In the 135th anniversary of Santiago College, this businessman and former SC student told us some anecdotes of his school days, a time he remembers with much fondness and gratefulness. He also referred to the great contributions that the values delivered by the school have meant for him in his life.
Jorge Machicao was in one of his best moments in life. He was making efforts to bring Toyotomi stoves to Chile and it was becoming a great business, as they were being sold very well in the local market turning him into a successful businessman at only 47 years of age. He was a very healthy person, with no vices, and playing football three times a week … He was full of projects ahead.
One night in May 2008, his fears were confirmed. Browsing through the web he confirmed that the physical symptoms he was suffering for some years – he couldn’t lift the right foot well, he didn’t have strength to go up the stairs, he had fallen in the court when playing football-, where nothing less than the symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (LAS). This is a rare neuromuscular degenerative disease originating from some cells in the nervous system that gradually reduce their operational capacity and die, causing a progressive muscular paralysis.
The impact of this news was so strong, all his projects collapsed when he realized the radical change that was coming. It was a key moment that divided his life into before and after the illness.
However, the former SC student was not defeated by his disease. His huge desire to live, his tenacity and his self-discipline helped him to go along and not to surrender. He decided that while his body permitted it, he would continue to live just as he had always done it, accompanying his children and his wife in everything and enjoying every moment as much as possible.
Today, 50 years old, Jorge can only communicate through a computer that reads his eyes. However, he continues to go to meetings and visits Santiago College whenever he can. He loves the school and the school spirit which, as he says – delivered him the tools that have helped him overcome difficulties and “live life with passion.”
- Which are the values delivered by the school that have helped you more in your professional and personal life?
- I think that Santiago College delivers many values, among which I can mention the following:
Self-discipline. I don’t know if this continues now or how you call it, but when we had our study time in the hall, we had to use our time efficiently without a teacher controlling us, and, as it has happened later in my work life, I haven’t had a boss in 24 years! Without considering the boss at home, though.
Tolerance in terms of races, religious diversity, social difference, etc. I had to go through this in university, when some friends who came from very catholic schools determined that there was only one morality and it was precisely what they had been taught, or Jews from fanatic schools who did not mix with other people; they dressed with military jackets; or Arabs, who did not watch some films because they transmitted Jewish propaganda. I had Jewish, Catholic and Muslim school mates and our SC spirit always prevailed over our differences. I think that the ecumenical ceremonies with representatives from various religions helped a lot in that sense. Some of our school mates had a very different reality. There were foreigners, etc. All this crated a broad mind in us, something very useful in the current world and particularly in my former days of work when I was travelling all over the world during five months in the year.
- Finally, and probably most important is that we learnt to live life with passion.
- Which are the best memories you have from your school days?
- The unending football matches with Miss Tránsito Gatica pulling your sideburn because you were late; the study trip. Even though the school was considered a girl school in those days, we beat other “macho” schools in football.
- Which are the tools delivered by the school that have helped you more to face your illness and cope with it as best as possible?
- I think that having a broad mind, living life with passion and tenacity, and mainly being a Colo-Colo fan.
- How would you define the students who graduate from Santiago College? Which do you think is their mark or the main characteristics that make them stand out?
- I’m going to repeat my previous words. I think that being broad-minded is a value in itself and I think that I identify it in most of my classmates. Another characteristic is self-discipline. Santiago College strived to imprint in us a very deep and powerful academic touch.
- What do you value most and are most grateful for the SC?
- An imprint that is as straight as a train line and invisible if you can say so. My mother graduated from this school 67 years ago and I did the same 34 years ago and my children are going to exit school in 2019 and 2022, I think I can identify the same general pattern. The same love for school, the same broadness of mind and self-discipline.
- Today we’ve changed our home but the school remains the same, which do you think are the roots that should not be lost in the new home?
- We have been about three years and a half here and apart from having left behind the beautiful building in Los Leones, the fish pond, etc., the school spirit is the same, academic excellence is the same and I don’t know if we need much more than that.