Student Leader Defines WCE Refurbishing Clubs
Alice Yu, a junior at Andover High School, runs two of World Computer Exchange’s first refurbishing clubs in Massachusetts. The Computer Fusion Club meets once a month at the high school, and another group meets once a month at Alice’s home. Alice first learned of WCE when she was searching for a place to donate her old laptops. “What attracted me to WCE is that, by refurbishing and repairing the recycled computers, WCE reduces pollution, conserves resources, and helps youth worldwide. From my experience of working for WCE, I feel that it is not only meaningful but also exciting, which gives me a chance to disassemble and repair computers.”
Over the years, Alice has taken her passion for tech and desire to help others and created a successful refurbishing club. Her valuable experience of leading a group of volunteers through the refurbishment process has resulted in many lives changed through technology, as well as plenty of advice for those who want to begin a WCE Refurbishing Club like our new ones in San Jose, California, Monrovia, Liberia, and in Santurce and Jayuya, Puerto Rico.
Before meetings, Alice makes sure all the necessary supplies are available (USB installation drives, notebooks, power cords, operation guides) and makes sure the room is a suitable temperature. Arguably the most important preparation, she makes sure that snacks abound.
One of the biggest challenges Alice has faced in the club is getting volunteers to work efficiently. Something she has found very helpful to combat this is to chat with the volunteer students to guide them and to discover what part of the process their interests and skills best suit. Alice takes special care of new volunteers: “Usually, I will follow the newcomers and guide them through the process of refurbishing computers. I work with the volunteers together, answer their questions, and solve their troubles.”
In her tenure as club leader, Alice (she is the bottom left in the picture on the left) has found key ways to keep the club running smoothly. As leader, Alice finds it important to be familiar with every procedure she asks the volunteers to complete, and to be able to troubleshoot and solve the various technical issues that arise. For the club to produce as many refurbished computers as possible, Alice encourages the volunteers, makes sure they know precisely what they are doing, and ensures that the club provides a challenging and safe working environment. She has found that students younger than 6th grade have trouble with the technical aspects of the refurbishing, so they need more one-on-one attention and guidance to reach their full potential. On a more technical note, it is important to choose a space that has enough power outlets, as well as to provide volunteers with wide-vision goggles which are suggested for working with computers. Special care needs to be taken to disconnect laptops/notebooks from their batteries while they are being refurbished, and all parts of the computer must be safely and responsibly recycled/disposed of by the club.
Each WCE Refurbishing Club is under the local WCE chapter. The Andover clubs are under WCE-Boston where Pamela Cooney is the Coordinator. She is also the WCE Director of Operations. Pam says: ¨I am enthusiastic about Alice. She is so professional and dedicated. She is a remarkable student leader. It has been fun to get to know Alice and her supportive parents. It will be great to get to follow Alice´s future life!¨ Pam added: ¨Our work with so many high school students like Alice in the Boston area has been made possible by the generous donations of Carla Bregman.¨
After a visit to one of WCE-Boston´s sites, sponsor Carla Bregman met Alice. Recently, Carla remembered, “I found Alice to be a remarkably engaging and mature young woman who is highly knowledgable about the work she is doing in her clubs. She runs them with utmost confidence and skill and she offers an exceptional level of guidance for all participants. During my visit to WCE’s Somerville refurbishing site, where Alice also volunteers, I was impressed by the ease with which she solved technical issues encountered by other volunteers and as well as by her friendliness, as important an asset as her expertise in enabling others to feel comfortable with their tasks. I very much enjoyed meeting Alice and think she is doing amazing work that is vital to the progress of WCE and that can inspire other students to undertake similar initiatives.”
With Alice leading, the clubs have processed 150 laptops, some of which have gone to Tanzania, Ghana and India. Alice puts in a remarkable amount of time and effort to the refurbishing club. She has even begun selling components salvaged from bad laptops on eBay, raising over $2,500 to help replace batteries for laptops and support WCE’s operations. In return, the club gives Alice some of her favorite moments like, “when the re-born computers have been packed and are ready to ship. It always makes me feel that I am a part of something greater than myself. My favorite thing about the club is that our work turns trash into treasure and gives them to people in need.” Alice’s leadership will continue to allow the clubs to flourish, and we can learn from her excellent example.