HERAT, Afghanistan — A 2017 wall calendar dangled from a nail over Kawsar Roshan’s bed on the otherwise blank wall of her room. “Best year for me” she had written, in curly script, above aerial photos of lakes and waterfalls. She drew a smiley-face next to her wobbly English letters.
The out-of-date calendar was “nothing too special,” said Kawsar, though she does love waterfalls, especially Niagara Falls — which she saw with her own eyes during that best year.
Kawsar, then 16, saw a lot of places as a member of Afghanistan’s first-ever girls’ robotics team. More than any other Afghan girl she knows. Or boy. Or even grown-up, for that matter.
You may remember hearing about that team. In the summer of 2017, Kawsar and five teammates, along with their coach, were denied visas into the United States for a robotics competition in Washington, prompting an international outcry.
Eventually, 53 members of Congress signed a petition and President Trump intervened to get the girls travel documents on special humanitarian grounds. They received a silver medal in “courageous achievement” and Congressional certificates of merit. Back in Afghanistan, they were received as icons of progress, though some sniped that they had dressed immodestly while abroad and compromised their marriageability.
In the time since, the photogenic troupe of teenage girls in head scarves and protective goggles has shuttled between their homes in Herat and competitions in North America, suitcases bulging with robotics contraptions, trophies and rice cookers.
They met Ivanka Trump three times. Justin Trudeau offered to be their backup robot driver. The rapper Will.i.am, one of their sponsors, took so many selfies with the girls that Lida Azizi, the team’s robot driver, called him, “a true friend.”
Over and over again, they were showered with a compliment to which they never quite knew how to respond: “It’s so inspiring to see an all-Muslim team.”
They amassed tens of thousands of Facebook followers and, as their English improved, learned the art of the sound bite, delivering messages about “resilience” and “self-confidence.”
It was an unimaginable odyssey between two worlds, as their friends and families faced continued violence in Afghanistan. While at a major competition in Mexico City last summer, the girls awoke to news that a suicide bomber in Kabul had killed 47 boys about their age in a college-exam prep class. They traded pajamas for black head scarves and posted a selfie on Facebook with a sign that read, “We continue for you.”
Now, with peace negotiations underway involving the Taliban, many inside and around Afghanistan are fearful that recent gains in women’s rights and girls’ education could be washed away. Earlier this month, Roya Mahboob, an Afghan expat tech entrepreneur and the team’s founder, sent a letter to Ms. Trump, who had been so enthusiastic about the team, pleading that the youth of Afghanistan not be forgotten in the talks; last week, Ms. Mahboob met with the United States’ special envoy for Afghan reconciliation.
The girls’ one-year visas expired in the fall, so they are focused now mostly on school: Kawsar and Fatemah Qaderyan, the team’s pint-size captain and a “Harry Potter” fan, study English in an after school program, and Lida, dreaming of college in Canada, where the team trained last winter, is being tutored by an uncle.
They are eager for peace, of course, though concerned that a newly empowered Taliban could further stifle girls’ ambitions. Such a future, Kawsar said recently via What’sApp, “would be unbelievable for me.” She added a sad-face emoji.
It is not often that teenagers get to travel the world. It was unheard-of for 16-year-old girls from Afghanistan — girls not used to leaving the house without a male chaperone, girls whose peers were getting married — to travel the world competing in robotics.
Before it all started, the only robots they had known were the drones used by the American military. And the only Americans they had seen outside of television were soldiers in armored cars.
We followed Kawsar and her teammates through much of that “best year.” These are snapshots from their journey.
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Their odyssey started with an invitation from an American inventor named Dean Kamen, who had founded a robotics league in the United States decades before and in 2017 planned an Olympics-style competition. He enlisted Ms. Mahboob to put together an Afghan team.
More than 150 girls turned up to try out. A dozen made the first cut.
As they awaited the robot parts sent by Mr. Kamen, they set up a workshop in the basement of Ms. Mahboob’s parents’ home in Herat, watching YouTube how-to videos and tinkering with scrap metal that their coach, Ms. Mahboob’s brother, Alireza Mehraban, picked up in the market.
They hammered nails with rocks, twisted chains by slamming doors on them, and searched for kitchen knives sharp enough to make slits in aluminum. They worked barefoot, as is customary inside Afghan homes, and without any safety equipment.
“When you have Taliban outside, goggles aren’t your biggest security problem,” one of the girls joked.
