I am Sunbin Kim, an alumni and a passionate supporter of Team Shatterdome (FTC 8338 – South Korea). This post is for everyone whether it is someone who is tired in the process of preparing for a higher-level FIRST competition or someone who is a family member, friend, or even a sponsor of a participant.
I would like to give all of you a piece of advice that I have learned from my experience in FIRST TECH Challenge for last 3 years, which includes struggles, tears, and frustrations, but also friendships, memories, and success. I have written a blog before to introduce the reality of starting a robotics team in Asia 2 years ago, but now I that I have graduated from high school, I have more stories to confess and share with everyone.
It all goes back to 2014 Block Party season when my team was preparing for our first World Championships. It was also our rookie year, so everyone was nervous about competing against the best teams, meeting new people, and just the fact that we are traveling to the states. But we needed money for plane tickets, hotel reservation, food, etc. There were much more to spend than we had and we didn’t want to make our parents pay for all of it. As the vice captain, I started to write, call, and even visit numerous companies that represent Korea. And guess what? Not a single company wanted to sponsor us. That might sound strange since Korea does have a lot of IT leading companies. But they all rejected me saying that “They can not trust High school students because we are too young.” I have never told my teammates –if any of you guys end up reading this, hehe I’m embarrassed– but frankly, I cried a lot. I wasn’t disappointed that I wasn’t able to get any money. I was very upset that nobody supported us. The school thought that we would not be able to succeed so they didn’t even allow us going to the World Championships at first. But we couldn’t stop. Because we were so sure that we would make unforgettable memories and build amazing network of friends there. We continued contacting them, updating our achievements and specifying our goals and dreams. We ended up getting sponsors and supporters through out the world now. We won the judge’s award last year at the Worlds, and I made great friends who are always supportive. I would never regret my choice and I hope you all gain something as special and valuable as I have.
$80,000 can afford our traveling fees, food, and all the supplies and tools we want. It would make us very happy and thankful. It might even help us win with a better robot. But that itself can’t increase the value of our team. It won’t encourage us to chase our dreams. But simple warm words will.
I would never forget the moment when I opened my emailed and saw Professor Hong’s reply that changed my mind to try harder. Dennis Hong –UCLA robotics professor– said, “I am grateful to hear that there is such a great Robotics team in South Korea. I am so proud of you all.”
Is your teammates/friend/daughter/son tired and annoyed that the competition dates are getting closer but the robot isn’t working or the motor keeps burning? All you need to do is to give a big warm hug and say, “I believe in you. You can do it!”
This blog was written by Sunbin Kim. If you are interested in blogging for blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.