Volunteer Spotlight: Zartaj Waseem

Zartaj Waseem served as a fundamental part of the Global STEM Corps (GSC) Advisory Team to Team Tanzania during the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge (FGC2017) season and was also one of the many members of the judging panel during the competition. Her vast experience with other FIRST programs and her understanding of STEM education were invaluable in helping out many individuals in the FIRST Global community, including our very own FIRST Global staff! So we’d like to dedicate this space to her and give her the opportunity to tell us about her experience volunteering for the organization and how rewarding this entire journey has been for her.

“Working with the youth and seeing them get excited and feel fulfilled about their achievements is what motivates me to volunteer. There’s a lot to learn from these young people. In my 6 years of experience with FLL (FIRST Lego League) and this most recent experience with FIRST Global, I have met some amazing people (teams, mentors, volunteers) from around the world who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

The opportunity to volunteer made me feel a part of one single global community, beyond politics and any other differences. It is truly a blissful experience to help people and feeling great about it — FIRST events offer us that opportunity. I have already registered my interest for FGC2018 as the experience was truly phenomenal and unforgettable. I can’t wait to be in Mexico City for FGC2018.

In FGC2017 I was a Global STEM Corps Advisor for Team Tanzania, virtually mentoring the team and then I signed up to be an International Award Judge. The Judging Process was very professionally dealt with and there was a lot to learn from our Judge Advisor Andy Marshall. I learned a lot from my fellow judges and we all made a great team. Meeting Dean Kamen face to face was above everything. He has inspired me and given me all the wonderful reasons not only to be associated with FIRST but also inspired me to work in a similar manner in my own country (Pakistan).

I believe competitions like FIRST Global are very important to bring the whole community together. Such events and programs show the world that if we rise above our differences, we discover that we have a lot more in common so we should work towards fighting against the problems that we face together. This to me is the key message conveyed by FIRST events. It makes our future generations realize that with perseverance and teamwork anything can be achieved.

I religiously practice the FIRST Core Values and apply it in everyday life and in my community. Such programs do not only offer opportunities to develop our knowledge base and technological experience but also fosters life-long skills that our youth must possess to become an assertive and adept citizen.”