There are many types of friends in the present day and throughout the history of the world. There are friends of a moment. Friends who exist at a certain time and place, but after that scenario has passed, they sort of fade away; a few years after you lose contact with them…you can’t seem to recall what they looked like, the details are fuzzy, your feelings about them – uncertain. These are the sort of friends you might make in your branch of the army, not the ones who saved your life, nor the ones who you risked your life with…nor for, but the ones that you had minimal contact with…enough to call them “friend” and not “acquaintance” but not sufficient enough to make them “brother” or “sister.” The other major category of friends is that of lifelong friendships. Friends, who you spend close to your every waking moment either with or in conversation with, be it through the internet or over the telephone. The type of friend who, when you moved away, you may have lost contact with them…and then regretted that decision every minute of every day.

As the start of build season approaches and looms overhead, I have, for some reason or another, been reevaluating my friendships; my relationships. The ones that I formed during my four years in high school can be separated mostly into three groups: friends from Staten Island Technical High School, friends from the Israeli Scouts youth movement, and last, but certainly not least, friends formed through my involvement in the FIRST robotics program, both the FIRST LEGO League, and the FIRST Robotics Competition.

Regrettably, or not so much depending on how you approach it, my friendships from Staten Island Tech are not too numerous. In fact, there are not too many people from that high school that I miss: my closest friend from Tech is my roommate in college; it’s not too hard to keep in touch with him. While some might look at the minute amounts of friendships gleaned throughout the years in that high school and think it unfortunate, in my opinion it is actually a blessing in disguise.

I have been involved with the Israeli Scouts since tenth grade, traveling forty minutes each way on every Sunday to be with my friends. It seems like my friends from those three years of involvement can be divided into two groups, those still in high school, and those in the Israeli Defense Forces. Either way, it has been a challenge to keep in touch, and regrettably I have lost contact with a majority of them. Despite this decrease in contact, when I visited the group a few weeks ago, it felt like I had never left, with me blending into the group and seamlessly working, playing, and fooling around just like we did so many times before.

The closest and strongest friendships that I have formed, however, have come from the FIRST robotics program. Friends that I can call “brother,” that I can call “sister,” that I can just call “family.” As build season looms ahead I am reevaluating my friendships and I am realizing that my real friends, those that are not purely acquaintances, in this institution called “The Cooper Union” number few and far between. It is hard to find common ground, when all of them regard robotics as something “weird” despite this being an engineering school; it is hard when they all regard me as some sort of “alien” because I am actually interested in engineering, and not just in the full scholarship awarded to each and every student; it is hard when I realize that a lot of my “friends” just want help with their programming assignments so that they can go party later that night. But I’ve come to realize that this whole lack of real friendships at my specific university does not really matter. It does not have any significance because throughout my four years at high school, regardless of the lack of friends from that specific school, I have formed many close relationships that have hardened like cement and are now close to inseparable, untouchable by outside influences. These are lifelong friendships that I will hold dear and cherish forever.

I have only been a part of this community, for four years, and a part of this family of close-knit friends for closer to three. And yet…when I find myself thinking of the future, and I reach an alternate reality where I no longer have a part in FIRST; where I no longer can keep in contact with my FIRST friends, my extended family: I find myself lamenting the loss even before it happens; I find myself contemplating how disoriented I would be without this community, how helpless I would be without this family, and how depressing life would be without this program and everything gleaned from it.

Friends of the moment and friends of a lifetime: each have their own specific place where they can contribute to your life and quietly mold you. Both are good and fine, but friends of a lifetime are something special, and those, you should fight for no matter the cost or sacrifice. For close friends are like balloons, once you let go, they never come back. I plan on tying these friends, these brothers and sisters, to my heart so that they cannot get away; so that if I, at one point decide to try and let them go, they’ll stop me and remind me of what I’d be sacrificing; of what I’d lose; and of how empty my life would be.


sheds a tear This is beautiful. :slight_smile: That is exactly how I feel in regards to my FIRST family, and I’m sure most of the FIRST community feels the same way. We’re glad to be your lifetime friends!

Please have this converted into a whitepaper.

