I studied at the same school, at the same place, for 13 years. I started in 1973 with 5 years. The Saint George’s College was a catholic private school, lead by American priests. These group of priest leaded a modern way of education based on self discipline, where children were free to choose on staying in class or work in the farm, or whatever. The place was so privileged emplaced on the hillside of the Manquehue mountain, with green open spaces, forests, trees, and with outstanding views on the Andes.
The priests made a modern sociological laboratory based on high values of respect and solidarity. Giving scholarships to children of poor families of the area.
The idea didn´t work as expected. In one side the family children never get immersed and on the other side classism and cruelty never give up. There is classism everywhere in the world, we accept that. And cruelty, it appears in human history.
The priests kept their ideas of socialism in the more exclusive neighborghood of the city until September 11th 1973, when classes were suspended and our school was in the news. The priests were accused of hide Andres Pascal Allende, leader of the radical movement MIR.
Several members of the Congregation were arrested, tortured, and deported. And the militar police took over St.George’s College in September 1973.
This is how i remind it, or I constructed the theme. I was very young in those days but I still remember that suddenly we figured ourselves playing with friends weekday mornings. Streets were closed, no cars, no people around, because the country was merged in a kind of civil war, that had its climax on September 11th.
That day, everyone were at their homes, in a sunny and smogi day of the begining of spring. Suddenly at 12 pm you could hear the sound of the Hawker Hunters in low flight, on their way to La Moneda. Where Salvador Allende died under the bombs of these modern aircrafts.
On this day, started the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). And after a hot and confused summer I backed school and started my non-stop-12-years of catholic education. This, with a big difference on the manners. We had a military General as director instead of a priest. And each Monday we would have to stand in line to chant a new patriot hymn and raise the Chilean flag. Like a group of tiny little soldiers. Thanks god the georgean spirit was strong, if not things would be so different.
Growing each year was different. Each year we change classroom, area, and teachers. And new classmates aswell. I was lucky on having great people around. And all kind of people. I had close friends with hippie fathers, intellectuals, doctors, and politics. Ultra catholics or buddhists. So, my education was influenced by different thoughts.
I used to go to school by bike with my old brother. One bike for two people was fun. We didn´t need to take buses or drive too much. I think this is one factor why I matured later than my peers. I didn´t manage money, I didn´t go to far from my neighborhood, my mother take care much of me, indeed. And the area was fine, so we stayed. I grow up in quite and green streets, full of trees. Beautiful streets with small slopes, to go around by bike, or skate. There was a park aswell, going up on trees was normal.
So, that was the enviorment.
I started my life going to school on a very early age, and at the beginning I didn´t like it too much. I cried a lot on my first school day, I think I had a panic attack with 5 years old. The only good thing about those first years was, that I met two of my great friends of life till now. Two beautiful girls both called Marcela, my classmates all the way. Our school was mixto, (which is made up of two or more different things mixed together), and became like this just few years before we got in. On its first days SG was a men school, where ministers, politicians, and intellectuals, made their first studies.Then followed movie makers, actresses and writers. A mixed school was already modern for a society who had the education in hands of the church, in hands of the nuns or the priests. My mother and father studied on internships. In my mother´s case french nuns and my father spanish priests.
On first place, we had the advantage on had a normal relationship between boys and girls and viceversa.
When I became more conscious of my being, i started to knowing people out of school. Maybe, I was 10 or 11 years old. I met, different kind of people, as my two friends, Andy and George. We grew up together in the neigborghood. They were arriving from living in the United States and had many american costums. I´ve learnt with them to play Baseball, Hockey, Skating, Roller Skating, and to eat with ketchup. Aaaaandy, used to shouted Evelyn, her beautiful and slim mother. Our best panorama was going to Santa Maria Manquehue, where the Rabat family had a Vinyard. Where there was a long, long street coming from the hill of the Manquehue mountain. We went uphill and then run over the skate downhill. 30 kms/hour going down. And we got beautiful views on the valley.
So, they were a Jewish family, so I also learned Jewish customs. I participated in two Barmitzvahs sitting on the second floor with the group of women. The men sang Yiddish and I listened intently to the Torah. But the best was the party. Shalom.
That was not my first experience with other religions, my neighborghs next door were jews as well, Pablo and Daniela; and from her I´ve learnt very young about Israel and the kibutz and maybe, something about nazis and soaps. There was free religious expression. But most of the population, at school only learned about catholic history, nothing else. About jewish, we learned at History class with the world war II. That´s all.
Chile was a country with many immigrants too. Especially, Europeans and Middle Easterners, so you had a chance to find someone different. But most, were Catholics. Starting from my family. My great-great-grandmother, Ernesta Agnelli, as I said before at the Milano story, was on the list for the inauguration of the church in Cartagena in 1914. I think with this I´m clear on the idea. And so it was.