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Posts Tagged ‘afghan girls’

Photo: Cliff Owen/Associated Press
The Afghan team at the opening ceremony of the First Global robotics competition in Washington in July.

Did you read about the ups and downs of the young Afghan girls who ran into the travel ban when they tried to come to July’s robotics competition in Washington?

Emily Cochrane wrote about it at the NY Times.

“It took an international outcry and intervention from President Trump and other officials to allow [six] girls from an Afghan robotics team to receive visas after two rejections, letting them travel to the United States for participation in First Global, an international robotics contest.

“For three days in the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, where an African-American woman was once denied the right to sing before an integrated audience in the 1930s, the Afghan girls in head scarves were stars on an international stage, with cameras, lights and whispers trailing them from practice to competition. …

“Wai Yan Htun, 18, a member of Myanmar’s team who stopped to get the Afghans’ signatures on his shirt, said: ‘We love them. They’re like superheroes in this competition.’ …

“In the competition, teams of three, equipped with kits that included wheels, gears and two video game controllers, chased down blue and orange balls, which represented clean and contaminated water. In two-and-a-half-minute rounds, teams guided the robots to sweep the balls into openings based on their color.

“ ‘It’s way more fun, way more exciting than bouncing a ball,’ said Dean Kamen, one of the organization’s founders and inventor of the Segway. ‘That’s not a competition out there. That’s a celebration.’ …

“The six students were chosen from an initial pool of 150 applicants. They built their robot in two weeks, compared with the four months some of their competitors had, because their kit’s shipment was delayed. …

“While the team did not place in the top ranks overall, their final performance, they agreed, was better than they had hoped for. …

“ ‘I am so happy and so tired,’ Alireza Mehraban, an Afghan software engineer who is the team’s mentor, said after the competition concluded.

“Mr. Mehraban said the contest had been an opportunity to change perceptions about the girls’ country. ‘We’re not terrorists,’ he said. ‘We’re simple people with ideas. We need a chance to make our world better. This is our chance.’ …

“ ‘God made this planet for something like this, all the people coming together as friends,’ said Alineza Khalili Katoulaei, 18, the captain of the Iranian team, gesturing to the Iraqi and Israeli teams standing nearby. ‘Politics cannot stop science competitions like this.’ ”

More at the NY Times, here.

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