New York Times says “it took an international outcry and intervention from President Trump” to allow an Afghan robotics team to travel to the United States for a competition after they were denied visas – twice. But on Tuesday morning, the young Afghan girls managed to compete in the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition held in Washington DC.
While the team did not place in the top ranks overall, the girls say that they were proud of their performance and that it was better than they had hoped for. The team had only two weeks to build their robot, named Better Idea of Afghan Girls, because customs had held up their kit’s shipment (for comparison, their competitors had four months to prepare their robots). Team Europe ended up taking the gold, while the Polish and Armenian teams took silver and bronze, respectively. “I’m just proud that we show the talent of the women,” says Roya Mahboob, a celebrated Afghan technology entrepreneur who sponsored the Afghan team. “We see that there is change.”
Ivanka Trump spoke at the event, applauding the students’ work and dedication. “For many of you who have traveled great lengths to be here, we welcome you,” she said, turning to smile at the six Afghan girls. “It’s a privilege and an honor to have you all with us.”
But the girls did not leave empty handed. The judges awarded the Afghans a silver medal as part of an award for courageous achievement. “We don’t have the words to say how happy we are,” said Rodaba Noori, 16. “So proud of ourselves.”