Volunteer of the Month: Bendik Stenberg

Text: Emilie Sofie Eilertsen
Photo: NTNUI Blits and Private

Photo: Eivind Jølsgard/NTNUI Blits

In NTNUI’s column “Volunteer of the Month,” you get to meet some of the dedicated volunteers in NTNUI who contribute invaluable efforts. In January, you will meet the River Chief in NTNUI Paddling, Bendik Stenberg.

He is the Rover Chief in the paddling commitee a position he has held for almost 1.5 years. Prior to that, he served 1.5 years as the Sea Chief

He is responsible for organizing 3 basic courses per semester, in addition to 1-2 advanced courses. Thus, he often has the responsibility of coordinating activities over many weekends in a row. In addition to this, he serves as the main instructor during Tuesday training sessions. This year, I believe there have been no more than 1-2 training sessions he hasnt`t participated in (and often as main instructor). As the river chief he is also responsible for coordinating activities during each training session. He was also one of the two main organizers on the river during the annual “Sjoatur”, with around 20 paddlers on the river.

– Thea Kristine Terjesen, Leader NTNUI Paddling
Facts about Bendik

Age: 26
Studies: Psychology
Years in NTNUI: Since the spring of 2021
Group: Paddling
Voluntary position: River Chief

Who are you?
I thrive with a full calendar and get bored quickly if there’s too much downtime. I like when there’s a lot happening so I can be productive efficiently!

How did you end up in NTNUI?
It took the pandemic to free up space in my calendar for paddling, as it is a great outdoor activity that allows for social distancing. I had some experience in sea kayaking, and I was asked to be an instructor in NTNUI, teaching courses. Then, there happened to be an open position in the committee, and the then-leader invited me on a trip to Munkholmen, presenting a sort of sales pitch. So, I went from not being a part of NTNUI at all to suddenly being accepted into the paddling committee.

But you started as the Sea Chief and are now the River Chief, what do these roles entail exactly?
One is responsible for activities either on the sea or riverfront. This includes organizing courses, maintaining equipment, and ensuring that training sessions are carried out effectively. It also involves some delegation. In essence, you’re responsible for making things happen in the area you oversee. For example, in the fall, we held five basic courses because there was a lot of interest.

What would you say is the best thing about your position?
I would say the best thing about the position is that when you’re part of a committee, you’re usually with those who are the most enthusiastic and committed to keeping activities going. It’s incredibly fun to be a part of it, and you feel a greater sense of ownership of the club. I also find it can be dull to just be a participant on a trip, but if you organize and have a hand in it, it’s more enjoyable. The people in the committee are a very pleasant group, so it’s really nice to have a role in the committee.

Photo: Eivind Jølsgard/NTNUI Blits

So the organizational aspects and the governance involved in such a position are quite enjoyable?
Yes, it’s really fun. At times it has been quite busy because when you have a role in planning and choosing dates, you often end up checking your own calendar and selecting weekends with no prior commitments. Last fall, I didn’t have a single free weekend until November, and this was decided before the semester even started!

But you do find this to be just fun?
Oh yes, of course you can feel a bit overwhelmed at times. Serving on a committee can be time-consuming because you spend a considerable amount of time planning, but you want to be a part of all the fun things you plan too!

How did it go in combination with your studies then?
It actually went quite well. When you’re procrastinating on studying, spending time on productive NTNUI Paddling tasks is quite convenient.

What do you think about the label “volunteer of the month or Ildsjel” that you have now received?
Well, I was very surprised, and it came out of the blue. It’s an honor, and I really appreciate receiving such recognition for the work I put in. I also want to emphasize that there are incredibly many people working together and deserving of praise. We are a committee that invests a lot of time and collaborates on tasks.

Photo: Private

What makes you happy?
Oh! Hmm… I’ve had many great moments out in the kayak. Personally, I often use the word “blissful” instead of happy because experiencing a blissful calm and peace, as I often do in the kayak, is very nice. It turns out that in my blissful or happy mode, I tend to become quiet and peaceful. Once on a trip, I was misunderstood for being grumpy and cold, and it seemed like I was having a bad day. It should be mentioned that it was quite cold on that trip, so it might have seemed like I was therefore freezing and having a bad day, but in reality, I was just finding true calm and happiness in the moment. The extreme nature one gets to see from the kayak and seeing nature from such a perspective gives a great sense of joy and an absence of worry and stress.

