Mario is a member of an ethnic community called the Wichi – indigenous Argentinians who face a wide range of discrimination and many different challenges to survival. Due to the common yet incorrect prejudice that Wichi children have learning difficulties, Mario had to begin his education in a special needs school. Today, he is one year away from finishing high school – but getting there has not been easy. Sometimes he has lacked the necessary clothing to get to school safely, and due to family illness he has often had to spend time looking after his relatives. He has also had to endure the deaths of two members of his family – one of the worst tragedies imaginable.
Despite obstacles, Mario keeps going and wants to do well so that he can help his younger sister fulfil her goals. He also wants to help other Wichi avoid the problem of adolescent parenthood that is so common in their community, as this often prevents people from staying in education. Additionally, Mario wants to promote social change by showing people that they can be proactive in making their lives better, rather than waiting for help to arrive.
Over the years, Mario has found support from his classmates as well as his teacher, Professor Eva, who has lent him a computer to work on and encouraged him to get involved in activities like poetry competitions and math clubs. As a result, Mario has won Gold Medal in the Mathematical Kangaroos Olympics, First Prize in the First Provincial Literature Contest (genre poetry), Second Prize in the Güemes Literature Contest (genre stories), and Second Prize in the nationwide Evita Cultural Tournament Games (poetry genre).
Aside from his other achievements, Mario’s chief interest is in cellphones. He received his first phone as an award for a poem, which helped him to start creating applications that improved his work. From there, he learned how to fix cellphones, and now he gives tutorials on the subject to help people become better informed if they need to go to a repair shop. Subsequently, he has made his own website and become part of an online community for repairs and spare parts.
Despite living in a rural setting, Mario wants to be an entrepreneur and part of the urban technological world. With the Global Student Prize funds, he would improve his home and invest in a means of transportation to visit indigenous people who need help with writing (for example to fill out official applications). Many people of different indigenous ethnic groups cannot read or write, and Mario wants to help them develop themselves and solve their own problems. With the funds, he would also be able to buy tools and spare parts for cellphones, tablets and computers to grow his emerging business.