Volunteer of the Month: Ingunn Egeberg Vári

Text: Ronja Pavall
Photo: Asle Heide Vaskinn
& Lukas Feldman

The joy when you finally find the cabin.
Photo: Asle Heide Vaskinn

In NTNUI’s column “Volunteer of the Month,” you get to meet some of the dedicated volunteers in NTNUI who contribute invaluable efforts. In February, you will meet the project manager in NTNUI Koiene, Ingunn Egeberg Vári.

Ingunn is Koienes’ great optimist. In no way is Ingunn lazy, neither in administrative matters nor physically. Ingunn is not afraid to take charge and sort things out. She also has great enthusiasm and curiosity for Koienes’ history, and is currently responsible for the jubilee book for Koiene’s 75th anniversary. Ingunn also chose to continue being part of the cabin committee last autumn, even though she knew she would be going on exchange to France this semester. Even though she has been in France, she participated digitally in most meetings.

– Runhild Aakre, board member Koiene
Facts about Ingunn

Age: 27 years old
Study: Medicine
Years in NTNUI: Since 2017
Group: Koiene and orienteering
Voluntary position: Project Manager

How did you end up in NTNUI?
I’ve been involved in orienteering since I was little, and as a student, you know that if you want to run, NTNUI has the largest community. When I first came to Trondheim, I found so many other things I wanted to do that orienteering wasn’t my top priority anymore, but after a little over a year, I wanted to come back and joined then!

How did you find your way to Koiene?
I lived in the O-kitchens at Moholt, and I had been on some cabin trips that were fun. Additionally, I lived with some people in the cabin committee. I became curious about how things worked behind the scenes and eventually joined the committee.

Have you been studying since 2017?
Actually, I started studying in 2015, initially focusing on physics and mathematics. I switched my studies around a bit, and now I’m in my fifth year of medical school. It’s been quite a journey!

Mandatory selfie at the top of Blåhøa, one of the many beautiful hikes from Kamtjønnkoia.

Wow, impressive! What position do you hold now?
I’m the Project Manager. I started as the Information Officer, but I wanted to work more on the history I discovered about the Cabins, so I began with the jubilee narrative. It became so much work that I couldn’t juggle both roles as Information Officer and Project Manager. It was perfectly fine to make the change since roles in the cabin committee shift a bit according to needs.

How is it to combine responsibilities with studies, both in medical school and with the cabin committee?
I actually find it manageable. Fortunately, a lot of the cabin committee work falls outside of the semester, which makes it easier to participate!
That’s good to hear, it makes sense!
It really comes down to priorities. If I’m not enthusiastic about something, I won’t perform well regardless. So, I think it’s better to invest time in responsibilities and focus on studies when I’m feeling motivated. There are periods when I’m really enthusiastic and just think about the project for weeks, but then I need to switch to something else, which could be studying.

Which cabin is your favorite then?
Hmm, I think that’s a bit of a personal question. Is it appropriate to ask someone on the cabin committee that?
Maybe not, but I had to try. Are there any cabins you’ve been to more than others?
I’ve visited them all, and there’s one I haven’t stayed overnight at, just a day trip to set up mouse traps. They really just have to be experienced firsthand.

As on all cabin trips, entries are made in the cabin logbook, here at Kråklikåten.
Photo: Asle Heide Vaskinn

What do you think about the label “Volunteer of the Month” or “Ildsjel” that has now been attached to you?
Well, you know, in the context of cabins, we’ve had a couple of fire incidents, so I don’t want it to catch any more fire than it already has. Just kidding, but there are incredibly passionate individuals in various ways, so I feel that in cabin meetings, everyone is enthusiastic together, which fuels an even bigger fire! It also gives us the opportunity to showcase what we do in the cabins and try to spread the good message.

Do you have any recommendations for people who want to go on a cabin trip but are unsure which one to choose?
The cabins are divided into different difficulty levels; some are easily accessible, while others may require more experience in hiking and camping. It’s also nice to visit a cabin that is suitable for the number of people you are traveling with. One that might be a good start, easy to find with good bus connections, but still gives you the feeling of being in the woods, is Rindalsløa. It could be a great start to an adventure!

You mentioned that you’re working on a 75th anniversary book, could you tell us a bit about it?
It all started when I was new to the committee and went on a cabin trip, where I found some older booklets with stories and pictures. Reading through them, I was fascinated by the events that had taken place over the years, the different cabins that had existed, and the new ones that had been built. The more I read, the more I felt it would be a shame not to share this with people who are interested.
Yes, there must have been a lot that has happened and changed over the years.
I can choose how big the book should be and what limitations there might be; there are so many stories that you can’t tell them all anyway. All those books that are at the cabins, where people write every time they go on a trip, shouldn’t be replaced, so you almost have to go on a cabin trip and read the book there. Read it where it belongs.

It must be so fun to read about what people have experienced at the different cabins!
What’s cool is that even when you read about events from many years ago, a lot of the same things come up; people getting lost, having parties, or bringing lady-visitors to the cabin!

Good ergonomic conditions as Holvassgamma is jacked up in connection with the replacement of a rotten bottom log.
Photo: Lukas Feldman

What is your own best memory from your time in the cabins?
A couple of things stand out. The days when there was a big volunteer effort at Holvassgamma this summer. In both June, there were ten days of volunteering, with 18 people stopping by. The atmosphere was incredible. I was there continuously for ten days, and it felt like I lived there. Another memory was when the most inaccessible cabin needed firewood; there were 15 of us filling sacks with firewood and hiking up to the cabin. Then we went back down to get food and overnight gear before hiking back up. It was over 25km, and it was pouring rain, but everyone remained positive!
That’s quite an achievement!
But it’s not just about volunteering. Two years ago, during Easter, my partner and I hiked between many different cabins. It’s important that even though you’re in the cabin committee, you still get to go on other trips than just volunteering, so I have many great hiking memories too!

What is your relationship with NTNUI’s colors?
Over the years, I’ve become convinced that those are the right colors, and my mother was also in NTNUI. When I was little and we went on trips, she wore her old NTHI jacket. So I’m so used to the colors and that’s what NTNUI is, so it’s hard to imagine anything else.
What did your mother participate in at NTNUI?
Orienteering! But she also has pictures in photo albums showing that she went on cabin trips.
Wow, that’s cool! Following in her footsteps then.
Yes, I suppose I am!

The volunteer of the month is a regular column created by the promo team in collaboration with the photographers in NTNUI Blits. Would you like to nominate someone for the firebrand of the month? Send to blits-promo@ntnui.no