A new concentration at UOG is training future CHamoru teachers
By Laura Pangelinan
When the University of Guam was founded in 1952, speaking CHamoru was still banned in schools and could only be used for official interpreting. It wasn’t until the ban was lifted in the mid-1970s that students were allowed to practice fino’ CHamoru in the classroom. Today, the University is full of Tritons committed to learning, practicing, and revitalizing the CHamoru language and culture.
Throughout the years, UOG has continuously worked to enhance its CHamoru Studies program. What started as a minor in 2010 has since evolved into a full degree program — the Bachelor of Arts in CHamoru Studies. And as of 2020, the program has a track specifically designed for future educators.
“There has been a growing interest in the community for promoting and instilling cultural values through public education,” said James Sellmann, dean of UOG’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
This has been evident among not only individual UOG students wanting to perpetuate the language and culture in their eventual careers, but in parents wanting their cultural heritage incorporated into their children’s learning. At present, the Guam Department of Education has 10 vacancies for CHamoru language and culture teachers.
In response to this demand, the CHamoru Studies for Education track aims to prepare students for careers in teaching the CHamoru language and culture in the public school system. Following degree completion, graduates will gain full certification to teach in accordance with Guam Public Law 31-50.
According to the University’s enrollment reports, interest in the education track quickly doubled since its inaugural launch in 2020.
Sophomore Chauntae Quichocho said she saw the new track as an opportunity to bridge two passions — fino’ CHamoru and teaching the island’s youth.
“When they launched this track, I switched my major because I knew this was the path I needed to take. I hope to teach the CHamoru language and culture at an elementary school,” Quichocho said. “We need to protect and sustain our language and culture, but we cannot do that if we do not teach the children.”
Sophomore Luke Tedtaotao, a CHamoru language and culture teacher at George Washington High School, said he enrolled in the program to advance his knowledge of the CHamoru language to educate his students better.
“I learned more in-depth about the history and culture through the Intro to CHamoru Studies course. My upper-division language courses reinforce what I know, and my professors have supported me in areas I struggle with,” Tedtaotao said. “I hope to continue my work in the education system and help young CHamoru people realize the importance of knowing their indigenous heritage the way my teachers inspired me.”
In 2020, UOG also launched the CHamoru Studies Certification Program through the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The certificate is a means for non-degree seeking community members to obtain training in the CHamoru language and culture, whether for personal or professional enrichment.
“This program provides students with an opportunity to gain exposure to language, culture, history, and political development that enhances the island community’s language and culture revitalization efforts,” said Kisha Borja-Quichocho-Calvo, assistant professor and program coordinator of the CHamoru Studies program.
Degree-seeking students of any major can also pursue the CHamoru Studies Certificate in addition to their major.
Study CHamoru at UOG toward a bachelor’s degree, a minor, or a certificate (17 credits), or take individual classes for personal or professional enrichment. Visit the online UOG Catalog to learn more about the learning options through the CHamoru Studies program, or contact the program coordinator, Assistant Professor Kisha Borja-Quichocho-Calvo at firstname.lastname@example.org.