FIRST Robotics Canada Update on “courageous achievement” by Afghan Robotics Team
Toronto, ON, (July 19, 2017) – A renown team of teenage girls from Afghanistan proudly accepted a silver medal for “courageous achievement” at the FIRST Global Challenge in Washington, DC. The all-girls robotics team attracted international attention after team members traveled 800 kilometers to the American Embassy in Kabul, only to have their visas rejected twice. One week prior to the event, the girls were finally granted entry into the United States and were able to compete.
The FIRST Global Challenge is a yearly “Olympics”-style robotics event that engages students from over 150 nations and builds bridges between high school students with different backgrounds, languages, religions and customs. FIRST Global is a not-for-profit public charity based in the US and operates independently from FIRST Robotics Canada. FIRST Global and FIRST Robotics Canada are both affiliates of the overarching FIRST organization based in the US. Although FIRST Robotics Canada is not directly affiliated with FIRST Global and their events, staff at FIRST Canada reached out to US counterparts to inquire about the denial of the Visas for the Afghan girls and brainstorm ways to support. FIRST Global had arranged for the Afghan girls in Washington to connect via SKYPE so the team could compete with their robot remotely. Several FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams in Ontario reached out to FIRST Robotics Canada wanting to help the girls and asked if the team could compete in Canada for the 2018 season. FIRST Robotics Canada is currently in discussions to investigate the possibility and logistics of securing Visas to Canada.
FIRST Robotics Canada values equity, diversity, and inclusion. FIRST Canada welcomes the opportunity to support these values internationally and provide learning opportunities for teams like the Afghan girls to participate in.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international non-profit organization designed to inspire students to pursue studies and careers in science, engineering and technology. Over 400,000 students participate in FIRST programs worldwide. FIRST Robotics Canada, which was started in 2002, has over 1000 teams in Canada and now reaches over 20,000 Canadian students. More information can be found at archive.firstroboticscanada.org.