INACHA’IGEN FINO’ CHAMORU 2023
CNMI wins 38 medals in Guam CHamoru competition
The CNMI delegation won 13 gold medals, another 13 silver medals, and 12 bronze medals at the CHamoru Language Competition, called Inacha’igen Fino’ CHamoru, that was held at the University of Guam on March 13-14.
This year’s delegation from the CNMI—composed of 208 students from Saipan, Tinian, Rota—brought home a total of 38 medals, showcasing their proficiency, knowledge, creative expression, and artistry of the CHamoru language, visual, and performing arts.
Hundreds of students from Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam gathered at the UOG for the competition, which had the theme, I Fino’ CHamoru: Gi Minenhalom Taotao Tåno gi Inabiban Hinemlo’ yan Gråsia (The CHamoru Language: Through the Wisdom of the Indigenous People in Praising Healing and Grace).
This year’s delegation from the CNMI was the largest in the history of the competition and were accompanied by 50 teachers, coaches, and chaperones from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. It was also the return of the first face-to-face competition since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.
A delegation of 18 Marianas High School students showed their dedication and determination by balancing daily practices with their schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and personal lives.
Guided by longtime POLKSAI Chamorro Club advisers and husband-and-wife educator team, Anita and Alvin Sablan, CCLHS educator and POLKSAI co-adviser Candice Muña, and Guma Må’gas Luis John “LJ” Castro, students practiced every morning before class, during lunch hour, after school, every Tuesday and Thursday evening and every Saturday for over two months.
Three students lost their grandparents within a month before the competition, yet these students were encouraged to not give up with the support of their families, classmates, teachers, coaches, and school administrators.
Despite the struggles, these students persisted and continued to show up for practice. Ultimately, the MHS students dominated the high school categories in Guam, garnering a total of seven medals across six categories.
“The dedication that we all put in throughout this whole preparation for the competition shows how much we are trying to keep our language alive,” said Tyler Sasamoto, a freshman at MHS.
Mandy Tenorio, a senior, added, “And our hard work really paid off.”
Muña said the student’s performances truly reflects the dedication of the entire community to keeping the Chamorro language and culture alive. She said all students who participated in this competition also brought home pride and joy to their families, schools, the CNMI Public School System, the Chamorro and Carolinian Language & Heritage Studies Department, and the entire Commonwealth.
Forty Hopwood Middle School students represented the largest CNMI school delegation in the competition. They, were led by CCLHS educator Donald Mendiola, Vic Cabrera, and Rebecca Sablan.
Besides MHS and Hopwood, the CNMI delegation also included students from Kagman High School, Hopwood Middle School, Francisco M. Sablan Middle School, Tanapag Middle School, San Vicente Elementary School, Sinapalo Elementary School, Tinian Jr. Sr. High School, Tinian Elementary School, Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School, Kagman High School, Kagman Elementary School, Koblerville Elementary School, Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Jr. Sr. High School, and Chacha Ocean View Middle School.
Angelina Fitial, a CCLHS teacher at Tinian Elementary School, said that 2023 was a year to celebrate the accomplishments of the CNMI in keeping the Chamorro language and heritage alive.
“This year was the best year for all CNMI students. Everyone was a winner. Standing up in front of everyone was pretty tough but they did it,” she said. (PR)