They came from different schools, neighborhoods and ethnic groups, but most were born in 2001, the year United States troops began what the military called “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
When the team returned to Herat after that first competition, Fatemah’s father, Mohammad Asif Qaderyan, planted a congratulatory kiss on her cheek in front of the TV cameras at the airport — a public display of affection not looked kindly upon by all.
He had been the team’s biggest booster, helping persuade other fathers to let their daughters travel. A building contractor with a ninth-grade education, Mr. Qaderyan was an avid supporter of girls’ schools, of robotics and, above all, of Fatemah.
They had a special closeness, staying up late to watch science documentaries on DVDs. “We would talk about complicated stuff, and I could ask him any question,” she said. “Sometimes he would be surprised by my questions, but he always tried to answer.”
Exactly one week after the team came home from Washington, Fatemah waved to her father as he shut the gate of their home and headed to the mosque. When the blast hit a bit later, her mother ran into the street, panicked. Fatemah kept dialing his cellphone.
The Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, whose official death toll was 36, though neighbors counted more.
“All our neighbors thought I was the cause of his death,” she said. “They said if I had not been on the robotics team, it would not have happened.”
In early 2018, the girls were invited to train with a robotics team in Canada, and ended up qualifying for a 700-team competition in Detroit. They arrived late one evening at a suburban hotel, where the bar was filled with men and women drinking, laughing and eating chicken wings.
Somaya Faruqi, the team’s mechanical whiz, cocked her head toward the bar, her eyes widening.
“In Afghanistan we laugh differently,” she said.
Yes, like, not loudly, the others explained. And no teeth showing.
“At home,” Kawsar said, “they stone women to death for adultery — or even if they just suspect it.” Then she added: “But the truth is, I like to smile.”
Sometimes, when no one was around, the girls would crack each other up with a routine.
“You are so awesome,” one teammate, Sahar Barak, would say in her best American accent, mimicking the people who kept telling them as much.
Kawsar, batting long dark lashes, would join in: “You guys are really inspiring!”
Lida might make a little heart shape with her fingers: “Yes, yes, you have touched our hearts!”
Without fail, this would reduce the girls to a heap of giggles, hands flying to cover mouths and hold onto slipping head scarves, eyes darting to make sure Coach Ali wasn’t watching.
“When we go home, we will change our behavior,” Fatemah said. “We will know how to hide our smiles when we need to.”
A trip to Canada that was supposed to last a few weeks turned into months on the road, and the girls began to worry about missing too much school. They liked the freedom to ride bikes in New York — “At home, if you are a boy you can go bike riding, but not us,” Kawsar said — and loved using the swings in Central Park. They also appreciated the flip-flop selection at Kmart. But their suitcases were getting heavy and they missed their mothers.
They slept on beanbags at Ms. Mahboob’s apartment in Queens, N.Y., for a few weeks between competitions, taking turns cleaning, cooking, and painting each others’ nails with glitter polish.
“I’m so happy for Ed Sheeran that he is getting married,” Lida said one day. She was a big fan of Ed Sheeran, as well as of Lionel Messi. And she loved everything having to do with World Wrestling Entertainment, including Mr. Trump.
“He might be a W.W.E. fan, but he doesn’t like Muslims like you,” Sahar told Lida.
“Is it true Trump supports ISIS?” Kawsar asked.
They discussed their collective crush on Prime Minister Trudeau, whom they called “Justin.” They wondered who — “besides us” — might be the most famous Afghans outside of Afghanistan, and dissected another famous young Muslim woman who promoted girls’ education: Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is Pakistani.
“She repeats the same lines to everyone!” Fatemah argued.
Then they wondered aloud: “Do we do that?”
They had recently learned the word “weird,” and were pleased with its ability to encompass feelings about the unfamiliar.
People kissing in the streets in America, for example, was weird. Billboards with women half-undressed? Weird. Or strangers talking to you in the street: “You don’t know them, and suddenly they are saying something,” Fatemah said.
Once, riding the subway from Queens to Manhattan, a stranger called Lida a “cookie” and asked to touch her head scarf. Another time, somebody leaned over and said: “People get blown up right on the street in your country. What do you think about that?”
But the worst was on an overnight Greyhound bus from Detroit to New York. They had showed up in high spirits, with matching blue eye shadow and mascara they had been trying on in a Sephora that afternoon.
