This is the interview of Jaanya Callychurn, one of the five students who formed part of Team Mauritius in FIRST Global 2023, Singapore.
Tell us about your trip experience!
“From the beginning to the end of my stay, it was an exciting and social experience. I have met many different people and made new friends along the way. In times of need, they assisted us, and we returned the favour. I have had the most fun possible by forging relationships with people and bolstering those among my teammates.
I have learned a lot from this trip. My independence and lack of parental guidance have increased my sense of responsibility and awareness of my obligations to other people. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to take part in the FIRST Global Challenge (FGC).”
What are you grateful for during the FGC 2023 journey?
“I am grateful for many things, but most of all for the friendships and connections I have established in such a short time. I have made some fantastic friends who have taught me more about robotics and shared insights about their home countries. To remember these moments, we exchanged badges and phone numbers as mementoes. It is fascinating to see such a diverse group of people in one place, and I have tried to understand, or at least learn about, their customs and cultures.
By socialising and exploring the robotics pits, I have tried to help other teams, which has honed my problem-solving and communication skills. Today, I am confident in learning new things and adapting to different environments, especially in robotics. Exposure to worldwide creative ideas inspired me to strive for excellence in this field. One of the other reasons I was thrilled was the opportunity to visit Singapore. Besides enjoying the competition’s events, I had the chance to travel to a foreign country and immerse myself in an entirely new culture.”
What was your role and duties in Team Mauritius?
“As a team member, I had the opportunity to engage in programming and assembly work. However, most of my efforts were dedicated to building the robot rather than programming. When it came to programming, my tasks were relatively minor, such as assisting the team programmer in setting up the Driver Hub or ensuring the gamepads were working correctly. The assembly work, although quite hectic, turned out to be enjoyable. Working under pressure made me realise how careless I had been in the beginning and how much time I wasted.
Initially, I did not have a strong liking for building things, but with time, I grew used to it, and now I find it enjoyable as a hobby. I take great pleasure in my work and approach it with patience. The aspect I have enjoyed the most is contributing to the creation of the basket. Precisely measuring the lengths of various cardboard parts, cutting, and glueing them together brought me joy. Seeing the final product take the desired shape was satisfying and filled me with expectations for what was to come.”
What qualities have your team members admired about you?
“It was my determination to see the robot project through to completion. However, everyone in the team was equally, if not more, committed to finishing the robot. There were nights when I lay awake, considering ways to support the team better, although my contributions felt limited. Despite the challenges, my perseverance kept me going, even when I could provide only minimal assistance.
Giving up would have made my efforts appear futile, leaving me unsatisfied. I was resolute in not letting my teammates down and using all available resources to offer moral encouragement and support their perspectives, hoping to contribute positively to their progress. While I am still determining if my efforts benefited them, I like to believe that I was able to meet some of their needs.”
What could you do to bring more value to Team Mauritius and get a better result?
“I should have spent more time on robotics and talked about my problems and comprehension of the subject. This way, I might have become more adept at quickly addressing and resolving the difficulties. It should have been evident that, instead of engaging in leisurely activities, I should have collaborated and committed to my responsibilities.
We missed an opportunity to achieve a breakthrough sooner because I avoided discussions or delayed sharing my perspectives. I aim to become a better motivator than I have been, approach my teammates’ ideas with an open mind, anticipate issues proactively, and support them in their efforts.”
Back to Mauritius, how do you intend to promote STEM Education among young people?
“Upon my return to Mauritius, I will continue to promote STEM education by implementing several strategies to educate the uninformed and broaden the horizons of the knowledgeable. First and foremost, I will start by imparting the fundamentals to my neighbours through discussions within our community. I will share information about the tournament with others to raise awareness. Secondly, organising school talks and seminars can help students of all ages grasp the essential concepts of STEM education. I will also engage with teachers to provide support.
Thirdly, utilising the simplicity of social media tags, I will seek out groups related to STEM education. Establishing communities and clubs in social centres or schools can benefit the local population and students, facilitating activities that inspire people to explore STEM beyond the classroom. One of the most effective ways to promote STEM education is to include STEM topics in parental discussions and host monthly seminars for parents. Lastly, I will encourage parents to invest in toys and interactive games that promote STEM subjects, offering young children early exposure to STEM concepts.”
Do you have any suggestions for YUVA that the latter can consider while preparing for next year’s FIRST Global event?
“The minimum I can do is offer my support to YUVA. My time at YUVA has been enjoyable, particularly the opportunity to build new friendships. I aim to inspire upcoming students with tremendous enthusiasm by sharing my experiences and stories. My greatest joy would come from aiding YUVA in any way possible, and I am committed to doing just that. I will provide career guidance and academic contributions as I have read and listened to speeches on these topics. I want to mentor those still unaware of the outside world and help them avoid making the same mistakes I did.
My goal is to assist them in developing a more profound interest in robotics and motivate them to participate in extracurricular activities that enhance their skills. I also want to discuss how I have coped with stress and challenges by maintaining a positive perspective. While I haven’t always succeeded, I have learned valuable lessons.”