Exit Interview – Mario Chitwood

As the 2016 Donna Coffee Youth Scholarship blogs comes to an end, we thought we’d find out what the experience has been like for our recipients so we asked Chris & Mario to share their thoughts in this fun CTEBVI “exit interview”!

Watch Mario Chitwood’s fun Exit Interview video as he reflects on his time as the 2016 co-DCYS recipient! #CTEBVI17

 

 

Going Home Soon

Pictured: Mario Chitwood swimming -- Photo courtesy of Mario Chitwood

Pictured: Mario Chitwood swimming — Photo courtesy of Mario Chitwood

Hey blog readers,

I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start. I have mixed feeling about mine. As you know, I’ve been in Mexico for almost three months! I will be returning home in 2-3 weeks and I’m really excited to get back to California. I am actually ready to start school again even though I know I will have a lot of make up work to do. I am also looking forward to hanging out with all my cousins and finally getting to hold my baby brother Max. I talk to him on the phone but he’s only 2 years old so he mostly just likes to push the buttons. I think he knows that sound irritates me.

Although I am excited to return home, there are some things I will miss about Mexico. I will miss being able to ride in the back of my aunt’s truck. I will definitely miss the amazing fireworks. And I will also miss the many cousins I spent time with here.
I hope in the future they will visit me in California so my mom and I can be their tour guides.

Recently, we went to a public swim center. It was super crowded so I didn’t enjoy it too much. The water was warm though. One pool was actually super hot natural spring water. I only got in up to my knees and stayed in for a couple of minutes. It was good that we got to experience those thermal waters because a lot of locals say they are therapeutic but I don’t really want to go back because the crowd was overwhelming.
One new thing I’ve been doing a lot of is watching cooking tutorials on YouTube. My mom and I have watch a lot of new recipes that we can’t wait to try once we get home.
It will be a great excuse to visit our local spice shop. I like going there because you can taste all the spices before you buy them.

Another new place we recently checked out was the local sports center here in Mexico. There is a huge soccer field, lots of basketball courts, and a track. My great aunt, mom, and I walked about a mile and a half but then my mom wanted to go check out the Zumba class they were offering. Overall, it was a good place to visit and we are planning on going back soon.

Thanks for reading my blog. Hope all is well with Christopher. Until next time.

Peace,
Mario

Making Memories in Mexico 

Pictured: Mario Chitwood and his great-grandmother, Alicia -- Photo courtesy of: Mario Chitwood

Pictured: Mario Chitwood and his great-grandmother, Alicia — Photo courtesy of: Mario Chitwood

Hello friends,

I am still visiting family in Mexico. It is so different here. I have met so many new family members. I have a lot of cousins my age so it’s been fun trying to teach them English. I also met my great grandmother. She loves me and thinks I’m handsome.
On December 11, 2016 I got baptized. Even though the whole ceremony was in Spanish, I still enjoyed the whole event. Afterwards we had a small celebration in my honor. We ate chicken with vegetables and for dessert my mom ordered a costume made cake. It was decorated with a giant white cross and it read Felicidads Mario (Congratulations Mario).
Even though our time here has been enjoyable. The biggest adjustment has been living without internet. We usually go every few days to my Mom’s cousin’s house where there is internet but I miss having access to it everyday. I play some resource management games that require internet and so I’m sad I can’t play as often as I want to.
A few days ago we visited a flea market and I bought a bunch of fireworks. My favorite was called Crackling Saturn Missiles. It was a small square box with 25 missiles tips pointed upward and the fuse was on the corner of the box. When I lit the fuse, seconds later each missile launched out of the box and made whistling sounds and crackling noises. It was awesome! My mom is going to take me back to the flea market to buy more so that on Christmas we can lite some fireworks.
One sad thing that has happened here is that I tried to introduce s’mores to my cousin’s and it didn’t work out as planned. My mom went shopping for the ingredients but wasn’t able to find graham crackers so she substituted for cookies sprinkled with cinnamon. When my cousin’s and I roasted marshmallows then put our s’mores together and took a bite, we did not like the flavor. I was sad that my plan had failed but at least we had fun roasting marshmallows and eating those all by themselves.
Take care blog readers. Until next time!
Peace,
Mario

Unexpected Trip

Pictured: Mario Chitwood and a Braille/large print menu from Denny's -- Photo courtesy of Mario Chitwood

Pictured: Mario Chitwood and a Braille/large print menu from Denny’s — Photo courtesy of Mario Chitwood

Hello readers,

I am writing this blog from outside the country. I am in Mexico! It is my first time traveling out of the country and it has been a great experience so far.

Side note, the hotel we are staying at has an amazing chocolate cake.
As you may know from my last blog the original plan was for me to stay behind while my mom traveled but at the last minute she decided that I could go too. So we expedited a passport, set up independent study and here I am.

We took two airplanes. The last time I was on an airplane was six years ago so it was awesome to be on an airplane again. I love the feeling of when the plane takes off. Landing is fun too though.

