Published: Fri, July 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

US Will Welcome Afghan Girls' Robotics Team To Compete After All

US Will Welcome Afghan Girls' Robotics Team To Compete After All

The girls will compete with teams from almost 160 other nations in the FIRST Global Challenge, an worldwide robotics competition taking place in Washington, D.C., next week.

This is a temporary status given to a person who is otherwise ineligible to travel to a country, allowing them entry for an emergency, humanitarian goal or public interest. As Forbes reported, even though Afghanistan is not one of the countries mentioned in Trump's partially reinstated travel ban, the rate of visas approved from the country in recent months have been low.

The non-profit organizing the competition celebrated the reversal in a jubilant statement Wednesday.

The visa denial was not the first hurdle the girls from western Afghanistan's Herat area had to face from the July 16-18 competition, wrote Politico.

No explanation for how the change occurred was given, though Talbot confirmed that the girls are now authorized to come to America on the "parole" system, a non-visa program that allows people to temporarily stay in the U.S.

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The president of First Global, Joe Sestak, welcomed the decision. Now, all 163 teams from 157 countries will be able to participate in the competition in person. "We applied again for the United States visa and we were rejected again".

The competition will take place this coming Sunday through Tuesday. Farooqi and her teammates worked seven days a week, for six months, to build their robot, and twice made the unsafe 500-mile trip from Herat to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Teams from Syria, Iran and Sudan - countries that are part of the order - were granted visas.

A student team from Gambia also was granted visas last week after initially being rejected.

Charity First Global holds its annual robotics challenge in the hope of sparking an interest in science and technology.

The girls will participate in the FIRST Global Challenge, an annual worldwide robotics competition created to "ignite a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among the more than two billion youths across the world", according to the organization's website. Robots will compete to collect clean and contaminated water "particles" represented by differently colored balls, and cooperation among the teams will also be rewarded throughout the competition, Mr. Sestak said.

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