Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump signed a bill that was meant to encourage Women in STEM. Though, rightly so, people have questioned President Trump’s viewpoint on science* as a whole, the week of July 9th, Trump urged US officials to allow girls from Afghanistan into the country in order to compete in a US Robotics competition. This was initially reported on by Politico.
Before July 13th, these six Afghan girls were denied entry into the United States twice.# The reason, as of the writing of this article, has yet to be explained. Media outlets such as the Washington Post suggested the theory that US officials may think that girls wouldn’t return home — instead opting to become immigrants. “Scholarship students,” Writes Post author Pamela Constable “academic fellows and teachers who receive temporary visas to visit the United States often vanish into immigrant communities instead of returning home.” Assuming this statement is true, the reason would most likely be because of how war-torn places like Afghanistan currently are.
The contest began on July 16th, and goes on until the 18th in Washington DC. This means the girls were allowed entry into the country just three days prior to the competition taking place.
One of the team members, named Samaya Farooqi, who is 14-years-old, recalled how heartbroken she and the rest of the team was to realize that they had been denied a temporary visa into the country. According to Business Insider, she said: “When we heard that we were rejected we lost hope. We applied again for the U.S. visa and we were rejected again.”
Business Insider also reported that the girls had made a long, physical journey twice in order to try to get permission to travel to the US. “[The girls] made the [500-mile] journey to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul twice because their applications were denied the first time, even though that location was targeted by a deadly truck bomb on May 31 in which more than 150 people were killed and more than 400 others wounded.”
Strong will and determination have gotten them into the US in order to compete and to “show the world that Afghans could also construct a hand-made robot“. Their fight to get into the country has shown how worthy they are to even be in the competition. Of course, they had already proven themselves via their intelligence and standing in robotics — they shouldn’t have had to fight so hard to get into the country. Nevertheless, the outcome has a bright side. They may now compete.
We wish them the best.