Santiago's Children

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Overview

Unclear about his future career path, Steve Reifenberg found himself in the early 1980s working at a small orphanage in a poor neighborhood in Santiago, Chile, where a determined single woman was trying to create a stable home for a dozen or so children who had been abandoned or abused. With little more than good intentions and very limited Spanish, the 23-year-old Reifenberg plunged into the life of the Hogar Domingo Savio, becoming a foster father to kids who stretched his capacities for compassion and understanding in ways he never could have imagined back in the United States.

In this beautifully written memoir, Reifenberg recalls his two years at the Hogar Domingo Savio. His vivid descriptions create indelible portraits of a dozen remarkable kids—mature-beyond-her-years Verónica; sullen, unresponsive Marcelo; and irrepressible toddler Andrés, among them. As Reifenberg learns more about the children's circumstances, he begins to see the bigger picture of life in Chile at a crucial moment in its history.

The early 1980s were a time of economic crisis and political uprising against the brutal military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Reifenberg skillfully interweaves the story of the orphanage with the broader national and international forces that dramatically impact the lives of the kids. By the end of Santiago's Children, Reifenberg has told an engrossing story not only of his own coming-of-age, but also of the courage and resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable residents of Latin America.

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What People Are Saying

Abraham F. Lowenthal
This book is a gem and offers a wonderful roadmap for students of any age who are thinking about engaging in a complicated world. It should make its way to every university career counseling office across the country.
Abraham F. Lowenthal, Professor of International Relations, University of Southern California
Martín Espada
Urgent and moving . . . The narrative fairly leaps from the pages when the political struggle comes into view. . . . The tale is amazingly hopeful, in spite of, or because of, the struggles in question. . . . This is a story of Chile we will not forget.
Martín Espada, author of The Republic of Poetry and other award-winning volumes of poetry
Abraham F. Lowenthal
This book is a gem and offers a wonderful roadmap for students of any age who are thinking about engaging in a complicated world. It should make its way to every university career counseling office across the country.
Martín Espada
Urgent and moving . . . The narrative fairly leaps from the pages when the political struggle comes into view. . . . The tale is amazingly hopeful, in spite of, or because of, the struggles in question. . . . This is a story of Chile we will not forget.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292717428
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 252
  • Sales rank: 967,703
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

STEVE REIFENBERG lives in Santiago, Chile, where he is the Director of the Regional Office of Harvard University's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. He has worked on international education and international conflict resolution for nearly two decades.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Paul Farmer
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. Visions of a Family Farm
Chapter 2. The Arrival
Chapter 3. Spanish Lessons
Chapter 4. Olga and the Hogar
Chapter 5. Not as Imagined
Chapter 6. Summer
Chapter 7. More Spanish and Other Lessons about Chile
Chapter 8. Politics
Chapter 9. The Pacific Coast
Chapter 10. The End of Summer
Chapter 11. A New School Year
Chapter 12. Professional Conversations
Chapter 13. On Being a Teacher
Chapter 14. Noisy and Complicated
Chapter 15. The Farm Revisited
Chapter 16. Donors, Demons, and Dentists
Chapter 17. Marcelo
Chapter 18. An Unexpected Journey
Chapter 19. A Home on Tupungato Street
Chapter 20. Catholics, Mormons, and Evangelicals
Chapter 21. Boys, Babies, and Biters
Chapter 22. The University
Chapter 23. Winter in a New Neighborhood
Chapter 24. Sebastián
Chapter 25. Explaining a Few Things
Chapter 26. You're Going to Do What?
Chapter 27. Groping in the Dark
Chapter 28. God Will See Us Through
Chapter 29. The End of the Road
Chapter 30. The Days of Waiting
Chapter 31. The Visit of the Gringos
Chapter 32. Searching for Something
Chapter 33. Taking Leave
Epilogue
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    A True Delight -- A Perfect Gift for Young and Old

    5.0 out of 5 stars A True Delight, October 28, 2008<BR/>By C. sturgis - See all my reviews<BR/>(REAL NAME) <BR/>I just finished Santiago's Children and I just want to go back and read it all again. Steve Reifenberg has written a book that opens the door into a period in a young man's life as he takes risks in discovering his life journey as well into a time in Chile's history in which the country began its new path. And rippling throughout the book are the stories of the children at the orphanage as they make sense of their lives.<BR/><BR/>What is most remarkable about this book is how it weaves together Reifenberg's self-deprecating humor, the life force and tragedy of the children, the courage of the founder of the orphanage, the quiet fear of the government, and the growing courage of Chileans as they demand greater justice in their lives.<BR/><BR/>Honestly, I can almost see and hear the laughing yelling of the children as they follow along with Reifenberg on his runs, the beating of pots and pans in the evening sky, and the precious conversations with the children as they open up their lives and hearts.<BR/><BR/>This is a definite must-read. It is also one of those rare books that would make a great present to just about anyone.<BR/><BR/>I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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