Syrian robotics team stops by Wilson

Photo courtesy of Angela Benjamin

Talya Lerich

They started in a refugee camp in Syria. Two weeks ago, they were at Wilson. The Hope of Syria robotics team came to the US to compete in the Vex Robotics Competition, which was held from April 25 through 28 in Louisville, Kentucky. They stopped by Wilson on Tuesday, May 8 as a part of this trip.

“You see what it takes to get into the country from Syria,” said Angela Benjamin, head of the engineering department at Wilson. “They were sponsored by the Syrian Medical Society,” she said, which allowed the team to spend two weeks in the U.S. visiting other high school robotics teams to which Wilson was lucky to be included in.

At the competition, Hope of Syria won the Inspire Award, which overall consists of having “inspired judges with their approach to competitive robotics,” according to the Vex Robotics website. . “They were so proud of their award that they won at the Vex Competition that they carried it with them and showed it to us,” Benjamin said.

Though the team did not speak any English, alternate forms of communication proved the power of science. “Any time they saw something that had to do with the robot they had a common language and it was outstanding,” Benjamin said.

“It was amazing,” added senior Andonny Garcia, who is also known as Captain Garcia, and is a captain of the Wilson robotics team. “It allowed us to disregard the language barrier. We were still able to communicate through gestures and pointing.”

While they were there, Benjamin showed the Syrian team the materials Wilson uses. “I found that they don’t have that many supplies,” she said. “So we gave them some of ours.”

For Garcia, having Hope of Syria at Wilson was an extremely gratifying and humbling experience. “It really goes to show the power of engineering and how it brings people together,” he said.