On day two of our trip, we entered a local Denny’s restaurant and for the first time ever, I was offered a menu in Braille! We could not believe it. It was a very cool experience and it’s something I will never forget. It was nice not depending on someone to read the menu to me & having the opportunity to read the menu myself. It made dining out a much better experience. It would be nice if all or at least most restaurants in the U.S provided Braille menus.

My mom and dad are not fans of being on airplanes so my mom hopes to book a nonstop flight back home. But I’m hoping she won’t find one so that we can go on multiple airplanes. My mom has been on an airplane before but this was my dad’s first time and I don’t think he liked it very much. He is not looking forward to our return flights.

The only downside to this trip has been that we did our traveling to Mexico Halloween day. That meant that unfortunately this year I did not get to dress up or even go trick or treating. I had planned on dressing up as an FBI agent but my mom didn’t think it was a good idea since we’d be going through airport security. So I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to be an FBI agent.

One thing we are doing is keeping up with the election results. It’s a very different experience watching election results in the U.S vs. watching them when you are out of the country. The media coverage is not as heavy and it’s not really a topic of conversation. I know if we were back home, it would be a completely different vibe. I won’t say who I would vote for if I could but I’m starting to get really into politics and can’t wait until I am old enough to vote.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I am still so honored to be one of the Donna Coffee Youth Scholarship Recipients for 2016!

Happy Fall!

Pictured: Mario Chitwood and his brother Max -- Photo Courtesy: Mario ChitwoodPictured: Mario Chitwood and his brother Max -- Photo Courtesy: Mario Chitwood

Pictured: Mario Chitwood and his brother Max — Photo Courtesy: Mario Chitwood

Hello my blog followers,

I am so glad it’s the fall season. I love when it gets close to all my favorite Holidays. I am not sure what my plans are for Halloween yet but I do plan on dressing up. I am thinking of dressing up as an FBI agent. I like to go trick-or-treating with my family until it gets pretty late. My favorite candy to receive is snickers. I really like going to the house that have life-size scary characters and with spooky music or sound effects. I can’t wait until Halloween!

Recently my homeroom class held elections for class representative. I wasn’t going to try out but then I changed my mind at the last second. The next day after all the votes were counted, I was told that I had won. That means that for an entire trimester I will be the 7th grade class rep. I will be going to meetings once a week to discuss school events, school spirit and a lot of other topics. I signed up for the service committee I will be promoting fund raisers and other things like that.

My mom will be traveling out of the country in a few weeks and I’m sad about her leaving. She will only be gone for a week or two but I will miss her. As you can tell I am not looking forward to her leaving. When she gets back I will help her plan my baby brother’s 2nd birthday party that will be on November 20th. I think his birthday theme is going to be all about Elmo so I will help my mom make some decorations. A few days ago I made a triple chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and it was extremely delicious. I think I will ask my mom if I can make this for Max’s birthday. It will be my birthday gift to him.

With Thanksgiving coming up I will also be busy helping my mom out by choosing the menu and helping her out in the kitchen. I usually am in charge of being the taste tester but this year I want to help make a dish. I think a dessert will be fun to make. I take pride in my baking.

Also this Friday my school will be hosting a Fall Festival. My mom and I will be in charge of running the cake walk booth. There will also be a silent auction, lots of inflatable activities like bungee basketball, splash seat, and zorb balls. I want to play the game splash seat where we will have a chance to dunk one of our teachers if we hit a target. I also will be buying cotton candy and popcorn to snack on. It should be a really fun night. I can’t wait!

Another thing I did these past few days was that I made a video for a HIMS contest. The video was about my Braille Sense and how I use it. It took almost a full one hour to make a two minute video. Some of my mistakes were hilarious. I hope I can have more news in the upcoming months but for now my life is pretty calm. Peace! out!

Middle School Begins

 

Hi CTEBVI blog readers! If you read my last blog you know that I had a really fun and super busy summer. But unfortunately summer break is over and it was time to start MIDDLE SCHOOL.

I started on August 15 and my first day went well. It was an adjustment learning the lay out of my new school campus but I have it down now. Another huge adjustment was getting use to traveling to six different classrooms each with different teachers. My favorite class this semester is science. I am currently memorizing the ENTIRE periodic table of elements. So far I have memorized the first 20 out of 118.

During the second week of school we had our first field trip. We went to the Four Winds ropes course. This field trip was for the purpose of having fun but also to do team building exercises with our new classmates. I went on two different high course challenges that were so amazing. The first one was zip lining and I had to climb a tree to get to the platform. The climb hurt because I had to hold onto metal rings. Slowly and painfully I got to the top and when I was standing on the platform I realized my hands were stuck in the position of a claw. After loosening up my fingers I jump off the platform and I dropped for a few feet before shooting forward. There are no words to describe how fun and exhilarating it is. I felt free. I also felt like the world was perfect in that moment.

