The Adventures of Ram Chop & Erik Christenson


He travels across the world to more than ten countries in the fall of 2019 alone. He greets students and promotes Cotter’s international boarding system. He makes students smile because of his blue and white apparel and kind eyes.

This is a description of Mr. Erik Christenson, but this also describes his trusty handmade side-kick, Ram Chop.

Ram Chop in Hanoi. Photo by Erik Christenson

Before coming to Cotter, Mr. Christenson spent nearly fifteen years in various banking management positions in both retail and commercial banking and project management roles.

In July of 2018, he began his role at Cotter as the Director of International & Alumni Advancement.

“Eventually, I realized that banking wasn’t for me, and I was glad to still have great connections to the Cotter Community. That was how I was able to gain my current role here,”Mr. Christenson said .

As part of his job, he educates school agents about Cotter’s international boarding school program and what it is like to be at Cotter so they can share with families. He also travels to school fairs and meets with families face-to-face to encourage students to consider Cotter as a part of their educational future. 

Mrs. Hansel-Parlin and Mr. Christenson in holiday gear and spirit. Photo by Niki Peterson

Mr. Christenson explained that he expanded the role of Director of International & Alumni Advancement here at Cotter by choosing to focus more on traveling and promoting Cotter through in-person interactions instead of simply the admission process logistics.

This has led to vast travel in the past two years and greater connections for Cotter around the world. He has traveled to China and Vietnam, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, and Italy, all in the fall of 2019. Fortunately, throughout his long flights and jet-lag periods, he was not alone. Ram Chop began traveling beside him. 

From Cotter’s FB page, a photo of Mr. Christenson’s display at a recruiting session with Ram Chop prominently displayed.

Ram Chop, or the royal blue and white crocheted figure of a ram, was first created by Mrs. Ortega’s relative.

 “Ram Chop was originally made for me because my relative is an avid crafter. Mr. Christenson took the figure from a display in the main office one day and named it Ram Chop,”  Lori Ortega said.

Ram Chop also survived a scare, going missing in the building for a period of time.

“It was actually a whole ordeal. When Ram Chop went missing, Ms. Werner sent out a panic letter to the Cotter staff in efforts to find it,”  Ortega said with a light-hearted laugh and bright smile.

Thankfully, Ram Chop came back safe and sound, without a stitch disturbed when Mr. Christenson returned to Cotter after one of his trips.

Ram Chop on travels the world to bring students to Cottre

“I started bringing Ram Chop with me because I wanted to have a small symbol of Cotter that the students could remember so they would remember Cotter. Students have really liked it. I have even had some students pose for pictures with Ram Chop!” Mr. Christenson said.

Their adventures have also been chronicled on the Cotter Instagram account, enlightening current students about Cotter’s influence around the world.

“This year, there are about 14-15 countries and territories represented at our school,” Mr. Christenson said, “I really hope that I can help Cotter increase their connections in Europe and Latin America because we are not as established there as in Asia. I want to give the most people possible the opportunity to come learn at Cotter.”

 “My favorite part of the job would definitely be seeing the benefit of the opportunity for families to come to the United States and the Cotter community. For example, once I was meeting with a family and the mother got emotional because she was so overwhelmed with happiness that her daughter could come to Cotter for a new educational experience. It is incredibly rewarding to be a part of those moments.”

There were rumors that there were more Ram Chops created for the Cotter Auction this year, unfortunately the auction has been postponed due to the quarantine.

Ms. Ortega also hinted that there may be more Ram Chops on the way.

“My relative may be making more, and I may or may not have a few at home.”

So, while the original Ram Chop continues to travel around the world with Mr. Christenson, new “Ram Chop relatives” may be joining the Cotter community.