Being a Chamorro woman born and raised on Guam, I was so excited to hear that CHE’LU was a community partner of the HIUS144 course. I was even more thrilled to find that I would be partnering with this organization to conduct and record an oral history project.
I travelled to the Sons & Daughters of Guam clubhouse for the first time with Ryan Okazaki and Krystle Montgomery, although they had visited the week before. When we arrived, the clubhouse instantly remind me of the village mayor’s offices back on Guam. The appearance of the clubhouse contributed to this, but also the integration of a stage, outdoor kitchen, store, and cafeteria just boasted the hospitality and inclusiveness of Chamorro culture.
We took a tour around the clubhouse with June, a woman who volunteers at the store three days a week. June’s charisma and extroversion reminded me of my grandmother and other elderly Chamorro women. The Chamorro culture is rooted in matriarchy, and to this day women are revered and respected. We then met with Benni, an events coordinator, who also embodied the same characteristics of June.
Two visiting women were doing a workshop on Chamorro line-dancing, and we participated. It was so much fun, and it showed how lively our people are. No matter what age and no matter what time, the Chamorro culture always strives for a good time.
As it was a senior luncheon day, we sat down with the elders who were there and shared a meal. They had a nutritionist speak on health tips and guides for the elders, or manam’ko. I thought that this was important, not only because Guam has high rates of diabetes or health issues, but because sometimes we forget about certain thing and need to be refreshed on the topic.
Overall, this experience took me back to my times back home and made me realize that the work the Sons & Daughters of Guam Club do to make their space a “home away from home” is truly impactful.
Ha’ani San Nicolas, 05/02/18