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Home / Afghan Girls Robotics Team – Receive Silver for ‘courage’

Afghan Girls Robotics Team – Receive Silver for ‘courage’

Earlier this month, the FIRST Global Challenge took place in Washington DC. The robotics competition attracted teams of teenagers from over 150 nations, with few drawing more attention than an Afghanistan squad made up entirely of girls. The two day event saw the teams competing in a number of categories including engineering design, innovation and international unity. The girls – Kawsar Rashan, Lida Azizi, Somayeh Faruqi, and Rodaba Noori – won a silver medal for ‘courageous achievement,’ an award recognising the teams that displayed a ‘can-do’ attitude despite difficult circumstances or unexpected obstacles while preparing for the competition. When you learn about their path to the FIRST Global Challenge, their reward seems all the more deserved, with the all-girl squad eventually relying on the intervention of the US State Department to get the team visa’s. (For those wanting to know, South Sudan took the gold in the courageous achievement category, while an Omani team, all of whom are deaf, took bronze.

The most cumulative points across all competitions was achieved by a combined Europe team.) Although Afghanistan’s route to the competition may have been unorthodox, the make up of their team was not. Of the 830 teens participating, 209 were girls. Sixty percent of the teams who participated were founded, lead or organised by women, and six teams were all-girl.

On top of this, the Syrian team was made up of three refugees. In a poignant nod to their past – and an inspired ode to their future – they named their robot ‘Robogee’. The FIRST Global Challenge was a truly inspiring competition. To know that such a diverse array of nations, many of which rarely get the chance to compete on any sort of international setting, were able to showcase their extraordinary talents on so grand a stage is heartwarming. These teenagers are the engineers, scientists, thinkers and makers of tomorrow. To see them all inspire one another to succeed gives us great hope for the future of not only our nation, but the international community as a whole. FIRST Global President, former U.S. Navy Admiral and Congressman Joe Sestak, may have best summed up these feelings when he described the significance of Afghanistan’s late inclusion: ‘I truly believe our greatest power is the power to convene nations, to bring people together in the pursuit of a common goal and prove that our similarities greatly outweigh our differences.’

Featured image: Team Afghanistan (not including the Australian in the pineapple waistcoat) Kawsar Rashan, Lida Azizi, Somayeh Faruqi, and Rodaba Noori. Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin.

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