After finally being allowed entrance into the United States, an Afghan girls' robotics team mingled with teenagers from all over the world at the first Global Challenge in Washington D.C.
For these girls, ages 14 to 16, putting together a robot was only one of the challenges they faced. They traveled 500 miles from Herat, Afghanistan, to Kabul to apply for their travel visas so they could enter the U.S. for the competition. And even after they were denied, they continued to work on their robot, hoping it might inspire other students in Afghanistan and around the world.
"I wanted to show the talent and ability of Afghan students," one of the girls said. "Afghan women can make robots, too."
After President Donald Trump intervened late last week to allow them entry into America, the girls made the 20-hour trip from Kabul to Dulles International Airport to go up against teams from more than 160 countries at Constitution Hall.
Each team started with a box of the same parts and built a robot to perform a specific task.
The contestants partnered with other teams to foster a global spirit.
The Afghan team said they learned a lot from the other groups and hope to teach the world about Afghanistan.
Under the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, girls were forbidden to attend school under the penalty of death. After girls were allowed back to school in 2002, challenges remained because of deeply ingrained customs.
Though the girls didn’t win the Global Challenge competition, they did receive a silver award for their courageous achievements.