SkillsUSA SkillsUSA Champions Summer 2011 : Page 10

“He’s hungry for knowledge. He’s always had a positive attitude. It rubs off on the other students.” — Waita’s instructor, Chauncey Kila “They are trying to build more roads, to bring in highways,” Waita adds. “That was one of the shocks that I had when I came here: the highways that you people have, four cars going one direction. The maximum we have is two.” Waita’s mood lifts when he talks about construction in the United States. “I’ve told people about the infrastruc-ture you people have,” he says. “The roadwork, it’s organized. You people are way ahead. I talk with my friends from home. We believe we’re more than 100 years behind.” Waita explains that under British rule during the 1920s and ’30s, Kenya’s cities were planned for 50 years out. Now the highways are so congested, it once took his mother from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. to drive three miles. She could have pulled over and walked, but she was warned there probably would be no car to return to. Building with words and music Besides buildings, Waita constructs songs. He plays guitar and has been interested in music since the age of 11. “That’s when I began to start to try to imitate people and write down lyrics. A few years later, I started to write my own songs,” he says. “I used to perform in places in Kenya.” Visiting Tulsa’s Victory School as a guest speaker, he was asked to write a song. The result, “Kool 2 Be Kind,” is geared to younger audiences and addresses bullying. (To see his music video online, visit YouTube and search for “Kevin Waita 1010.”) He’s also working with a studio to record an album. Waita’s masonry instructor, Chauncey Kila, likewise builds with words. He discovered a talent for poetry when asked to write something for a class. “I was reading up on how to write a poem, and most of the things that I read said to write something that you’re passionate about,” Kila says. “Well, I’m a bricklayer, so I’m passionate about brick-laying and what I do. So I wrote a poem about bricks and mortar. I had to get in front of the class and read it. The teacher said, ‘You missed your calling.’” (Read samples of Kila’s poetry at: www.skillsusa. org/champions/poems.html .) It’s been a blessing to have Waita as a student, Kila adds. “He’s hungry for knowledge. He’s always had a positive attitude. It rubs off on the other students. He’s become a mentor to some in the class. That’s why I was able to get him a job. I hear comments from his boss all the time.” Waita works for Advance Masonry in Tulsa and also hosts an international radio program broadcast at 107.9 FM in Tulsa ( www.kfmyradio.com ) . “We have different languages from all around the world and have done a special on Japan,” he says. Word by word, brick by brick, Waita and Kila are building strong futures, whether it’s for youngsters learning to be kind or for those who need sturdy roofs over their heads. Go ahead, admit it: you’re not like most people. You’re always looking at menus with a critical eye, noticing things that others don’t. You get excited at the fi rst mention of upcoming farmers’ markets. You plan your weekends around food, and your conversations always seem to gravitate to the next big ingredient or culinary trend. Food is your passion. Here at the CIA—the world’s premier culinary college—you’ll fi t right in! Our talented instructors and amazing facilities will help you master the art of food and gain the business savvy you need to succeed on the restaurant fl oor, in test kitchens, at corporate headquarters, behind a writer’s desk, on TV— wherever your food life takes you. APPLY NOW! 1-800-CULINARY (285-4627) Bachelor’s & Associate Degrees | Culinary Arts & Baking and Pastry Arts Approximately 90% of students receive fi nancial aid | Financial aid available for those who qualify U

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