First Global Burundi Team goes missing

The entire team seems to have walked out of the event during finals. Interested to see what is going on. Sounds like their home country is not the most pleasant place.

They’ll probably turn up OK.
But a one year visa… that would be tempting.

If it is as bad as some of the reports I would have told my kids to go for it. I also must note that they waited until after alliance selections to go in true robotics kid fashion. :slight_smile:

My guess is they planned this… the one year visa thing stuck out to me too. Why such a long visa for a few day competition. Maybe that is normal though who knows.

I hate to be the person to mention kidnapping, but I’ve heard from my friend who lives in DC that there’s a big scare at the moment. Praying that they will turn up alright and soon.

It’s also a shame that there’s so much press coverage of this event, but all of it is negative. I’ve already seen at least four different news sources with stories about the missing team. Between that and the denied visas, it might seem to an outside observer that this event was a mess when in fact it seemed to go very smoothly. I hope FIRST can somehow manage to get the news to cover what actually happened at the competition, and not just the bad events surrounding it.

A couple news reporters mention on Twitter that two were seen going into Canada, and the other four are with family in the US.

Can you cite some sources for this? Seems like rumor-mill to me.

These students could have been lured away. This could be foul play. I hope they find them.

Does anyone seriously think this was an accident? Must be a coincidence that the team that went “missing” is from a country where there is serious unrest.

I can’t speak for the specifics of US Visas, but having applied for multi visa for other countries… They are almost always for some standard time frame rather than a specific trip. Some are single entry. Others allow multiple entry. One question that is asked in one form or another is what assurance do have that you will not overstay your visa.

Such is the state of the modern media.

I hope the members of this team are safe now and will remain as such, even if that means staying “missing” in order to not go back to their unrest-torn home country.

Although this current situation with Team Burundi is a definite low, a lot of the press coverage has been pretty positive, with some “feel good” stories and great positive exposure for FIRST Global. Even the denied visa story made a positive turn and got some great coverage by media, as well as positive attention from the White House.

TBH, the details of the robotics event are dwarfed by the significance of what FIRST Global represents, and that is OK. I’m very impressed with the overwhelming international reception to this initiative.

And for what it’s worth, it seems like many of the kids on these international teams are having an amazing experience. Students from Argentia, Tunisia and elsewhere have been posting a ton about their experience via Facebook. Great work FIRST Global!


Actually the press turned out really good for the Afghan via issue. It was not news article against First it was the opposite. “Look at this great program that these kids are having problems going to.” Heck it even gave Trump some good press for a change. Even CNN gave him credit. And it got the First Daughter to attend the competition further enhancing the reputation of the event.

This news article however… this one is not so good. Not horrible for First, but for countries with a high… lets call it “Flight Risk”.

Now onto good news. Washington Post is reporting that 2 of them are indeed in Canada and the other 4 are safe possibly with their uncle that was mentioned as not being available for comment.

The press coverage isn’t necessarily negative towards FIRST, for example the visa’s articles reflected poorly on the state department, not on FIRST.

It’s frustrating how news organizations keep claiming that FIRST Global is FIRST’s first international event.

I’m not sure I would call it a low. A little deduction suggests several reasons these students might have gone missing. This may be the high point of their lives - leaving an oppressed country. I would hardly be shocked if they requested asylum.

Well - it really is a global event. FIRST Robotics itself is gaining countries, but it’s focus is the competition. FIRST Global is specifically a global competition - it’s more about getting teams from every country than it is about the competition itself.

When considered along the lines of professional sports, it would be their first international competition. For instance, many sports leagues span across national borders (the NHL, NBA, and MLB all include teams in both the US and Canada), but each team is a local team. An international event in those sports is when teams are composed and play for entire countries (such as the Olympics or World Cup). The same with FIRST Global. Rather than these teams representing their high school or 4H club or local community, they were representing their country.

I’m not fortune teller, but I have a hunch the actions of this group of students from Burundi have made it much harder for future students from Burundi to get visas approved for a FIRST Global event in the USA. Maybe that’s not how the process works, but I’m just guessing. That’s why I would characterize it as a low.

Just my opinion though.


Hence why the Afghan team was denied a VISA, because it’s common for Afghans to overstay their VISAs (I’m sure other countries have the same risk, though Burundi’s risk factors may have increased?). I just hope the best for the Burundi students and their futures wherever their fates/fortunes lead them.