Humanities Make Us


Hafa adai and Welcome to the Guam Humanities Council’s new website and, more importantly, our organizational transition to Humanities Guåhan. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of this great organization, we want to best reflect the humanities work carried out by the Council over the past ten years, as well as chart our future direction. This work privileges the importance of understanding and preserving indigenous cultures and histories, with a particular emphasis on the role of Chamorro cultural identity in maintaining Guam’s unique way of life. Thus, the incorporation of the Chamorro term for our island, Guåhan, and the more prominent use of Tinaotao, “Peoplehood,” in our logo, which is fundamentally what the humanities are all about. Therefore, through our various programs and projects, we also promote greater awareness and appreciation of the rich historical, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity of all people that make up the Guåhan community.

As you will note in browsing our website, the diverse programming that has been offered by Humanities Guåhan since 2006 largely focuses on important and timely issues facing our island in relation to the U.S., whether they be political, social or environmental, and in the context of the larger Pacific Islands region. In 2006, Humanities Guåhan brought the preeminent Samoan writer and scholar Albert Wendt to Guam as part of Writing The Pacific to promote awareness of Pacific literature and the role of Chamorro storytelling in this literature. This was followed in 2009 by the project Dance and Identity in the Pacific, which featured the internationally recognized Aotearoa/New Zealand dance company Black Grace, and sought to acknowledge and support the role of Chamorro dance in the preservation of indigenous culture and identity. For the past fourteen years, Humanities Guåhan has also assisted in building a culture of literacy in our island community among the most vulnerable of our residents through the nationally recognized Motheread family literacy program.
A few important highlights from 2007-2013 include the presentation of several multiyear, multifaceted projects focused on important and oftentimes contentious public policy issues, such as the U.S. military expansion in Guam and how to best discuss this expansion through conversation and literature; the migration of islanders from other parts of Micronesia to Guam to address issues of identity and belonging for these communities in their new island home; and ecological literacy in Guam to engage residents in exploring the important connections between food, health, culture and the environment in order to better “grow” democracy on our island. Humanities Guåhan has also built a very robust exhibition program over the past ten years, much of which has been in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Museum on Main Street Program (MoMS).
In turning 25, Humanities Guåhan promises to continue to offer public humanities programs that are not only engaging, informative and educational, but also creative, entertaining and fun! Beginning later this month, we are embarking on an exciting co-collecting project of contemporary Chamorro material culture with the distinguished Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. We are expanding our Motheread program to serve more adult members of our community through new partnerships with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guam and WestCare Pacific Islands.  In September, through a prestigious collaboration with The Pulitzer Prizes as part of their Centennial Campfires Initiative, our organization will curate and present an interpretive retrospective exhibition with programs of multimedia photojournalist Manny Crisostomo, who is Guam’s only Pulitzer Prize winner.  We will also offer a series of film/reading and discussion events, along with the launch of an online exhibit of the oral history project, Guam Women Warriors, the focus of which are the stories, perspectives and voices of active duty servicewoman and women veterans.
In 2017, Humanities Guåhan will host our fifth SITES MoMS exhibit, Water/Ways, and develop a Guam-focused companion exhibit exploring the significant role water plays in our island community historically, culturally, spiritually and environmentally, particularly for the Chamorro people. With important grant support from the Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, we will also launch a year and a half long youth-focused cultural and environmental sustainability project, Taking Root– Growing Youth Empowerment for Island Sustainability.
So we have much to look forward to in expanding the depth and reach of the humanities as an organization and community in 2016 and beyond. All of the work of Humanities Guåhan is based on the fundamental belief that HUMANITIES MAKE US. 
HUMANITIES MAKE US discover who we are as individuals, citizens and members of the Guam community. HUMANITIES MAKE US connect to one another and the larger world around us. HUMANITIES MAKE US engage with issues that are important to our island and region, and to see them through new perspectives, inspiring ideas and critical lenses. HUMANITIES MAKE US curious about history, culture, the arts, language, literature, cultural and ethnic diversity and more! As one of my esteemed colleagues recently stated, “Humanities truly Make a Difference in our society.” We hope you will join us as we strive to make the humanities an important part of our everyday lives because they do make a difference!
Thank you for your continued support of Humanities Guåhan through your invaluable sponsorship and participation. We look forward to an exciting humanities-filled year ahead!
Si Yu’os Ma’ase, 

 Kimberlee Kihleng, Executive Director