I've realized this week that I could run a blog full-time, just by posting regularly what happens in my classes or what I'm doing in my classes.
I'm teaching four Guam History classes at UOG for the month of November, taking over for a professor who is sick and off-island. He's given me space to do whatever I want, and so there were a number of different projects I wanted my students to do, but I'll really only have time for one, and so the description for it I'm pasting below. Its called "Estao Pulitikåt: I Chalån-ta Mo’na," and in it, classes will be divided into three groups, each representing a different political status for Guam, statehood, independence and free association, and they will have to answer "tough" questions from me about what Guam will look like under their political status and why given the island's historical and contemporary problems, is their particular status the best way to go.
The first groups have their debates/forums tomorrow and so I'm busy preparing their questions right now.
This is all an experiment having never done anything like this before, and so what happens is historic for me, and will either enable me or limit me in how I approach this topic and the teaching or consciousness building of it in the long run. Some of the classes have shown to be excited about the assignment and are eagerly organizing and preparing themselves, planning to use powerpoint, placards, team uniforms, slogans and I heard one group even discussing a theme song.
Given the importance of this class in my "professional" development as a scholar activist, I've been irritating my students and taking pictures of them while they are in their groups. Before I paste the assignment description, here are some pictures of some of the different groups while they are actively debating and discussing independence, free association and statehood.
Group Project: Estao Pulitikåt: I Chalån-ta Mo’na
Estorian Guahån (History of Guam)
Mismo na Fafana’gue: Larry Cunningham
Tahtahgue: Michael Lujan Bevacqua
HSS Room 106
Introduction: The political status of Guam – its existence as an unincorporated territory or colony – is something that affects all aspects of our lives on Guam. From our relationship to the islands around Guam, to our relationship with the United States and the rest of the world, to even simply what we on Guam see ourselves as being capable of, the political status of Guam is central to the character of our lives;, yet this is not something that most people admit to caring about or even knowing about. Those that are interested in changing the island’s political status are often dismissed or reviled by the majority of people on Guam as “activists” or “radicals.” In reality, these activists are simply working to change a colonial relationship between Guam and the United States to something more equitable and fair, and by doing so force us all to confront the harsh reality of our situation on island – namely that while living in a colony may be undesirable, it is easier to deal with so long as no one talks about it.
Project description: For this project, you will all be divided into three groups of “activists.” Each group will represent a different future political status for Guam – i.e. statehood, free association or independence.
On Nov. ?, this class will become a forum where I will act as a moderator and each group will provide introductions to their political status option, and also be prepared to answer questions about what Guam would look like should it achieve the stated political status, and why their option is the best for Guam.
As moderator I represent the people of Guam, both those who know and care about these issues, and those that don’t. You must be prepared for any nature of questions.
What You Are Required to Do (as a group):
Participate in the Forum on Nov. ?
Prepare an introduction and a conclusion that your group will give on the forum date (this can take any form you’d like, a speech, a song, a power point, a flyer, artwork, etc. Your time limit is 5 minutes total)
Be prepared to answer questions about your group’s political status, and argue convincingly that it is the best route for Guam to take
What You Are Required To Do (individually):
Turn in on Nov. ? a one page report (double spaced) on what sort of research or assistance you provided to your group in this project, and some thoughts on what you learned.
How to Prepare:
You will be given two lectures to help you prepare. These will give you some background and some ideas that will help you navigate the history of your political status and what it might mean for the future. Most of your work will have to be done outside of class, both individually and as a group. It will be up to your group to decide how to divide the labor of researching, and also preparing your presentations and for your questions.
Think about what sort of questions I might ask and about what topics (economy? education? society? politics? military? environment?). You can divide your group into various people assigned to address different topics. This project is not just about what info you can come up with, but also how well you can organize yourselves in order to complete the project.
Although there is very little discussion about this issue, that doesnot imply that there are no ideas out there, books or websites to read, and people to talk to. Here are some suggestions on ways to start, I will give your groups more concrete help in my lectures:
Contact Senators or Governmental Officials about their ideas on Guam’s political status
Contact the Decolonization Commission/Commission on Self-Determination Office
Talk to the Representatives of each of these three Political Status Commissions
Talk to your Family/Friends about what they see for Guam’s future
There are different organizations that take these issues seriously, speak to their representatives. Conduct research on the internet.
Conduct research at MARC
Contact Guam Election Commission on the Decolonization Plebiscite
Contact the Attorney General’s office on the legal consequences of Guam’s decolonization
(Talk to me if you want some specifics names or resources!)
How You Will Be Graded:
You will be graded mainly based on your group’s performance in the political status forum. So long as your introduction, conclusion and answers to my questions are persuasive and well thought out then you will receive a good grade. You will not each be required to speak during the forum, but if your post-forum report does not indicate that you conducted any significant research or participated in any meaningful way, then you individually will be graded down.
One idea often used to reject the decolonization of Guam, or the changing of its political status, is that it is a “Chamorro only” issue and therefore a racist idea. While, if a political status plebiscite does take place, not all on island will be allowed to vote in it, only those designated by the United States and the United Nations as being derived politically of this right by Guam’s colonization (the majority of whom are Chamorro). But the just as the colonization of Guam affects all of us in different ways, decolonization is something we all should take part in, Chamorro or not.