Volunteer Spotlight: Heidi Lovett

“I have always loved people from other cultures and nations so it was an easy jump to FIRST Global. When I heard about the program, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it in whatever way I could. It was 2006 when it all began for me. I have not looked back. I have since been a mentor in the whole family of FIRST programs (FLL Jr., FLL, FTC, FRC, and FGC). I have also volunteered at local, regional and even international events like FGC2017.

I am motivated to volunteer because I have seen the power of FIRST in my life, the life of my children and even my mother’s life and I want to make sure that other young people are given the same opportunity that we had, so I volunteer.  I started my FIRST volunteer experience with coaching my son’s FIRST LEGO League team in 2006. Some of the students on my team had huge transformations from being afraid to talk to other people, to presenting to the City Council, within one season — and I knew that I wanted to be a part of FIRST in the future. The ethics of FIRST are also a huge motivation for me. Seeing young people (and older people) come together from different backgrounds, cultures, socio-economic groups etc, to play a game while demonstrating Gracious Professionalism gives me hope for the future. I am always impressed by the students, teams, coaches and volunteers and their willingness to help others.

I was eager to meet the teams that I had mentored from long distance in person.  It turned out to be an amazing experience for me. I don’t know that I have worked so hard in such a short period of time, but it was totally worth it! I made new friends, reconnected with old friends and had a wonderful opportunity to see the young people on all the teams “discover” the world outside their home countries. It was amazing to watch the teams making friends with each other across the globe as well. I am honored to have been able to participate in the event and hope to do so again in the future.

I believe that competitions like FIRST Global are critically important to the future of our world because the students and coaches that participate are taken out of their culture and put together in a welcoming and friendly group that is working together for a shared goal. The students discover that they are a part of something bigger than themselves or their own country’s challenges which leads them to a broader view of the world. They are also able to see that they are not all that different from other people from around the world. In so doing, they are getting a different perspective on their own situation and culture. In addition, as they grow to adulthood and become leaders in their countries, they will be able to remember the other students that they met (and perhaps even work with them again), and hopefully know that there are many ways to look at a problem (be it technical or political). The coaches also learn that the issues that they face in their home country are not necessarily completely unique. There are others out there who are also facing similar challenges and they can work together to support and learn from each other – their world also gets bigger than their national borders. FIRST Global lays the foundation for a more peaceful future.

In addition to the impact on the individual students, it provides developing nations opportunity to learn more about the technology that we in the USA take for granted. The students build something that only a few people in the world have ever built, much less seen — a robot. The program also can elevate the teams to celebrity status within their own countries as they represent their home nation to the world. The potential for good is impressive and we should all support it.”