Then, on the bus, one man was watching porn on his phone. When they asked another to change seats, he cursed and pushed them. “You are rude!” Sahar retorted in her best English before bursting into tears.
They missed the way time moved slowly in Herat, where aunts and uncles were constantly visiting, and dinners were long, and always homemade.
“There is no greater pleasure in life,” Somaya said, “than a family picnic at the park, at home.”
“No one would ever push you there,” Kawsar added.
After one competition in Albuquerque, N.M., the girls stopped for ice cream at an outdoor mall, where, after long discussions on the merits of each flavor, they all ordered pistachio.
They discussed the robotics team from Burundi, whose members had disappeared after the competition in Washington and then resurfaced a few weeks later, requesting asylum.
“It’s annoying that Americans think everyone wants to sneak into their country,” said Fatemah. “I don’t.”
“When I grow up, I’m going to start a robotics company with Somaya,” she said. It would be a fleet of robots to monitor security issues. Or maybe agricultural robots to help farmers collect saffron.
That is, if she doesn’t become president of Afghanistan, which is her real dream. Somaya could be her chief of staff, Fatemah said. The others could help with her campaign.
Sahar rolled her eyes.
“Yes, it would be nice to live, for a while, in a country where girls are allowed to ride bikes and swim and where there are Baskin-Robbins everywhere,” said Kawsar.
And it would be “awesome” to study overseas, they agreed.
“Not us,” they said.
The girls had been traveling for 30 hours, changed planes five times and gone through 13-and-a-half time zones. It was the first day of Ramadan when they touched down in Herat last May, and they would soon be fasting. As they prepared to exit the plane, they put on their medals and dialed down their smiles.
Awaiting them on the tarmac were TV cameras, a government minister with bouquets of plastic roses, and families relieved to have their daughters safely home.
The only mother missing was Fatemah’s. Someone made an excuse, saying she was sick. “Not exactly sick,” she said later. “I am sick in my heart.” It had been less than 10 months since the mosque attack that killed her husband.
With their U.S. visas having run out, the team’s activities have quieted. Fatemah, Somaya and Lida went to a robotics competition in Estonia in November and, with three new girls, to one in Istanbul in February.
Fatemah and Ms. Mahboob met with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, about a plan to start a robotics club in Kabul, as well as a technology-focused school, which the Yale Engineering Department has offered to design. He offered support, but there is as yet no budget.
