After Visa Delays, Afghan Women Robotics Group Reaches US For Competitors


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With two phrases – “Group Afghanistan” – the group assembled within the stands at DAR Structure Corridor erupted right into a deafening roar Sunday because the teen-aged ladies made their means onto a sprawling stage, waving their nation’s flag and donning head scarves in matching colours.Their triumphant entrance on the stage Sunday on the FIRST International Robotics Problem marked the top of a protracted and unsure journey to the US. As of final week, their dream of touring to what has been billed because the “Olympics of Robotics” had been shot down when their visas have been denied, regardless of two grueling journeys from their house in Herat to Kabul for interviews with the US State Division.

However after their plight made worldwide headlines, President Trump intervened on the final minute to grant the ladies passage to the US, they usually arrived Saturday.

Standing within the busy hallway of Structure Corridor, whereas her teammates tinkered with the robotic close by, Fatemah Qaderyu mentioned she was elated to lastly make it right here from her hometown in Herat, in western Afghanistan. The 14-year-old desires to check pc science when she will get older.”We really feel actually good that we are able to present our skills right here,” mentioned Fatemah. She mentioned she hopes to indicate the world what ladies like her are able to: “Afghanistan is not only a spot of warfare. Afghan ladies can construct robots and compete in world competitions.”

The three-day competitors attracts groups from 157 international locations – and a few multinational groups representing continents. One group – Group Hope – consists of refugees. FIRST has lengthy hosted competitions within the US, however that is the primary yr it’s internet hosting a world competitors. The crew representing the US consists of three ladies, who marched into the auditorium for the parade of countries to the Woody Guthrie music “This Land is Your Land.”

[These girls have built robots since they were toddlers. Now they’re competing on a world stage.]

The worldwide nature of the competitors got here with problems. Moreover the ladies from Afghanistan, the crew from Gambia additionally had points with their visas, in line with the Related Press, earlier than their purposes have been additionally in the end permitted. Due to sanctions, International FIRST was unable to ship a robotics package to Iran, the place a bunch of youngsters was awaiting the components to construct a robotic.

That may have spelled the top of the crew’s shot of going to the world championships. However the group launched them to a bunch of teen-aged robotics fans at Marshall Excessive in Fairfax County, Va. calling themselves Group Gryphon. The crew in Iran sketched out blueprints on the pc and despatched the designs to their counterparts throughout the ocean, after which corresponded over Skype.

Sunday, the crew flew the Iranian flag at their station subsequent to the flag of Group Gryphon – a black flag with a purple silhouette of the gryhpon – as an indication of their unlikely partnership. For Mohammadreza Karami, the crew’s mentor, it was an inspiring instance of cooperation.

“It is attainable to resolve the entire world’s issues if we put apart our politics and concentrate on peace,” Karami mentioned.

Kirsten Singer, a 16-year-old rising junior at Marshall Excessive, mentioned she wished to did not need the crew to be locked out of the competitors simply due to the sanctions.

“Everyone ought to have the ability to compete . . . and to study and to make use of that have for different elements of their life,” Singer mentioned.

© 2017 The Washington Put up

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