Tumututuhon Ta’lo

Håfa adai and aloha!

Dispensa yu for not writing sooner, I am still getting into the motion of school, work, my internship at a marine lab, independence, and having fun. I can’t really sum up my time here in Hawai’i into one feeling so far; there have been different waves of events and emotions that I got caught up in and am still swimming out of. It was hard to adjust to living in a new place with barely anyone I knew. Before leaving Guåhan, I imagined my summer would consist of exploring and adventuring beautiful Hawai’i nei, but there is only so much one can do by oneself in an unfamiliar place. To add to that, i minahålang  (the feeling of missing someone) is real. Too often I would catch myself lingering in the past, looking back at happy memories of home, missing nånan Guåhan and i mangaffå-ku, and turning away from the path laid out in front of me and all the adventures it holds. I feel that way once in a while, but by going back to the faith of i mañaina-hu, I am able to see and seize moments as they come, appreciate them, and keep moving forward.

Moving to a foreign land, another people’s home is a humbling experience. All my life, I’ve been an indigenous child of the land that loved it, knew it, and was a part of it, but now I’m an outsider. I felt like an intruder at times because Hawai’i is already overpopulated, and like Guåhan, the indigenous people are a dwindling minority. In addition, it was hard to transition from going anywhere on Guåhan and seeing your auntie or old friend, to coming to a new place where you don’t know ANYONE. As a result, for the first time in my life, I tried to fit in. I wanted to be a kama’aina (child of the land) so badly so I could connect with locals, learn their culture, and fill the voids of my loved ones back home, but in doing that, I sort of uprooted myself. I realized ti kama’aina yu. Taotao tåno yu… Hagan Guåhan yu (I am not kama’aina. I’m of [Chamoru] land… I’m a daughter of Guåhan). No, I’m not local to this land, but I do respect it and love it like I am. I am not Hawaiian, but I’m one of their Pacific primus (cousins) with similar values of family, respect, and nature. Tumututuhon yu ta’lo (I was beginning again). I had to start from the bottom once more, but by using my open mind and heart, my experiences, my culture, and my håfa adai spirit as tools, I can build my new life, place new roots, and branch out. Hopefully my Kanaka Maoli cousins come around soon, I just have to be my Chamoru self.

Aside from my sad moments, I’ve been making the most of my time here in beautiful Hawai’i nei. I have connected with many Chamorus which made me feel a little more at home. I’ve explored and learned about Hawai’i, her history, and her culture through academic sources (although learning first-hand from the perpetuators and keepers of the culture themselves is the best way to learn a culture, I had to start somewhere). I connected to the land and the ocean here, and can feel the mana (spiritual potential) all around. I also learned the art of surfing, though I’m only a beginner. I have dreamt about surfing my whole life, so I was extremely blessed to start learning in its sacred birthplace.

When times get tough and i minahålang tugs at my heart, I try to refocus on why I came out here in the first place: my mission. There are so many things to learn, adventures to go on, and experiences to undergo anywhere I go that will make me a smarter, stronger, humbler, and worldly person, more equipped to defend my island, protect my culture, and serve my people.

Mahalo no ka heluhelu

Si Yu’us ma’åse pot i tinaitai-miyu

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