Guam- The annual “Inacha’igen Fino’ Chamoru” or Chamorro Language Competition is set for Monday, March 11 and Tuesday, March 12 at the University of Guam. For over 15 years, it has been an outlet for students to demonstrate different ways in celebrating the unique language and culture of the Chamorro people.
About 650 students and 70 teachers and coaches from 11 elementary schools, 5 middle schools and 6 high schools will be competing in the event. Although the CNMI won’t be as present as previous years due to financial reasons, the Marianas High School Chamorro Club in Saipan will be competing.
Coordinator Rosa Palomo says they are keeping with a two day competition format rather than cramming everything into one day.
The individual competitions on Monday include spelling, storytelling, poetry and reading comprehension. She notes the spelling bee portion usually draws the most number of spectators. The event then moves to the UOG Field House on Tuesday, which also ties into the university’s Charter Day activities. The all day affair will feature chanting, dancing, singing and drama competitions.
Although Palomo says everything is exciting to watch, she admits she has a soft spot for the children’s choir portion.
Palomo adds the event is UOG’s way of giving back to the community with the help of their sponsors. While many people believe efforts to keep the Chamorro language alive are not where they want it to be, she emphasizes what’s great about the program is they give the younger generations the ability to start learning it somewhere.
“Yes, many people talk about, you know, the language is slowly fading away or what are the students learning” said Palomo. “It’s very difficult to mention what is being learned when there are so many factors that really go against sound educational practices. But yet we have this to highlight, even if it’s once a year, some things that they are doing in the classroom and both teachers and students and principals are participating.”
She also says they are planning to incorporate Kantan Chamorrita into the program in 2014.
The Chamorro Language Competition is also still in need of about $5,000 to cover all expenses. Anyone that can help is asked to call (671) 735-2193.