The Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
I Finakmatan I Hila’ta (The Awakening of the Tongue)
By Kenneth Gofigan Kuper, CPIS MA Student
“I Finakmatan I Hila’-ta” or “The Awakening of the Tongue” is a service-learning project dedicated to perpetuating the Chamorro language. Kenneth Gofigan Kuper and Brant Songsong teach Chamorro language every Saturday from 10:00–11:15 am at Kakaʻako Kitchen. Hawai‘i has a large Chamorro community and many of these Chamorros were born and raised here. These classes were started to help diasporic Chamorros connect to their roots through the language. This language class helps Chamorros to learn and speak the language of their ancestors and also serves as a social tool for Chamorros to get to know and support one another. Each week participants can meet new people and develop new friendships, thus forming a stronger sense of community. Ranging from 7 to 20 people per week, the language pocket has been successful and fun. Each class starts with a different lesson that ultimately leads to direct dialogue between the members. The lessons they learn can be used in conversation, so the pocket views each week as a building block for becoming conversational in Chamorro. Each week, an e-mail is sent out by the Marianas Club at UH Mānoa providing a vocabulary list and lesson worksheet for that week’s class. This helps people to get familiar with the concepts beforehand and also allows those who are not able to attend to keep up with the lessons. This project has been a Chamorro community collaboration and will only continue to grow as more Chamorros find out that they can learn the language free of charge!
If you would like to learn the Chamorro language also, please feel free to contact Kenneth Gofigan Kuper at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Marianas Club at Marianas@hawaii.edu. These classes are for everyone, whether Chamorro or not, and only require an open mind, pencil, and paper. We hope you will join the effort to keep the Chamorro language alive and spoken!