As a dedicated group of students, mentors, and volunteers, we aim to transform the culture of our community through the STEAM program and become some of the young leaders of science and technology. We want to develop and explore our minds and creativity and maybe unveil the genius inside of each one of us. This opportunity would allow us to invent, design, and create things that could possibly allow our community, our lives, and us. We want to make a difference and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great. We want to be that child and pursue our dreams to make a difference in people’s lives.

This beautiful statement comes from one of the competitors in the upcoming 2017 FIRST Global Challenge. Statements like this are what the Maker Movement is all about. The all girls robotics team from Afghanistan who are the team behind the above statement have shown they have a deep Maker Sprit by overcoming several obstacles to make it to the competition which starts July 16 in Washington DC.

Before even applying for visas this team had to persuade their parents to let them participate in this group and work diligently for six months on their ball-sorting robot. The girls come from Towhid, Malakai Jalalai and Hoze Karbas High Schools and designed and built their robot at the Better Idea Organization center, in Herat.

They then made the 500 mile trip from their Herat homes to the United States embassy in Kabul only to be denied visas twice. Fatema Ghaderyan, 14-year-old team member, told the Associated Press, “We just wanted to show the power and skills of Afghan girls to Americans.” Thankfully the denial of their visas was reversed Wednesday and the girls will be allowed to travel to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted them “parole,” authorizing a one-time, temporary entry into the country for humanitarian reasons or “significant public benefit,” a DHS spokesman told The Post.

The team expected to participate via Skype, as its robot had already been sent ahead and cleared customs. Now the Afghan team, as well as the team from Gambia will make up a diverse group of competitors made up of 163 teams from 157 countries. The importance of this diverse cohort was reinforced by FIRST Global President, former U.S. Navy Admiral and Congressman Joe Sestak in his Wednesday statement:

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. That is why I am most grateful to the US Government and its State Department for ensuring Afghanistan, as well as Gambia, would be able to join us for this international competition this year.

Founded by Dean Kamen, FIRST Global seeks to inspire youth from around the globe to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, so they can contribute to technology development and address the world’s most pressing issues. The 2017 FIRST Global Challenge will take place from July 16-18 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Good luck girls!