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Six Afghan schoolgirls banned from entering U.S. for robotics competition

One of the inventors, 14-year-old Fatemah, told Forbes she loves making robots because it feels like she’s bringing something totally new into the world.The girls were supposed to compete in the FIRST Global Challenge.Joe Sestak, FIRST Global President and former congressman, has stated that he was disappointed at the rejection of the Afghanistan Team’s travel visas.To interview for their visas, the girls risked a 500 mile trek cross-country to the American embassy in Kabul.Afghanistan’s first female tech boss Roya Mahboob, who founded software firm Citadel, organised the all-girl team and said they were “crying all day” after they were turned down.Joe Sestak, president of First Global, said he was disappointed that the “extraordinarily fearless young women” from Afghanistan won’t be joining the other students in DC this month.”In Afghanistan, as you know it’s a very man-dominated industry”, Mahboob, who put the team together, told Mashable.We are the first robotic team with The Digital Citizen Fund (DCF) based in Herat, Afghanistan.”We want to develop and explore our minds and creativity and maybe unveil the genius inside of each one of us”, the team wrote on their webpage. “The girls, they’re showing at a young age that they can build something”.Six teenage Afghan girls were denied one-week visas into the United States to compete in a global robotics competition-but that won’t keep the resilient group from going for gold.Only the teams from Afghanistan and Gambia have been denied travel visas, while students from Iran, Iraq, and Sudan are able to attend. Escotto stressed that the organization worked very closely with the State Department in seeking to get visas for teams from all countries attending the competition, and he called the State Department “instrumental” in helping throughout the visa process.As the Forbes article points out, the State Department won’t comment on confidential visa denials, but it’s become recently very hard to travel from from Afghanistan to the U.S.Luckily Team Afghanistan now has permission to send the robot. The State Department feared ISIS might try to use these parts on the battlefield, which is why they delayed sending them to the girls.The girls received help with the programing of their robot from graduate students Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.