Task Forces

Years ago, if I used words like “colony,” “self determination,” or “colonization,” in my classroom, students would stare back with blank eyes. The words were foreign to them and it took a lot of work and patience to get them to think about or even be brave enough to say what they thought about out loud. Today, there was been a definite shift. When I say the words, students, even some fresh out of high school, will raise their hands and contribute to the discussion. There are many nodding heads when issues are discussed. They don’t all agree; not all of them think it’s important…but they know what it is.
When I listen to the children in my family talk, even their consciousness seems to be evolving. They make distinctions about Guam and America, they clarify things, and seem to value and take pride in being from here very much. I don’t involve myself in the arguments of the kids around me; but I will say that as a child, when people told me the Chamoru language wasn’t important and that there were no chamorus anymore, I would not know how to respond. I would get quiet, not knowing how to argue with an adult. This is not the case anymore. Quite a few of our kids will not tolerate being told their language is unimportant and that they don’t exist. 
This is the result of a lot of love, pushing, patience by generations before to plant seeds in the minds of future generations. And now, our island has approached a point in its history that is both scary and exciting. Julian Aguon just argued, very powerfully, for the native right to vote; there are teachers in both secondary and post secondary schools organizing teach-ins and discussion panels, and meetings are popping up across the island to discuss this thing called “self determination.”
I welcome the information and work of all government tasks forces given the chore of educating the community. With little funding they’ve been asked to prepare our entire island for a huge decision to determine our island’s future. It’s incredibly important that everyone, even if they don’t agree, understand what we’re doing and know the consequences of their choices. I have only heard or received information from ONE task force (independence). I have only seen one task force enter our schools (independence). Only one group has Facebook and IG pages set up to help community members, like me, who cannot always get to their small meetings to learn, understand the points of their arguments. 
Resources are thin, but they’re making it happen and I’m amazed by it. The governor’s office is hosting meetings about self determination. I found out about them the night of the meeting on fb when a candidate running for office announced that she went, and not many people were there. This meeting was not an independence task force one, but word spread that they were the only task force there that was ready, organized, and coherent. This made me think about how lots of people on the island are terrified of independence because it will leave the island in a state of chaos. But when I look at the chaos and confusion with the planning of this government run education campaign, the chaos and confusion does not originate or even effect the ability of the independence task force to show up and be effective. 
Like many on island, I don’t even know when the governor’s office is having their next meeting. They aren’t advertised very well and if you aren’t part of activists circles, it’s hard to find out about them. But I’m curious to find out when my village will have one and hope to be there. I hope that my students from their villages are being reached about the meetings. I hope these meetings become more than a place for senatorial candidates to take pictures and be seen near community workers. 
I also hope that if the governor’s office really wants to educate the community, they put more thought into the way they reach out to the public. An announcement on letterhead is not the best way to fill those empty chairs. The time you schedule a meeting matters. The place you schedule it matters. Otherwise, you will end up with an empty room. I sometimes wonder if the haphazard way things are advertised or organized is intentional. Do they not want us to come? Do they not want us to really understand these things? I don’t know. But if the desire to educate is sincere, they might want to take a few pages out of the independence task force’s book. 

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