The celebration of the Chamorro and Carolinian Cultural Heritage Month is in full swing, especially for the youth, with Joeten-Kiyu Public Library hosting a special Read Aloud as well as an arts and crafts activity for children last Saturday, Sept. 21, at the JKPL Children’s Room.
Read Aloud parent Anthony S. Michael, who was a special guest from the Carolinian community, read the book Unu Dos Tres/Éét, r,úúw, éél, which is about counting in Carolinian, while children’s librarian Rosalinda Ulloa read Håfa Un A’atan?, a Chamorro book that translates as, “What are you looking at?”
Part of JKPL’s mission is to promote literacy, especially the indigenous languages. The CNMI has two—Chamorro and Carolinian—and the library makes available free language learning resources related to both.
“It is very important to keep our language resources alive, and we are happy to promote Chamorro and Carolinian languages here,” said JKPL technical services librarian Beth Demapan. “While both languages are taught in schools, the library also serves as an additional resource for families who do not have basic Chamorro or Carolinian knowledge. They can come to the library.”
Aside from the special Read Aloud, the children also had a mwarmwar arts and crafts session. Music group Southern Warriors also serenaded the library-goers with traditional music and held a mini-local dance tutorial, to the delight of the children.
Kaylee Heath, with husband Brandon and their two children, who moved to the island from Washington state, participated in the Read Aloud, the mwarmwar making, and gamely joined the dance tutorial.
Heath said they are making that special effort to expose their children to local culture. “I feel like it’s our job to learn about it so that we can respect it and understand people,” Heath said. “I think it’s important for my kids to be exposed to all sorts of different kinds of cultures because we just have one worldview, and I feel like we are really limited. The more things that we do to understand different people, the more open we become to new ideas.”
With children from different countries and different backgrounds coming in the library, JKPL is able to promote the local languages to different cultures.
“This gives them [children and their parents] an appreciation of the native inhabitants of Saipan,” Demapan said.