That Afghan Girls Robotics Team Just Won A Silver Medal After Being Allowed Into U.S.

Their entry to the U.S. was initially denied, but the girls made the most of being allowed in.

The Afghanistan girls robotics team that was initially denied visas to the United States will be leaving the FIRST Global robotics competition with a silver medal for "courageous achievement."


Their team was made up of six teenaged girls from rural Afghanistan, who twice had visa applications denied while trying to organize their trip to the competition in Washington, D.C. After a public outcry and a signed letter from congress, President Donald Trump and the State Department stepped in to grant the girls entry for one week on a "parole" system.

In an interview with A Plus last week, Roya Mahboob, who founded The Digital Citizen Fund that sponsored Afghan team, said she was "stunned" to learn of the reversal.

"I saw somebody tweet it to me and I was like 'oh my god,' I just couldn't believe it," Mahboob said. "It's beyond our expectations, beyond the words I can find."

The six girls were chosen from a team of 150 applicants, The New York Times reported, and they spent two weeks building their robot. FIRST Global's competition theme was solving the global water crisis, so the Afghan girls had a robot compete in competitions where it sorted balls of different colors that represented clean and contaminated water. 

Digital Citizen Fund

Their silver medal for courageous achievement was awarded based on their "can-do" attitude, ABC News reported. The gold medal went to South Sudan and the bronze medal went to Oman, whose entire team was made up of deaf students.

Joe Sestak, a former Democratic nominee for Senate and the Vice President of FIRST Global, told A Plus he saw the event as a way to bring the world together and highlight commonalities between nations.

"I honestly believe the greatest power of America is the power to convene," Sestak said. "To bring together nations and see their differences are so much less than what they have in common."


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