The last language immersion excursion for kindergarten students of the Kagman Elementary School Friday morning marked the last few instances for kindergarten students as the federal funding grant for the program expires this fiscal year.
Patricia Kapileo, project director of the Leliyal Akkabwung Language Immersion Project for the Kagman Elementary School, said in an interview that this fiscal year 2019 would be the last they would receive about $236,000 annually from the Administration for Native Americans seed funding grant. According to her the Public School System matches the ANA seed funding grant by 20 percent annually.
Kapileo noted that the seed fund allowed the program to function for about three years—one year was for recruiting qualified staff and the next two years, including this year, would be for the execution of the program.
“We cater to kindergarten students,” Kapileo noted. She added that last Friday, the program brought 25 students from KES to the Saipan Aging Office for their language immersion. 15 students enrolled to the program for Chamorro and 10 for Carolinian.
“We bring them [to the Saipan Aging Office] because the activity of the project is to mingle and have our youth collaborate with our elders because they are the experts in our language on our culture,” Kapileo said, adding that they bring the children around the island as well as to different government agencies.
She noted that with the ANA grant funding expiring this year, she wishes PSS picks up with what has been started.
“This project is aimed at instilling, promoting, and sustaining our language and our culture. We would like to get [the] support…to continue the project because this is one venue that will keep our dying language and culture,” she said.
Kapileo noted that talks between the program heads and PSS had been ongoing, however nothing was reportedly set in stone yet.
“ANA brought in the seed money for three years, and we are hopeful that the PSS would pick it up from there. We also hope that…local appropriations would be allocated for some funds to really take off this project,” she said.
In a separate interview, CNMI Aging Office executive director Walter Manglona noted that the interaction between the students and the man’amko was something that promotes culture to the younger generation.
“Any kind of inter-generation type of activities that would help promote culture and teach history to the students—there is no other source that is more [proficient] than the elders that have lived through it,” Manglona said.