In the heart of Central America there is a small country whose name is Honduras, land of courageous people who struggle with many kinds of issues, yet those cannot stop young people from dreaming. For this reason, one cloudy day of January 2017, we got involved in an outstanding project of FIRST GLOBAL. Even though we’re students who come from rural areas and had no prior knowledge about robotics, we were convinced that we could do our best to participate in such a magnificent competition.
We clearly wanted to go, however, we weren’t confident about our STEM skills. And it seemed the sponsors doubted we could succeed since we didn’t have technological abilities that allowed us to build a proficient robot to compete. Nevertheless, we got Shoulder to Shoulder’s support, an American NGO that implements health and education programs in the frontier of Intibucá, to give people a better quality of life. Then, two neighboring communities had the opportunity to choose students who were interested in robotics, to be part of Team Honduras. Since that time, we’ve been participating in every FIRST GLOBAL Robotics competition with new team members each time.
As a team we pursue three main goals which are these: First, to learn about team work by sharing ideas to solve problems, and second, developing our own creativity. Our third goal is to encourage team members to become leaders in their schools and communities. As a matter of fact, we take advantage of team members with previous experience in robotics competitions to coach new team members, both in the National Robotics Team, and also in Lego League teams. Besides, we want to learn about STEM to spread our knowledge among kids who become part of local Lego League teams to pursue regional competitions every year in this level.
We enjoy ourselves preparing for each challenge, however, we’ve faced some obstacles while getting ready for each competition. First of all, lack of economic resources. That doesn’t let us focus on working exclusively in our project, as a result we invest time requesting money from local authorities and particular people or institutions. While it is true that we have a great sponsor, we can’t let them bear all the burdens because they solve the main expenses, so we have to get some more resources for personal needs as food, transportation, and logistics. Secondly, we live in neglected areas, so we can’t count on governmental support. Finally, there are some teachers who don’t understand that students who are team members dedicate time to work on the challenge. This causes pressure and stress since those teachers deny team members permission to hand in an assignment late, grant an extension, or postpone a test date.
As a result, the progress on our project is slowed. Despite these issues, we’ve had outstanding success each year. In 2017 we got 40th place in the ranking which was good for a rookie robotics team. After that, we improved our ranking position to 16th place in 2018 and we won silver medal for engineering and, we got a safety award. In Dubai, we got 15th position in the ranking last year, and the second place for the best story and trajectory (judges award). Hopefully this year we’ll improve the previous ranking positions.
Inspiration came to us the day when the Shoulder to Shoulder director told us about the FIRST GLOBAL competition whose main goal is “to ignite the passion for STEM”, so the opportunity of being part of the challenge was before us. They have supported us through donations, and volunteers’ work which expands the desire to collaborate in making this world a better place to live. In addition, they hired Alan Ostrow as our coach. He inspired us through his experience and knowledge in robotics, and his availability to work with us no matter the distance and time. He connected his team members to be in touch with us with the purpose of sharing what they have learned. Furthermore, he believed in us, despite several people in our country who didn’t believe we could succeed.
FIRST GLOBAL is a Fundamental organization that joins young people around the world not only to compete in robotics but also to share culture, knowledge, and leadership. Every year, as we prepare to participate in a global competition, we gain more experience and knowledge which becomes an important technological change that we need to contribute to our people’s development. For this reason, our team journey represents hope and conviction even in difficult times, when we can do the most incredible things!