With 4th of July right around the corner, I found it appropriate to blog about freedom. To begin with, it is important to define freedom. Freedom is the power to do what you want without hindrance or restraint (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/freedom). In my life, I experienced freedom when I joined the robotics program at my school. I was around people who supported creativity and encouraged outside of the box thinking! In school, students face there is one answer and the objective is to reach the correct answer. When I joined FIRST, it was this environment that encouraged unique answers, questions, and it is okay to fail as long as you find a solution.
I went from a student who knew nothing about the team to a third in the world champion. The achievement was an honor, but I was part of a team that mattered more than any award. The team, S.H.I.E.L.D. started years before I joined, but it changed when three girls joined in. Girls added a certain flair to the team. A little bit of style with matching shoes and shoelaces was added, but also new concepts for jigs. When the year started, it was just a team of students that saw each other around school. With every teamwork exercise you could see us getting closer. I will never forget at Worlds when it all came together and the last teamwork exercise we got comments about how it seemed like we forgot we were even in a judging room. It stopped just being a team that competed for trophies. It was a family that worked to achieve higher goals than winning. The secret to a team that will achieve goals in robotics and life is unity. Care, love, and sacrifice for one another.
Last year, I moved up to FTC. FTC has a twist where inspiration comes from still the coaches, mentors, supporters, teammates, but at this level even other teams help out. Not only because you have alliances, but just there whenever you need a pick me up or a tool! The Supposable Thumbs this year taught me that you influence others, but make sure to do it a positive way. The team consisted of 8th graders to high school seniors. The seniors set the tone most of the time. Being the youngest on the team, it showed me how much of an impact you can have younger students. After several FLL introduction camps, I realized my love for working with younger kids and guiding them to robotics. Most of the camps are done with students who have not seen a robot before. One team at a camp really sticks in my memory. One boy and one girl were my team and neither of them believed that they could learn programming in a few hours. The girl enjoyed programming and told me something I will never forget. She said, “I love this so much. I want this to be my job someday.” That is when it hit me how many people have not been exposed to FIRST. As members of FIRST from participants, coaches, mentors, volunteers, and supporters it is our job to spread it and open doors for others all over. Sharing it once could change someone’s future. I found freedom in encouraging others to learn!
FIRST is where I have found freedom to be different and I certainly am not discouraged for it. Thank you to the coaches, my supportive parents and sister, FIRST Ladies for allowing me to share, and my team members who are my second family. Lastly, I would like to thank the men and women that serve to give us freedom. Go out and find where you can free your mind with those who do not mind!
This blog was written by Vivica Lewis of FTC team 4106. If you are interested in blogging forFIRST Ladies, sign up on the schedule.