An ongoing project seeks to construct a permanent, highly visible cottage in Balboa Park, San Diego to promote the CHamoru culture and secure a place where the community can come and celebrate with those who come from Guam.
The vision of the House of Chamorros project is to have a public space to welcome visitors who are interested in the people, history and culture of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Recognizing the richness and multi-ethnic diversity of modern-day Guam and CNMI, the House of Chamorros also seek to be an inclusive space for non-CHamorus who have called the islands home, to re-connect them with the indigenous island spirit and culture of the Marianas.
“It is all centered in Balboa Park which is the cultural center of San Diego, where all the museums and the zoo is. It gets 14 million visitors each year. It is really a special place. In there is an area called an International Cottages. So you can go there and see House of China, House of Puerto Rico, House of Italy. For the first time in decades, they were able to expand it. We just happen to come upon the opportunity at that time and jump in,” Sandy Uslander, one of the project proponents said
The House of Chamorros cottage provides an opportunity to establish the first public and permanent structure representing the CHamoru people in San Diego, according to Judy Flores, Guam artist and one of the supporters of the project. It could also be a venue for presenting historical and cultural programs to those who visit Balboa Park each year.
“We need a physical address. We need a brick and mortar place where you can say — OK this is where we can meet. This is where we can meet our business contacts, sbowcase our culture. It will all be in a brick and mortar place. This is what we are lacking right now,” Flores said.
Flores added: “In the long run, we want everyone to utilize this. You’re going to publish a book for kids, when you come to San Diego, let’s showcase it in the house. You know, things like that. But in order to get there right now, we need fundraising. We need fundraising. We need the support of legislative funding from both CNMI and Guam. People have been very receptive but we got o meet this next challenge and get their continued support.”
Check out houseofchamorros.org for more information on how to support the project.