The journey began with a 24-hour plane trip, and ended in the experience of a lifetime. Over
Thanksgiving break, representatives from Poway’s Robotics program traveled to Paraguay to teach students to build and control robots, and to help establish robotics education programs throughout the country.
The trip was a part of Project Lead The Way, which helps develop STEM curricula for elementary, middle, and high schools. Led by Robotics Head Coach Roger Dohm, preparations for the trip had been underway for months.
“For us to come there to [Paraguay]… it’s super inspirational to them, so that’s why we made the big effort to show up,” Dohm said.
The trip offered students a chance to practice their Spanish, experience a new culture, and enrich the lives of other high school students.
“Language was the hardest,” Evan Donaldson said. “All of them spoke some English… [but] it was more comfortable for them if I spoke Spanish.”
Even if it was difficult, however, students from both Poway and Paraguay were able to overcome the language barrier and connect with one another.
“The conversational Spanish that [our students] got to do, the friendships that they made even though they didn’t have a full vocabulary… it was amazing,” Dohm said.
Language challenges aside, the trip gave students the opportunity to experience a new culture while enriching the lives of fellow high school students.
“The most memorable part was seeing the kids at that workshop who had never played with a robot get to play with the robot,” sophomore Cecilia Gant said. “I would definitely recommend [a trip like this] to anybody, even if they weren’t in Robotics.”
After a positive experience in Paraguay, Poway is looking to expand its outreach abroad. Another trip is already being planned for over winter break; this time, to Benin, Africa.
“We’re going to be working with Benin and our goal is also working with Nigeria,” Dohm said.
Robotics also works with countries such as Mexico, Turkey, and Israel, all virtually, as part of Project Lead The Way. While Africa and a return to Paraguay are the only trips currently planned, Dohm is actively seeking out more experiences abroad for his students.
Going abroad to teach robotics is another extension of Poway’s community outreach work. Now Titans have the opportunity to travel with their school to help not only students in their own country, but in countries around the world, too.