After the zip line came a ropes course called the xylophone. The xylophone is about twenty feet off the ground. When I was a few feet from the top I accidentally dropped about ten feet before I reached the platform. Thankfully I was in a harness which caught my fall so all that happened was that I swung a couple times back and forth towards the tree. After swinging for a bit I managed to grab a ring with my right hand. It felt like I might dislocate my shoulder. My friend who was waiting for me at the top, wanted to get down. I told him he could go down, but I said I would try to do the course by myself even though the course was meant for two people. After I said that my friend changed his mind and said he would continue. My friend and I manage to finish the course and everyone cheered. Unfortunately the two people that were going after my team weren’t able to go because we ran out of time. They said they didn’t care because it was good enough watching my team. In my opinion that was kind and I think this was a great way to get to know people at my new school.

Another change that has occurred since starting middle school, is that every Wednesday we are required to run a mile. My first run was pretty slow but then my second time I had improved my time by 15 seconds. One of my new goals I have set for myself is to keeping improving my time every single week. I don’t really enjoy running the mile but since I have to than I will keep trying to break my own records.

I don’t have many activities going on outside of school right now. September is my most laid back month. I do plan on joining the Lego robotics team at my school. That should be starting in the next few weeks. I have also thought of starting a chess club during lunch break at school but that’s not for sure yet. I will give you an update on whether or not I decide to start the chess club in my next blog. Until then take care and as always thanks for taking the time to read through my blogs. Peace out!

Fun Filled Summer

I am having the most eventful summer break I’ve ever had in my life. It kicked off in mid-June when I went to the California School for the Blind (CSB) to attend a Technology and Sports Camp. While at CSB I did many things such as: played goal ball, indoor rock climbing, swimming, roller skating, learned about taking videos then editing them, and last but not least took two off campus trips. The first was to a local movie theater where we got to watch/listen to a movie with audio description. The movie was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and it was awesome and action packed. The second off campus trip was to Santa Cruz Beach Board Walk. I went on several different roller coasters and bought myself some fluffy, delicious, mouthwatering cotton candy. Upon my return from Tech & Sports camp I was home for only five days when it was time to pack up and leave but this time for Carlsbad, California.

My family and I were headed to Legoland to celebrate my 13th birthday. When we arrived at Legoland, I immediately wanted to start riding the roller coasters. My favorite ride there was called Technic. I made my mom go on it with me over and over again. Besides going on the rides, I also did a lot of shopping. I bought a lego man cake mold that I plan on using very soon. I also went to the Brick Hut Shop where they sold Lego pieces by the pound. I filled up a bag of different lego pieces so that I could build houses, cars and maybe a space shuttle. It was really cool to pick my own lego pieces. After two days visiting Legoland we went to Los Angeles to finally visit the California ScienCenter! My tour guide, Albert was really knowledgeable and provided hands on experiences. I learned a lot about different ecosystems. The most memorable part was when I got to touch a starfish, sea urchin, and sea cucumber. I enjoyed visiting the California ScienCenter because it was nice to have a personal tour guide taking time to explain all that the science center has to offer not to mention it’s hands on! I hope to visit it again when I’m back in the LA area.

My fun summer didn’t stop there! We came home for a few days then headed off on a road trip to Idaho to visit family. We celebrated Fourth of July there and it was epic. My parents bought a lot of fireworks so I was really excited. My favorites were the Roman Candles. Unlike other fireworks you light the Roman Candle and hold on to the stick and point it high up into the air. The thing that makes them so cool is that they shoot off little balls of fire into the air. Next year, I plan on buying lots more Roman Candles.

After getting back from Idaho, I was home for a week before it was time to leave for Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC). EHC is a camp for the visually impaired where there are so many activities to try like swimming, archery, hiking, boating, and different craft projects. They do way more, but I just listed the basics. I like going to camp there because there is a day called Theme Day and this year the theme was Olympics. They put people in teams and this year I was placed in team South Korea. The first contest was an arts and craft contest. We had to make the largest tower made out of sticks and my friend and I stumbled upon a nine foot branch. That branch is the reason my team won that contest. Contest after contest flashed by until it was the last event. It was a scavenger hunt. After what seemed like hours they announced the winners of the scavenger hunt and my team lost. We thought they were talking about the whole contest but in the end it turned out my team won the whole Olympic games. My team was screaming like crazy and sharing hugs and high fives. I was sad when it was time to go home but was already looking forward to next year.

After EHC camp I came home for one day then headed off to my last camp of the summer. It was at Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). This was my first time attending this camp and it was really awesome. I learned so much about what it will be like once I get a guide dog. Besides working and learning about guide dogs we did other activities like taking a walk to Muir woods and visiting the GDB gift shop. My favorite time was the over night experience with our own guide dog. I was assigned a golden retriever that got to spend the night in my room. I didn’t want to have to give her back the next day but I did. I can’t wait until the day I get my very own guide dog.

So as you have read, I am having a busy summer. Staying supper busy makes summer vacation go by way too fast but I have done a lot of awesome things and have met some really cool kids at the camps I’ve gone to so that’s the plus side. I can’t believe summer vacation is almost over and that I will be starting middle school soon. I think for the rest of the summer I will take it easy and sleep in. I deserve it.