I know that through FIRST I have met people all over the country. I’m actually going to visit my first FIRST friend who’s at college this weekend and when I told her, she was so excited that she couldn’t really put it into words.

It’s a funny thing, FIRST. This is my third year in FRC, and when people ask me to describe it, I can’t. I just can never find the right words to describe the feeling of belonging. People I’ve never met treated me like their best friend. People at my school just can’t understand what that feeling is. I mean, I’ve lived it and I can’t describe it.

My best friend is on our FIRST team and although we’ve gone through some hard times (stressing because the robot wasn’t going to get finished!!) we’ve come MUCH closer; we never thought it was possible as we’ve been best friends since pre-K, but FIRST is crazy like that. It strenghens bonds and forms bonds where there weren’t any.

Your story inspires me to go and meet more people involved in FIRST. If 1525 goes to Championships, my goal is going to be to make the largest list possible of people that were there. I want to meet someone from every team, and then keep in contact. That’s my goal, so what’s yours?


That was possibly one of the most profound things I have ever read. An absolutely exquisite piece of writing. I do not feel like I can say anything more- that would be doing your work a disservice.

wonderful absolutely wonderful, dan!!

I can say the same with FIRST I love this community, or should I say family. One thing that brings us together is the love of FIRST, a high energy fun loving program that teaches us values and much more through our mentors. I just finished writing an essay about my passion, and figuring this will be my 4th year i wrote about FIRST. It was not an easy topic to write about only because its hard to describe, though I love it so much.

I love it dan, it made me appriciate my friends more, and make me want to go talk to the ones I havent in a while!!

That almost brought tears to my eyes. We are still a relatively small team that did not meet too much last year. the couple of members we carried onto this year we are not too closely knit. I brought a couple of my friends into it this year and we really are more prepared. I hope their (and my) FIRST experience is as great as yours. I have friends all over the country from first and although I have never met or talked to them besides chatrooms and IM, I feel like I can confide almost anything to them.
I was a socially awkward freshman last year and now I am very content with my friends and I absolutely love FIRST.

You know you are addicted to FIRST when you have trouble describing it because you realize it truly is way more than just a robotics competetion.

thank you for making my day, vivek

My heart melts. Can we spotlight the whole thing? That special FIRST feeling is just plain indescribable. I agree, this is true addiction to FIRST, when you realize these kinds of things. Congratulations for being able to put it into words!

I understand every single word you’ve said Don, because that is the same way I feel about my friends in FIRST.

It really is that thing that we, in FIRST, have those common things from FIRST that we like to talk about with our FIRST friends and those other additional things we find in common with our FIRST friends makes our relations even closer. We learn a way to communicate with our FIRST friends and sometimes are disappointed when (they realize) they can’t do the exact same with their other friends (be it for better or worse).

FIRST really is one of the best communities I’ve ever been and you’ve expressed trully well one of those reasons why I think it is the best I’ve ever had.

Thank you Don.:slight_smile:


Thats not very appropriate for this forum.

I don’t keep up on internet acronyms, and I’m not exactly sure of what all the letters mean, but I sure as heck know what one of them are. Whatever it is, I’m assuming you shouldn’t have said that, and you know it.

[Edit: Just found out what it means. That’s very inappropiate, especially for this thread. Please think before you post!]

My FIRST family and friends were very important to me during high school and my early years of college. My national network of friends opened my eyes to new ideas and possibilities, that the world is small (my actions may have impacts that I’m not aware of), and that appreciating friendships is one of the most important things in life. I eagerly awaited every FIRST event hoping to justify my place in the world by being around the only people who I seemed to belong with at the time. I learned a lot during the time of my college years and mistakes were made. Over the years I have lost touch with old FIRST friends, I may have let some of them down, or I may have just grown up and out of what we initially had in common. Now, I keep my friends closer to home, but I do hope that when I see old FIRST friends that a warm ‘Hello’ is exchanged and there is curiosity about how we may have grown up and changed. With FIRST being my roots, we do still all have a lot in common, and I’ll always think fondly about how the friends I met in FIRST had a significant impact on my direction in life.