At a school assembly, Lida and Kawsar spoke to hundreds of girls in matching black tunics and white head scarves about how the team had won the all-rookie award at a championship in Canada and how they each came home with six medals and how, above all, they were proud to serve their country.
One girl asked if they had seen the Statue of Liberty. Yes, they had. And they had met Justin Trudeau! It was unclear how many in the audience knew who that was.
Afterward, one girl said: “I could do robotics, too.”
“If I just knew what it was,” she added. “And if my dad allowed.”
Danna Harman is a London-based journalist who has reported from across Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.B:
【一】【月】【后】。 “【人】【送】【走】【了】？” 【暗】【黑】【的】【屋】【内】【点】【燃】【了】【灯】【火】，【一】【小】【尖】【火】【苗】【在】【摇】【曳】【着】，【屋】【内】【很】【安】【静】，【只】【有】【容】【雁】【的】【声】【音】【轻】【轻】【压】【过】。 【季】【萱】【坐】【在】【一】【旁】，【看】【着】【她】【手】【里】【描】【绘】【的】【字】，【从】【鼻】【尖】【发】【出】【闷】【闷】【地】【嗯】【声】，【情】【绪】【并】【不】【高】【涨】。 “【这】【次】【和】【平】【协】【定】【一】【签】，【终】【究】【太】【平】【了】，”【容】【雁】【停】【下】【笔】，【看】【向】【她】，“【那】【你】【呢】？” 【季】【萱】【茫】【然】【地】【看】【她】。
“【丽】【萨】，【你】【立】【刻】【帮】【我】【调】【查】，【龙】【翼】【泽】【的】【背】【景】。” 【不】【知】【道】【为】【什】【么】，【想】【到】【那】【个】【男】【人】，【叶】【婉】【君】【心】【中】【竟】【是】【有】【一】【丝】【恐】【慌】。 【那】【个】【男】【人】【太】【神】【秘】【了】，【虽】【然】【她】【知】【道】，【龙】【翼】【泽】【是】【林】【妍】【音】【的】【丈】【夫】，【但】【是】，【直】【觉】【告】【诉】【她】，【不】【会】【这】【么】【简】【单】，【龙】【翼】【泽】【不】【会】【单】【单】【只】【是】【林】【妍】【音】【的】【丈】【夫】，【只】【是】【一】【个】【影】【帝】，【他】【的】【背】【后】【一】【定】【有】【她】【不】【知】【道】【的】【人】【脉】。 【而】【现】【在】，白姐六合宝典【一】【回】【到】【江】【北】【市】，【易】【墨】【琛】【便】【联】【系】【了】【助】【理】【将】【两】【个】【孩】【子】【带】【回】【了】【水】【月】【湾】。 【而】【他】【则】【陪】【着】【锦】【瑟】【赶】【往】B【市】【人】【民】【医】【院】。 【夫】【妻】【俩】【来】【的】【时】【候】，【云】【守】【城】【已】【经】【转】【到】【了】【普】【通】【病】【房】，【而】【云】【母】【魏】【丹】【青】【则】【坐】【在】【病】【床】【前】，【陪】【着】【他】。 【一】【看】【到】【女】【儿】【女】【婿】【到】【来】，【魏】【丹】【青】【赶】【紧】【起】【身】【迎】【去】。 【锦】【瑟】【赶】【紧】【跑】【上】【前】，【将】【魏】【丹】【青】【扶】【着】【坐】【下】。 “【爸】【爸】，【您】【好】【些】【了】
【那】【两】【个】【暗】【黑】【生】【灵】，【也】【是】【双】【目】【冒】【光】，【大】【叫】【一】【声】，【再】【也】【不】【理】【会】【唐】【风】【等】【人】，【对】【着】【帝】【芽】【冲】【去】。 【可】【是】，【千】【山】【帝】【芽】【不】【单】【事】【关】【千】【家】【生】【死】，【更】【是】【事】【关】【今】【日】【所】【有】【人】【之】【生】【死】！ 【若】【让】【这】【两】【个】【暗】【黑】【生】【灵】【靠】【近】【千】【山】【帝】【芽】，【凭】【借】【他】【们】【更】【高】【于】【地】【球】【一】【个】【等】【级】【的】【手】【段】，【怕】【是】【今】【日】【在】【场】【所】【有】【人】【都】【要】【危】【险】【了】。 【所】【以】，【唐】【风】【等】【人】，【如】【何】【也】【不】【能】【让】【他】【们】【如】
【灵】【犀】【闻】【声】【朝】【门】【口】【看】【去】，【笑】【着】【相】【迎】：“【许】【公】【子】。” 【许】【棠】【之】【礼】【貌】【性】【的】【一】【笑】，【而】【后】【一】【眼】【便】【看】【到】【了】【床】【上】【已】【经】【醒】【过】【来】【的】【谢】【瓷】：“【星】【儿】！” 【灵】【犀】【笑】【着】【接】【过】【许】【棠】【之】【手】【中】【的】【衣】【服】：“【星】【儿】【已】【经】【醒】【来】【好】【一】【阵】【儿】【了】【呢】。” “【是】【吗】？”【许】【棠】【之】【走】【过】【去】【在】【她】【床】【边】【坐】【了】【下】【来】，“【星】【儿】，【有】【没】【有】【哪】【里】【不】【舒】【服】？” “【没】【有】。”【谢】【瓷】【摇】【了】【摇】
【第】【二】【天】【天】【刚】【亮】，【老】【妪】【的】【那】【只】【酸】【与】【大】【鸟】【撕】【拉】【刺】【耳】【的】【叫】【声】【把】【所】【有】【人】【都】【吵】【醒】【了】。 【大】【鸟】【叫】【起】【来】【没】【完】【没】【了】，【堡】【内】【到】【处】【都】【是】【咒】【骂】【声】。 【众】【人】【见】【睡】【回】【笼】【觉】【已】【是】【不】【可】【能】，【只】【得】【穿】【衣】【洗】【漱】，【下】【去】【吃】【饭】【了】。 【除】【了】【歌】【伎】【雪】【梅】【和】【那】【个】【小】【孩】，【所】【有】【人】【都】【在】【大】【厅】【里】【了】。 【小】【二】【搬】【出】【了】【熬】【粥】【的】【大】【釜】，【一】【碗】【一】【碗】【盛】【着】，【放】【在】【银】【台】【上】。 【壮】【子】【和】