It all began by accident. Literally. First year student Åge Frivoll went on a project week and had to return to Oslo to get his braces repaired after he was hit by a surfboard. He was sharing a room with an SOS student who had no computer, and while home he got a computer from his sister to give to his roommate. Then he started wondering how many other people needed computers at the College. He sent out a survey to all students and learned that some students had computers that were damaged and couldn’t afford to get them fixed. Some had none at all. Graduates raised funds for six laptops which were gratefully received before the Winter Break, but the need seemed to be greater than this. Åge took it upon himself to do something about it. When he gave his roommate a computer, Åge was deeply moved by the appreciative and humble reaction.
Understanding that many Norwegian schools throw out computers regularly to make way for newer models, Åge sent out emails to 25 schools in Oslo and Akershus Fylke, receiving responses from 2 of them, one of which produced concrete results. At Bjertnes School, he got in touch with Dag, who was responsible for the IT Department. Dag offered to wipe clean all the computers he could, and in addition asked teachers for chargers they’d be willing to donate. He devoted time and effort to supporting the initiative, ultimately providing 11 usable computers. The next step was to install the necessary drivers and programmes on these laptops. Over the Winter Break Åge got his parents to clear out their garage, creating a workshop space where he could work in peace, accompanied only by constant music. He borrowed heavy-duty extension cords from his neighbour, spread the 11 computers out, and got started, installing Windows XP then drivers and background software for components. In the survey sent to students he had asked for details about programmes needed, and then custom-made the laptops to fit each individual’s specifications. He developed a system to make the process run smoothly, working from stage to stage with a check-list over 4 full days.
His parents thought it was a bit crazy, devoting all this time and effort to refurbishing used computers. Then he got his mother involved, asking her to collect clothing for the clothing store. She collected 50-60 kg of good quality clothing. Now Åge faced the challenge of returning to campus with 11 computers, a mountain of clothing, and 20 kg + of hiking equipment. Undaunted, he sent a mail to Larry asking if the College could help with postage, and received support in the form of postal packages, which lightened the load somewhat, but there was still a huge amount to carry. With duffel bags and backpacks stuffed with computers, clothing, and hiking equipment, he somehow made it back to Flekke. Back at College, Åge set about distributing the laptops and offering support to those who needed instruction.
What’s next? Åge hopes to acquire more computers in the future, adding to the supply available for students who arrive at RCN without their own. His story gives expression to the well-known motto of “learning, earning and returning”.