Hi. This is Sunbin Kim of FTC 8338 Team Shatterdome from South Korea.
As I was thinking of mentoring others, I wondered whether Shatterdome is considered as a mentor team or a mentee team. Frankly, as a 2-year-old toddler team, we still consider ourself a mentee team to all the more experienced teams who have helped us so much throughout our journey. They helped us prepare for the competition, arrange schedules in St.Louis –where the World Championships was held–, and some even offered us a tour. I concluded that the people who are involved in FIRST by any aspects are what makes FIRST special, and that all deserve to be called mentors.
After our experiences and memories in the 2014 World Championships, Shatterdome has decided that we should give back what we have learned and received to the teams who need our help. We started from our local community by contacting the existing Korean teams. However, we figured that most of the teams does not last more than a multiple years because it is really hard to sustain a robotics team here. FTC Korea is still very small, and still very new so a lot of companies are unwilling to help us. As the head of the documentation division, I have contacted numerous representatives and workers in Korea and the States. The main difference was that Korean companies rejected our offer because we are a team consisted of only high school students without an adult coach. Our school was unwilling because we are just one of the startup clubs that the school had to fund. The only way we could get sponsors was to visit them ourselves and show them that we have a potential to grow and that our team can sustain ourself only if we have more sponsors. We did presentations and sent e-mails to a lot of companies even though we knew that the possibility of getting sponsorship was very low.
Through our experiences, we learned that it is more than POSSIBLE to run a robotics team in Korea, and we wanted to tell this fact to all the Korean robotics teams and all the other teams who might be going through similar hardships. In order to decrease their hardships, we made a forum to facilitate communication and translated all the FTC and FLL manuals in Korean–used as official Korean manuals by FEST– to help them. However, we felt like this wasn’t enough. Team Shatterdome luckily had numerous mentor teams located in the states who were willing to help us, but language barriers stopped other Korean teams from communicating with US teams. So we publish an article about other teams by interviewing them who have experience and has specialty that they can share with the Korean teams. These teams have become a guideline and an example for other Korean teams to follow.
I think being a mentor means not just to provide the mentees what they need, but to give them indirect help so that they could grow on their own and thrive even when the mentor is not present. That is what Shatterdome has been trying to do so far. Now as a partner of Mentor Without Borders, Shatterdome is trying to take a bigger step by reaching out our hand to all the teams in Asia and listen to their needs.
Like the Judge’s Award we recently received from 2015 World Championships, we are trying to “make it loud” within a bigger community. The cooperative atmosphere and the love that exists among participants are why I am so involved in FIRST and why I will stay in FIRST even after I graduate. Team Shatterdome will keep on mentoring other teams and spread this amazing opportunity to more people.
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