Aus dem IAESTE-Jahresbericht 2006,
Herausgeber: Prof. Tamara Stryzhak, National Secretary IAESTE Ukraine:
(the interview was taken by German Journalist Katarina Bader)
As soon as one enters the office of Prof. Elmar Schrüfer in the "Technische Universität München" (TUM) one knows: this is not only the working place of a very well respected expert on Metrology but also room of a cosmopolitan in the very best sense of word: Prof. Schrüfer is obviously interested in all kinds of cultures and it is evident that he has friends all over the world. On the walls there are pictures from Kiev, Beijing and Petersburg and on the top of the cupboard there is hardly any free space due to all these beautiful handmade matroshkas, Chinese vases and framed little pictures which are Standing up there very accurately lined up.
"Presents from my dear foreign colleagues and from students for whom I organised a scientific internship here", Schrüfer explains. He is a friendly looking man who actually is beyond his seventies but he looks much younger - especially when he talks about his exchange projects.
The first time Schrüfer got in touch with colleagues from Kiev was about 25 years ago and since the early ninties he has been organising a scholarship Programme for students from countries east of Germany, mainly from Ukraine, Russia and Estonia, but also from China. More than 50 names of former scholarship holders are already listed in the report of this highly successful programme. All these students were invited by the TUM to study and research for half a year in Munich and to write the dissertation submitted for their diploma there.
"Schrüfer's list" calls Prof. Tamara Stryzhak this paper, alluding to the film "Schindler's list". Of course unlike Schindler's list Schrüfer's list did not rescue lives, but Prof. Stryzhak is sure that "Schrüfer's list" influenced the lives of all the young people named on it in a very positive manner: "Thanks to the exchange these young people learnt a lot, both professionally and personally", Prof. Stryhak says. She teaches at the "National Technical University of Ukraine" in Kiev and has cooperated with Prof. Schrüfer for many years already and stresses the tremendous value of his services for German-Ukraine understanding: "People like Elmar Schrüfer help more in this context than 20 high-ranking politicians", she says.
"I just have an enormous respect for these young people who come here and do research with us for half a year", Schrüfer says. "Many of them are very talented and the education they have obtained at horne is obviously excellent - especially if it comes to theoretical aspects of electrical engineering, the Standard is extremely high. It is a pleasure to work with these students." But Schrüfer does not only include the foreign students in the scientific projects of the TUM, he and his colleagues also care about the students' needs out of university: Schrüfer is one of the very few professors in the world who is renting a room in a students dormitory - of course not for himself, but for the foreign students. Everything is booked on his name and he personally makes sure that things work. When his schedule allows, Schrüfer also organises leisure time activities for "his foreigners". He takes them by car on day trips around Bavaria or invites them home. "Without the support of my wife it would not be possible to do all that", he says, "but I think if these young people are here for half a year they should see as much of the country as possible".
Why is he doing all this - having written an impressive number of scientific books and textbooks Schrüfer would probably be busy enough without these additional tasks. "First of all it is fun to help these nice, cultural young people", he answers, "and apart from that I think we Germans have quite a bit to make up for". Saying this Schrüfer gets very serious. He mentions his father who had to fight in World War II and he says that he is extremly happy to live in times when nobody is forced to fight against other people. "I'm so happy that we can meet as friends and colleagues today and I'm grateful that Ukrainian people are so positive towards the Germans despite all the horrible crimes the Germans committed during the war especially in the East."
Schrüfer's exchange Programme is financed with money from the German industry and from the "Deutsche Forschungs-Geseilschaft" (a German research association). Schrüfer writes letters and uses contacts to keep his project going.
Officially Schrüfer is already retired but apart from making his list of former exchange students longer and longer each year he continues giving classes at University. "I just started to look for somebody who can take over the responsibility for the project but before I stop I want to make sure that the exchange will continue", he says.
Until 2006 74 students participated in this Stipendienprogramm Ost (Teilnehmer).