have some musicians living in the neighborhood so we approached them if they were willing to teach music to some youngsters and they accepted. We also asked the Scouting Group Simon Bolivar if we could make use of their venue and they accepted. This is the way we also created more educational programs for our youth, some of these youth are now working as cameramen at TV13. 

I was a futsal trainer and it also created an excellent opportunity to be a coach/mentor for the youth to help them become good citizens in the neighborhood and for Curaçao as a whole. I work in the educational sector, and I know how important education is, so being a sports trainer, coach, and mentor in my own free time as a volunteer, fits perfectly well with my vision of how important education is for our people in general.

We also organized events to know our country for all age groups. We visited San Perdo Boca Raton, Dinah Veeris, and Plantenrust -never knew that it used to be a military hospital- and we hiked and climbed Seru Pretu. We have a beautiful island. The youth were less interested, but we also looking for some to get these deeper involved. We also are always looking for ways to collaborate with neighboring bario’s like Wishi, Marchena and Mundo Nobo, Charo.

But there is so much more to do and we can’t do this on our own. Like if someone was unable to walk anymore, I would mediate for the family. All my work in the neighborhood has led me to be granted the ‘Krus di Merito’ in 2014.

But the real challenge came during the Covid years. As a neighborhood, we were especially challenged during the Covid years. We have done a lot of things with our own resources. As neighbors were helping each other. But some people didn’t want to openly come forward and ask for help. So some willing to help a hand approach me and because of the privacy of those in need of help and that worked very well. I was assessing the needs and was the liaison.

This proved to me how trustworthy I have become over the years.   

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now?
I am a social person and a servant leader. People are very important to me, and it doesn’t matter where you come from. As a human being, I am very motivated to get them to evolve and grow. I am a firm believer in people. I am always willing to give a helping hand. Not all of us have the same wisdom and strength to move forward in life. With our youth, I use sports to get connected with them. Once connected I can guide them. Lots of people criticize our youth, but they don’t anything about this. Talking to the youth makes me understand, what is bothering them. By dealing with them in a certain way, I hope that they would become better human beings in the future. I teach them to become a fisherman instead of giving them fish every single day. A lot of people have never been financially educated. So I help people to manage their finances so that they can stand on their own feet and this helps them manage their lives. Without this basic financial literacy, they are not going to be very successful, or have an honest living.

What are your plans for the coming years let us say 5 years from now?
Life is a cycle. We all live in a parabola. We grow and reach the top and after that, we go down gradually but surely.  

I am now preparing the foundation so that others can take it over, one way or the other. That is a challenge as not everyone is as passionate. One needs passion to do this kind of work. 

Guillermo Rosario, my role model, has inspired me a lot. He used to organize different events for all age groups in the neighborhood. On Queens Day he would organize soapbox competitions, where one had to use one’s materials to construct the soap box.  Or kite competitions at Waaigat. Or organize the clean up of the neighborhood. I am a firm believer in our youth, as they are important for our neighborhoods and the country as a whole. That is why I am continuously involved with the youth via sports. We also honor some elderly people in the neighborhood. And finally, after 12 to 13 years of working on this, our request to have our public meeting square was honored in 2016. Now we can meet each other socially and this I consider to be a great achievement. We needed this space.

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
The biggest challenge is, that it doesn’t matter what you do, there will always be people that disagree. And this criticism can break you if don’t prepare for it. They can have a fixed idea of something and they are not willing to change that.

I take my time to explain what the intention is and I dialogue. Like the name of the public square, I had a different idea originally, but after the dialogue sessions, we reached an agreement. I have learned that time is our greatest teacher and this is also what happened with this public square.

We also have great social control in the neighborhood, which is great. Because if there is any kind of negative development is popping up in the neighborhood, there a great number of people that communicate this to me. I can then take action, and explain that we live in a great neighborhood and that we want to keep it that way. This intervention usually takes care of the issue as they understand that people are watching them.

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
If there is a dilemma I would bring it up in the organization. Not because I am the president of the foundation I am not the only person that takes a decision and we take decisions based on majority rule. The name of the public square was one example, but with other issues, I would also work the same way. I would walk around and based on the input form a balanced opinion and take a decision.

We also communicate with the inhabitants of the neighborhood. In the past, we on a monthly pamphlet, we distributed via the local Toko, restaurant, and Lottery office, and nowadays via WhatsApp. We have 300 to 400 houses in our neighborhood. It is a lot of work.

How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skill levels?
Via ‘Unidat di Bario’ there are regular presentations and courses. I always have been a reader, checking out ideas that might be helpful for us, at times helping out in other neighborhoods. All this helps me to keep myself up to par. This has taught me for example that in Seru Fortuna we need to have a different approach toward the social problems that exist in that neighborhood.