Have you ended up in the river or the sea during a kayaking trip?
Oh yes. It happens that you end up in the water and have to take a little swim, but it’s part of the game. The worst part is actually the cold temperatures when putting on the spray skirt. The cold temperatures makes the spray skirt quite difficult to work with and I sprained my thumb this fall in an attempt to put it on.

Would you say being part of the committee and organizing trips and courses is the reason you get involved?
It’s a significant part of it. You feel that you are useful and can use your skills in a good way. It’s also a lot of fun with the courses. Basic courses and introducing newcomers to the sport are also big motivations for putting effort into the role.

Do you have any advice for others considering committee positions?
I would encourage it! The hope is that the things we do in the paddling committee, for example, make it easy for others to take over the baton. My goal is that when I leave the committee, it should be well-functioning and enjoyable to take on that role. It’s also important that when you take on a committee role, you need to dedicate some time to it, but my experience from the paddling committee is that it has given me much more than it has taken. It has given me a great and large community that I will continue to stay in touch with both in and out of the water. It’s definitely worth taking the risk if you’re considering a committee role. You just need to be good at knowing your own limitations and use the others in the committee to make the workflow smooth.

We usually end with a lighthearted question or dilemma. Rowing’s tights or the devil’s hat?
It has to be Rowing’s tights, it’s cool!

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

Volunteer of the Month: Sigurd Angell Bergh

Text: Emilie Sofie Eilertsen
Photo: Leonie Richarz/NTNUI Blits, Thomas Meinicke/NTNUI, private

Photo: Thomas Meinicke/NTNUI

Sigurd currently serves on the board of the NTNUI Diving Group as the cellar manager. During the summer, he has dedicated a significant portion of his free time to building a new hot tub (on a trailer) after the old one gave out. This hot tub will benefit the diving group and others who wish to rent it for various enjoyable events. In addition to this, for many years, he has done an immense amount for the diving group. He works tirelessly to ensure that the subgroup is not only a place for divers/freedivers/underwater rugby players to practice their sport but also a vibrant social hub. He assists with all sorts of tinkering and fixing that the group needs, whether it’s gifts for the friendship club in Helsinki, stencils for equipment labeling, organizing parties after general meetings, and much more—he handles it. He lives and breathes pressurized air and the NTNUI Diving Group, and he truly deserves some recognition!

Nora S. Oma, Deputy Chair/UWR-responsible in NTNUI Diving Group
Facts about Sigurd

• Name: Sigurd Angell Bergh
• Age: 23
• Group: Diving Group
• Years in NTNUI: 6 years now
• Position: Diving Group from day one
• Studies: Master’s degree in Physical Planning

Hello Sigurd! Tell me a bit about yourself. Who are you really, and what are your passions in life?
I’m from Haugesund and was born and raised on the west coast. I obtained my diving certification on the day I turned 12. I’m now in my fifth year of studies, pursuing a master’s degree in physical planning at NTNU. I also have a bachelor’s degree in water and wastewater engineering and work a lot in that field. As you can probably tell, I’m very involved with water in general. I grew up in an environment with a lot of diving and organizational work, and my entire family has always been very passionate about both diving and athletics.

How did you end up in NTNUI and Trondheim then?
One of the main reasons I chose to move and apply to Trondheim is the diving group and the offerings there. NTNU is, of course, very good as well, but I knew many people from underwater rugby beforehand and knew that there were good people and a great crowd. I’ve been involved with the diving group from day 1, quite literally, since I applied to join it on Værnesekspressen when I moved here.

Yes, because that’s one of the offerings you have in the Diving Group?
Yes, we have three subgroups, consisting of the Diving Group, Underwater Rugby, and Freediving. Additionally, we have a social group, which I am mostly involved with these days. I serve as the Kjellersjef (cellar manager) in the board, responsible for the social aspect. However, I have been involved in all three subgroups.

