I had no idea what to expect as I participated in the SAIH Fall Gathering this year. Being a new member, I decided to take all opportunities, and leave doubts behind with this promising organization so I packed my sleeping bag and toothbrush and headed out into my first experience with SAIH.
Off- loading my things from the bus, I got out and took in the fresh air of Nærnes. The activity ground was within a quaint community of residents. It was a calm and soothing place close to the sea.
My first sight of fellow activists was to be at dinner–served nearly immediately after arrival. I met some of the most active of the bunch, as well as some new members (even some internationals from America, Canada, the UK, Georgia, Germany, and others). They were great to talk to over lunch, and every other meal to follow.
We then proceeded to have a bonding session by the sea. I was tasked to gather wood for a bonfire, and that I did.
Through this activity, numerous conversations were sparked among the members of SAIH (with marshmallow, sausage, and beer in hand). I personally got to talk about the supernatural, and other such random topics. It was great fun, and I went to bed looking forward to the conversations to come.
The next day, the main topic of the gathering made its entrance. OPEN ACCESS.
Nick Shockey, the guest speaker, took the helm, and gave the participants a provocative, persuasive presentation.
Here’s what I got from it:
1.) We are the future. Why do you block our source of knowledge with prices we can’t afford?
2.) Knowledge, if opened up to the world will create great things
3.) If I was not in a university, my resources would be strictly limited
4.) We pay taxes for this, why the hell do we need to pay more?
Open access is all about allowing students to access academic journals via free databases. This not only makes research easier for us university students, it also creates opportunities for visionaries of every age, i.e. the information they need to fulfill their dreams will now be free of charge.
Following the presentation, we had activities like a race, some discussion, and Q&A all related to Open Access. And, it was apparent that many, if not all, the participants enjoyed running around and expressing their thoughts on the topic. Some of them even got to sing, or rant their hearts out at the poetry, singing competition.
After getting some rest, we would return to the site for a Danseband [a parody of] party. I didn’t know what a Danseband was, so I picked out a good dress shirt (I thought it was formal). It turns out, it really was a practical joke on Norwegian elders, and their parties.
The participants donned outfits that represented a sort of retro, silly feel. A mix of 50s and 60s style I could concur, but I’m not completely sure. The music in the background, I found out, was a sort of swing dance: a ballad type with cheesy lyrics, and I enjoyed it for the most part (Ha-ha).
The final day came, and with that, more emphasis on what it was to be part of SAIH. There were various workshops to help students know their role in the organization. What struck me was an early morning speech from one of the leaders. He helped me understand what it meant to be an activist, and how we are really helping as activists. To paraphrase it, he told us that many may doubt us, but they simply aren’t looking at the data properly.
After a last meal of leftovers (it was heavenly), we trotted back to the bus stop, and made our way home.
This experience is one to remember with so many opinions, and arguments going around. Indeed, it’s great to hear from fellow students around Norway.