What are your strengths?
I am a transparent, social person that listens at first before reacting. I am patient in explaining changes and continue doing that. As people don’t like change, I know in the end they will accept it.  Just like a child, you have to repeat it every single day and in the end, they often unconsciously, start doing the things you have been telling them all these years.  

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
Futsal, photography, and videography. I used to do this professionally. I love Carnival and I love organizing events.

If you as Gregor would meet a stranger on the bus (let’s say in New York or Bogota Columbia) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I am a citizen of the island of Curaçao. And I love my country dearly. We have so many good things happening on our island that we don’t appreciate enough. There are also things not going well and this is partially not something uniquely for Curaçao. Technology is developing so fast that we are missing out on some. I would also invite them to visit Curaçao. 

How would you describe Gregor in one word or one sentence?
I am a servant leader and I love helping people unconditionally and doing things from the heart. I will not easily push myself to go in the front, I will let others do that part.

Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
Guillermo Rosario has inspired me a lot.

What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
Express my gratefulness to others, by just saying Thank You. I should do this more often. I am at times so tired that I forget to express it.

What was a defining moment in your life?
The moment I went for my studies in Sittard in Holland in 1993. I was away from home and this make me see and experience life differently. As I loved organizing things, I was part of organizations, collaborating and working with lots of people. Like I was involved in the reception of new students coming to Sittard.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
I like doing things unconditionally without expecting anything in return. But I think they will say: “He appreciates people of all ages a lot and he is always prepared to give a helping hand to other human beings”.

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
I am worried, but optimistic. Politicians are not open to seeing what causes our problems as they are focused on getting votes and not directed to address the needs of the country, instead are looking at themselves.  I still see that there are people that are courageous enough to help our country to move forward.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
For the near future, we need to address better certain educational needs of our people. After working 33 years in the educational sector, we need to have some changes so that we can have a better future. We are educating our youth not to serve our country but to live and work in other countries. We need to find ways and means so that those that go through our educational system, can be able to reap the fruits of what the island has to offer and serve our country, otherwise, we will continue to fall behind in our development.

One of the 250 Influencers

Gregor Schoop is a passionate, people-centered, humanitarian, educator and servant leader, who is highly motivated to let his fellow human beings evolve and grow. Humble enough to learn from others, like Unidat di Bario, when they started a foundation in 2003 and where he still is permanently keeping up with his knowledge and skills; collaborative enough to involve others to carry the workload and looking at other neighborhood organizations in how they are addressing things; considerate enough to be involved in the activities organized for all age groups in the neighborhood; respectful towards the privacy of others so to earn the trust of those in need, especially during the Covid years, has made him develop strong roots among the inhabitants working as a volunteer in Santa Helena. This culminated in gaining enough cloud to finally get approval to open a public square where inhabitants can meet as one of the many highlights of the work he has done in collaboration with others. What stands out is his drive to educate people, like being a trainer of futsal for the youth of the neighborhood, organizing educational activities for all age groups of the neighborhood, and educating people to become financially literate, as this is of vital importance to become successful citizens. Because of all this, we consider Gregor Schoop a role model and one of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao, representing the educational and community work in the neighborhood sectors. Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now. 

The goal of the core group of Share2Uplift for 2023

The goal of the Share2Uplift movement is to: “Identify 250 leaders from all walks of life to connect, align and create impactful changes in all walks of life, which includes intergenerational collaboration by the end of 2023.” We will use interviewing Influencers, meet-and-greet events, “train-the-trainers”-programs on “Emotional Mastery” and “Intentionality “as national intervention strategies, to reach this goal on top of our goal to scale up the possibilities to connect, align and create impact via a virtual platform. We believe that by collaborating with Miguel Goede on the virtual Vision 2030 platform, we will accelerate the possibilities to connect the diaspora and others elsewhere in the world and on the island willing to constructively create impactful changes in Curaçao, to join.

As Share2Uplift, we are fully trying to align with this thinking of Center for Curriculum Redesign to promote this agenda in our educational systems and workplace. So, in that sense, we fully support any initiative to make our educational system 21st-century proof.

Share2Uplift aligners are those that:
– Create an inspiring vision of the future;
– Motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision;
– Manage the delivery of the vision;
– Coach and build a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision. These criteria are now being polished.

We also consider these 5 values the most important ones for Share2Uplift aligners. They are:

• Peace from within;
• Compassion;
• Respectfulness;
• Integrity;
• Responsibility.

As we will progress towards this goal, we will update you on the progress.

Personal coaching tips

This week we will share some short videos on Community work and volunteering. We will upload one of these videos every day on our page.

10 Ways to Build a Sense of Community – YouTube

Volunteering – the beneficial side effects | Eric Cooper | TEDxSanAntonio – YouTube

Unidat di Bario Korsou..! – YouTube

5 Community-Building/Team-Building Activities – YouTube

How to Give Back to Our Communities | NowThis Kids – YouTube

The Power of Volunteering – YouTube

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