Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sigi' ha' kalamten

I got this email from a young Chamorro going to school out in the states. I get emails like this every once in a while, and they really help keep me going in my work and my life (if they can be seperated, I wonder about this far too much). Too often when you work in isolation, you tend to forget why you are doing things, and what impact you are making. Because of the way that we understand progress, action and activism we tend to view certain acts as being "real" while others are less real, productive or impactive. Although I know these hierarchies are often false or hardly secure, I sometimes fall prey to degrading my own activities because of them.

At the Chamorro Information Activists we are all spread out, meet every once in a while online and most of the time our work consists of responding to people's emails such as the one I'm going to post below. We get several dozen emails a week, usually from Chamorros in the states, usually in college who are interested in learning more, or doing more. Most of my work consists of giving these interested people as much help as I can, to try and push them in a critical direction (critical meaning "critiquing" as well as "vital and necessary").

Actually, in the past year, I've helped write more than a dozen college papers about Guam, written by Chamorros who wanted to learn more about their roots or culture. I've also assisted in the writing of three senior and master's thesises, responding sometimes for pages at a time to questions and pleas for help, input or feedback.

The point is however, that it is often easy to downgrade this type of work, because it is so rooted in virtual exchanges and the effects which they will have won't be seen until later. But emails such as this one, do help keep us going, by reminding us about the concrete changes which we can help bring about.

Here's the email...

Hafa Adai!

It's good to see that there are efforts to try and save our way of life as we know it! My friends and I are already collaborating on some things that might help. First off we need to get not just the Chamorro people interested in keeping our culture alive but the haolies that come to our island should also appreciate it. They seem to keep trying to change our way of life because they think their way of life is better. Well, I may not be able to change their view on that but at least I'll try to make them appreciate our culture. If we can some how come up with a better industry other than tourism we might be able to stabalize on our own with out relying on the USA for help. As it is they've made it quite impossible for us to function as a seperate unit.
If you guys have any ideas or thoughts on the matter I would be more than interested to know what is being done or trying to be done and I'll see if I can help out in any way possible. Right now I'm just trying to pay the rent but I hope to one day return home and still find it just as beautiful as when I left. I hope so...I really do.

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