What role do you have now?
I have mainly been in the Diving Group at NTNUI in various roles but have also been involved in working on matters related to swimming pool development, which I find very interesting.

But why do you engage so much in volunteering? Is it natural for you to be engaged?
Yes, it is. I know how much volunteers and enthusiasts matter for sports. It’s not necessarily the case that everything can be done for free, or that it’s taken for granted that it will be done, and someone has to do it. It’s something I have a lot of fun doing, and I do a lot of different things because of it. I’m involved in everything from costume design to building a new hot tub, organizing trips both in Norway and with our Finnish sister club, and much more. It’s also fun to be politically engaged on behalf of NTNUI and the Diving Group. I’ve, for instance, written an article in the newspaper about swimming pool appropriations and worked quite a bit on that. I find it rewarding to have roles, and it’s fun when you see the results of it.

It can easily become that you engage in a lot and take on many roles, but it seems like you really enjoy it?
It’s just a lot of fun. I get to do so many different things, and when you see that it direct results in the group members enjoying themselves and becoming better in their roles, it’s very rewarding.

SIgurd in the 17th of May parade with the Diving group.
Photo: Leonie Richarz/NTNUI Blits

What would you say is the coolest thing you’ve worked on in NTNUI?
Oh, that’s a good question! There are two things I find it very enjoyable to work on. The first one is the hot tub project that I’m leading. It’s a long-term project, but it’s starting to take shape. The swimming pool issue is something I’m very passionate about. Both through the article I wrote and also the user meeting with the sports council about the hall design and what was important there. It ended up with the diving group almost taking over that meeting and presenting suggestions for how to design the swimming pool area considering special groups like those involved in diving, underwater rugby, and synchronized swimming. It’s a project that, if well implemented, can have positive consequences for the city and users of the swimming pool for the next 60-70 years.

What’s the story behind the hot tub then? There have been rumors that the Diving Group has used and enjoyed it before.
It started with a trip to Finland where they had taken a trash bin, filled it with water, and called it a hot tub. But eventually, more people found that it’s also a lot of fun during trips, so they built pallet hot tubs on several occasions, using pallets and tarpaulin. When it became very popular, they bought a trailer, and I think they just built a pallet hot tub on top of that, but then it was easy to bring it along on trips. Now, we’re building a proper hot tub with an aluminum frame covered with insulation. We’ll then cast fiberglass over it to make it really solid and have a 28 kW pump, so it’ll be nice and warm. There are probably a few hundred work hours left, but many people are helping, so we’ll manage. I’ve worked on it for about 250 hours so far.

Wow, so there might be quite a bit of blood, sweat, and tears behind that hot tub?
A LOT. We’re also cutting XPS boards, which are pressure-resistant insulation. The sound of cutting through hundreds of meters, like styrofoam against styrofoam, is constant and quite awful, hahaha.

I’d like to ask you some fun questions at the end, just for fun. Are you in?
Yes, that’s great fun, so go ahead!

If you were stuck in an elevator with anyone in the world, who would it be?
I think Dag Sørås. He’s very funny and has a dark humor that you might need in an elevator. A little gallows humor is fun.

Rowing tights or devil’s hat?
Oh, that was a fun question, but I think I have to go with the devil’s hat because I’m so used to wearing a speedo because of underwater rugby, so it would be nice to have a head covering. Plus, we do a lot of boating in the Diving Group.

The suits Sigurd has designed for the Diving Group.
Photo: Private

Is there something you’d like to say right at the end about having roles since you seem quite reflective about this?
Having roles in volunteer work costs a lot, but it also gives back a lot more. Especially when it comes to working with others and helping them become better at what they do, and that’s very important. It’s not everything you need to financially benefit from, but it makes life really nice. You might risk burning out, so it’s important to remember that what you’re doing is voluntary work, and you don’t have to work yourself to death. The most important thing is the sport and that it’s fun to be involved with, as it’s easy to get absorbed in the roles. Sometimes you probably need to be more selfish and focus on what’s fun, not always having to take responsibility

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