English translation of the preceding article:

“Keep Fighting; Things Can Change”

Special thanks to Kerri Wall, an excellent ally of mine who has counselled me well, helped me write this in English, and been an amazing support for young people.

Up until last year, I had only studied at public schools. But the heavy oppression of young people was very difficult to manage, so I decided to leave school and take charge of my own education. I wanted to focus on my learning and re-emergence. This wasn’t a mistake for me, because we, young people, are endlessly intelligent and very capable, but from the perspective of the school system and the government in my country, it was a big mistake.

During the months of independent learning, I tried to decide if I wanted to finish high school and go to university. I struggled with what the hell* to do next! I had many Co-Counselling sessions and finally decided that the best thing for me was to get into a private school where I could finish two years in one.

At my new school, it’s been easy to succeed in all of my subjects and to show the adults the reality of young people, our natural capabilities, and the innate intelligence of all humans. At the same time, this school is the biggest oppressive system I have ever had to face, and it has been shocking and hard to handle.

At first I stayed silent, “to avoid making a scene,” as my mom says, but I realized that’s not the right way. I built up my courage and went to see the director of the school. I told him I wanted to finish this year in October instead of November and how oppressive it could be for us young people to work within a system that doesn’t fit our human nature. I also talked about the senseless mistreatment we receive—for example, on the first day of classes every teacher told us to “behave better than young people usually do” because he or she “didn’t want to deal with delinquents throughout the year.”

The director was finally listening. When he began to speak, his reply wasn’t completely honest or accurate, but then he started to agree with almost everything I had said. At the conclusion of the meeting, he told me that he could probably let me finish the year earlier than usual and admitted that to go against this system is a very difficult and slow process. 

I’d felt discouraged before the meeting, but after our talk and after I’d had a session, I could see myself as the good, loving, caring, responsible being that I was and see that I could change things. Changing things is just a matter of time, if you hold on firmly to your convictions. 

I have begun to question why there is such a difference between public schools and private schools. At least in Chile, classism is huge and is integrated into our education system. Working-class and middle-class people are pushed to the periphery of my city, where there is little access to knowledge and education. This makes young people travel long distances to get to supposedly better schools.

From my experience as a working-class young person, I can firmly state that you can study anything you want, for as long as you want, if you have people supporting you and mainly if you are discharging on every single restimulation or situation that comes up. I am proof that this is possible. The important thing is not to believe patterned stories and ideas. Be brave and fight.

How are you managing the oppression (especially classism) in schools, universities, jobs, your houses, or wherever you’re spending your life? I hope you can choose a good perspective and keep fighting. Things can change.

Sincerely, with many hugs and much strength and love, 

José Nilo Rodríguez

Puente Alto, Santiago, Chile

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

* “The hell” is a slang expression that adds emphasis.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00