My name is Ricardo Delfin (pictured second from the left). I've been a volunteer with FIRST for the past four years, and a team member in FIRST® Robotics Competition for the three years before that and I have to say they've been some of the most rewarding experiences I've had the privilege to participate in. The events are always energetic and full of truly passionate people, both in the teams and in the volunteer corps!
I initially joined FIRST as a volunteer thanks to one of my friends (also pictured, second from the right). He mentioned that FIRST Mexico was looking for volunteers for the FIRST Robotics Competition regional in Mexico City. I had been out of high school for a year by then and had really enjoyed participating in FIRST. The events had a unique and energetic vibe and I had gotten to meet a lot of wonderful people. Not only that, but I wanted to give back to this community that had given me so much. Thanks to FIRST, I got into my university of choice, and I even had recently gone through an internship interview at Microsoft where I discussed a problem I solved while I was on the team.
I signed up, was assigned as a referee, and quickly realized how wonderful and different it was to participate in FIRST as a volunteer. When you go with a team, it seems like the events move almost by themselves, like a well-oiled machine. It's not until you get behind the scenes as a volunteer that you realize the work required to get an event this big working properly. Most volunteers are here because they love robotics and love everything FIRST does. You can really see that everyone embodies the values of FIRST, and everyone wants to see all the teams succeed.
One of the most wonderful parts of this, however, is seeing the teams go up and compete against each other. The amount of raw talent you see at this event, all high school students, is truly mind-boggling. Not only that but seeing all the teams work together and try to help each other succeed is one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen.
I've since gone on to volunteer at multiple other events in Mexico and in Texas, both as a referee and robot inspector. I even volunteered as head referee at the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge in Mexico City. I've enjoyed every minute of this amazing experience. In summary, if someone were to ask me if it would be worth volunteering for a FIRST event, I'd tell them this. When traveling to one event, I had to take three connecting flights, for a total of 18 hours in flight, not including layovers and the return trip. I arrived at the event jetlagged and tired. Even after going through all that, I have never felt as energetic as I have during that event, and I can say, decidedly, that this was an experience worth going through.
Ricardo was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and grew up in Mexico City, Mexico. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland, and works for Facebook.