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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,naemanson BS: Getting well in Guam (115* d) RE: BS: Getting well in Guam 28 Mar 14

Hi All,

We are well and very busy. Don't let anyone tell you teachers have it easy. That two month "vacation" is not quite long enough for full recuperation!

March is Chamorro month in Guam. The Chamorros are the indigenous people of Guam. Where I work in the southern end of the island the majority of the population is Chamorro. Most of my co-workers are as well as most of the students.

Like indigenous peoples everywhere these people have been given the short end of the stick. The government (GovGuam) spends very little on them.

But they are a proud people. A major part of the mission of the school is to help the students identify with their culture and to be proud of what they are.

Today we had the second activity in the ra yan raina competition. (Ra=King, Raina=Queen, roughly) The candidates had to make their own native Chamorro costume and then had to describe it in Chamorro. They also had to answer a set of questions posed in Chamorro and had to answer in the same language.

They did a lovely job on the costumes. The 13 candidates paraded around showing their workmanship. There were grass skirts, hats and decorative weaving made of coconut fronds, woven rice cooking baskets, and digging sticks. There is quite a bit of license taken by the people because their ancestors did not use any clothing and they cannot do that and stay within the mores of the 21st Century.

After the kids were done, and while the judges conferred, the Chamorro cultural dance instructor led the whole student body and the Chamorro faculty & staff in song. The words were Chamorro but to hear all those voices raised in song, with the hand gestures, sent a chill down my spine. It was beautiful. It brought home to me the importance of carrying on the culture that so many invaders have tried to abolish.

The dance instructor is a marvelous woman. I have no idea of her age but back home ignorant people would criticize her because of her weight. She is indeed short and chunky. But she has been a dancer for many, many years and she floats when she moves. She wears a lava-lava to work. She is as graceful as a gazelle. It is a wonderful experience to see her dance.

Our next unit in school is poetry! I told the kids to bring in their favorite poem. Of course they immediately protested they did not know any poems. I pointed out that songs are poems set to a melody so they can bring in lyrics to their favorite songs. That got the juices flowing. Then I told them they had to write down every word and syllable. Dried up those juices real fast. One kid looked at me with fear in his eyes. "Do we have to write it down?" "Yep! If the singer sings 'love, love, love' then I want every repeated word." The point is to look for the rhythm of the words. Also I intend to read some of them out loud, not sing them. Should be fun.

I don't know yet what my contribution will be. I have too many choices. I find I am limited in what I can sing to them because so many folk songs have "adult themes" like drinking, unfaithful spouses, child abuse, etc. Gotta skull this one out.

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