Monday, August 04, 2014

Hinengge v. Kinemprende

The exhibit Sindalu: Chamorro Journey Stories in the US Military is still on display at the Agana Shopping Center. At the end of this month it will move to its next location in the Isla Center for the Arts at UOG.

Although the creation of an exhibit like this can be so stressful, especially when you have a very tight timeline for completion, the experiences after the exhibit is open can be so rewarding. I was so worried that more people would complain about the exhibit and why their family stories weren't covered, which is what I often hear in the community about projects like this. But very few people have approached me personally about that, and many of the conversations I have had both while visiting the exhibit and also just out and about have given me a sense of how interesting and engaging people found the narrative.

So many people appreciated the way it deepened their own understanding of the experiences of their fathers, cousins, sisters and grand parents in the US military. So many people knew their grandfather or father served in the US Navy and was a cook, but they didn't know the extent to which non-white sailors at that time struggled against racism and segregation. The more people I talked to, the more I realized that although we as a community and as an island have a very close relationship to the US military and US militarism, this connection can actually be very shallow and limited. I sometimes articulate it as the difference between belief and faith versus understanding and knowledge. Many people walk around with ideas or beliefs about the US military and Chamorro experiences or connections to it, but they don't understand very much, their knowledge doesn't give them much in terms of being able to negotiate ideas or reality, it is just enough to make statements, but not take stands.

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