Friday, August 26, 2016

Saving a People

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Saving a People and Their Culture Through the Perpetuation of a Language …

Nasion Chamoru

The CHamoru culture is being revived and with great enthusiasm! 

I find it fascinating to see that the CHamoru language to many CHamorus abroad especially in the lower 48 states in the U.S. find their native language of Guåhan and the Marianas as a “secondary language.”  But with much praise to all those past and present who continue in teaching the language to those “willing to learn” their native language using all forms of medium available to spread the knowledge.

As I drive on the freeway or in city streets, I notice more and more car stickers with words or symbols only associated with the CHamorus of the Marianas.

Makes feel good to see that many of the vehicle owners are between Gen X (Generation X) or a Millennial.

Some of the common symbols used are the fish hooked used more commonly now as pendants on necklaces, or the silhouette of the Island of Guåhan. 
Others sport symbols such as the Latté and Tåsa or a silhouette of a masculine male with his hair at a half-notch.  The most popular symbol is that found in the center of the national flag of Guåhan with the
sakman out in the water just off shore.
The words used in some cases are; Håfa Adai; Håfa?; Fokai; Chamorro; or CHamoru.

Regardless of what symbol or words I find on these
vehicles, the answer as to what People claims the vehicle is clear, “They are CHamoru.”  It doesn’t bother me if they were born abroad, rather it makes one quite happy to know that the descendants whom have left the island for whatever reason have found some form of identity and are proud of it.  And for that we should all be proud.

Recently, I have seen more spirited efforts both on island and off by CHamorus in undertaking much effort in teaching both the native language and more recently the written form of the language.

Although the efforts must be commended, many traditional CHamorus whom grew up speaking the language feel that the written language would only divide the people into sects.  As many I have spoken to in the region have mentioned, “Tåya adai na mafa’någué ham taimanu ma’tuge’-påpa' i lenguåhita’.”  Others believe that this should actually help perpetuate the culture and its People by doing so in teaching a written version of the language.

Not personally taking sides on the issue, I must admit that descendants of the Ancient CHamoru and Native to the Marianas region should be proud that an effort is being undertaken and with such vigor and enthusiasm.

Speak it! Teach it! Practice it daily!  Even if by only comprising a simple sentence that you can use to teach your descendants, your forefathers and mothers will be proud to see that you’ve taken that time in passing a legacy that has existed for thousands of years and that their legacy will continue to live even in a highly technological environment!
Si Yu’os Ma’åsi Afanelos…

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Keeping Chamorro Alive

Keeping Chamorro language alive
by Haidee V. Eugenio
Pacific Daily News
August 20, 2016

Chamorro speakers on Guam are dwindling.

“I speak Chamorro and I want my children and husband, all born here, to also know how to speak the language. We’re hoping to close the gap,” Kayla Lujan-Espinosa, 27, said as she cradles her 3-week-old child and looks after her 4-year-old son at a community presentation on a draft master plan for a Chamorro immersion school program.

She and her husband Rufo, 30, have three young children they want to understand and speak Chamorro. The Lujan-Espinosa family is one of many whose members are born and raised in Guam, yet many of them don't understand, much less speak, Chamorro.

“From 1990 to present, we probably lost about 10,000 Chamorro speakers,” said Jimmy S. Teria, school program consultant with the Guam Department of Education’s Chamorro Studies and Special Projects Division.

“When I heard about a proposal to have a Chamorro immersion school program, I thought this will help my family learn the language,” said Kayla Lujan-Espinosa, who's originally from Saipan, a teacher at Talofofo Elementary School.

Despite their busy schedule, the family took the time to attend a presentation Wednesday at the Yona/Talofofo Senior Citizens Center in Talofofo on a draft Chamorro Immersion Master Plan developed by the Guam Department of Education’s Chamorro Studies and Special Projects Division. The draft plan is available for public review, input and participation.

No new generation

Most Chamorro speakers, Teria said, are over age 55, so they are considered a part of the older population.

“We haven’t created a new generation of speakers,” said Teria, one of the leading proponents of a community-driven Chamorro language immersion school program. He said the program would complement existing Chamorro language programs on the island.

Teria said the data is based from the U.S. Census of 1990, 2000 and 2010, which show the number of Chamorro speakers declining from 34,598 to 25,827. He said between 2010 and 2016, thousands more have been lost, bringing the estimate to 10,000.

“According to statistics, if you don’t have a younger generation speaking the language, your language is endangered. It’s very endangered at this point," he said.

Teria also cited the results of a survey done by Pa’a Taotao Tano in 2010.

“There is an indication from the data that the under-18 group struggles the most with the Chamorro language in overall comprehension,” Teria said. 

Dying, but not dead

Rosa Salas Palomo, another proponent of a language immersion program and chairwoman of the Guam Academy Charter School Council, said the time is now to slow down or reverse the decline in the number of Chamorro speakers.

She said community involvement is a key factor in making this happen.

“The Chamorro language is dying, but it’s not dead in Guam,” Palomo said. “We want it alive. It is still viable. We want it used in every aspect of the community.”

The draft plan, according to Teria, resulted from a community survey completed in March 2016 to gauge interest in a Chamorro language immersion program. There were 164 unique respondents and 88 of those agreed or strongly agreed that they would enroll their children at a school where only Chamorro is used for teaching, learning and socializing.

Teria is encouraging families, individuals and groups interested in reviewing or providing input to the draft plan, or learn more about the proposed program, to contact him at 300-5048 or 483-3713.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New Chamorro Immersion Program

Chamorro immersion program ensures Guam's language isn't lost
by Isa Baza

With fewer and fewer children speaking the Chamorro language every year, the Guam Department of Education is stepping up to create a Chamorro immersion program that may help keep our island's native tongue fresh in the minds of Guam youth.

"Right now based on a lot of the surveys we've done throughout the years, we don't have any speakers, we don't produce speakers, so our intention with this master plan is to produce speakers for our next generation, so when they're done with their schooling, they're able to survive using the Chamorro language," explained Division of Chamorro Studies acting administrator Rufina Mendiola. She said her department has developed a draft Chamorro immersion master plan, which aims to teach students exclusively in Chamorro.

"We need to have the science teacher speaking only in Chamorro, the math, the basic content that every child needs to learn in the classroom but it's going to be all immersed in the Chamorro language," she added.

The draft plan is a result of a survey of both parents and students conducted last school year. Mendiola said, "And based on the results, a lot of the questions had to do with - if we had an immersion master plan in place for the department of education, are you going to have your child attending - there are a lot of parents that are interested."

She said the program would address weaknesses with the current program, including a lack of sufficient instructional time.  "We're very limited right now, for example in elementary and teaching of the Chamorro mandate, we have twenty minutes a day for the K-2 and 30 minutes for 3-5, it's very limited," she added.

She hopes to produce a finalized plan later this year, and possibly begin a pilot program at the elementary level in School Year 2017-2018. However community support is essential. For those interested in learning more about this plan you can attend a community presentation scheduled for Wednesday at 6pm at the Talofofo Senior Center.