Migrants’ children more assimilated

Written by Oyaol Ngirairikl | 6:00 PM, May. 25, 2011


Simon Sanchez High School sophomore T’Nelta Mori doesn’t understand how she’s supposed to look. Or talk.

“When people find out I’m Chuukese, they tell me I don’t look Chuukese or I don’t talk like I’m Chuukese,” she said. “I always wondered what that means. Not all Chuukese people talk with an accent or prefer to wear the customary skirt.”

Mori, president of the Simon Sanchez High School’s Sophomore Class Council and an “A” honor roll student, is among the hundreds of first- and second-generation Chuukese Americans who help make Guam’s public schools, malls and parks thrive with youth activities.

These are the children or grandchildren of migrants who, educators said, are westernized, and talk and blend in with the tens of thousands of Chamorros, Filipinos, and other people of different heritage who make Guam a culturally rich home.

“These are the ones we don’t have to worry about because they grew up in the western culture — they understand the rules and requirements at school and the laws of the community,” said Gayleen Cruz, George Washington High School assistant principal of discipline.

Deison Kusto is an 18-year-old senior at George Washington High and the first Chuukese student to become the battalion executive officer, the second highest in command in his JROTC program. He’ll graduate in a few weeks with the rank of cadet lieutenant colonel — also the first Chuukese to reach that rank at the school.

“I worked hard to get where I am today,” he said.

Both Kusto and Mori said they strive to be good examples as “Micronesian” youths to prove to people that they are smart, hardworking and are more than capable of being positive members of the community.

“I’m not a burden to the community,” Kusto said. “At least I don’t think so.”

And yet, when local agencies compile numbers for federal reports to quantify the number of people from the freely associated states who could be burdening the government of Guam and the local community, all FAS persons are counted.

“It’s a complex formula,” said Sen. Frank Blas Jr., who has noted that FAS migrants who’ve settled down on Guam have cost the local government hundreds of millions of dollars for the cost of providing the newcomers with education, safety and health services.

Federal officials are trying to determine exactly how various U.S. jurisdictions are calculating the impact FAS migrants have on the local government. Officials visiting Guam in February said another facet to the equation are migrants who have come to Guam, pay taxes and contribute to the community.

In a May 12 letter, Guam’s Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and eight U.S. lawmakers said they want the Department of State and Department of the Interior to help determine the cost of hosting FAS migrants.

Blas said that request only illustrates how badly the U.S. government has handled the issue of FAS migration.

“This is the question that should have been asked in 1986 when the U.S. entered into treaties with the FAS governments,” Blas said. “There was a whole discussion many years ago, U.S. immigration officials were told they have to keep track of the migrants… and see if migrants were here for the purposes allowed for the compact, or if they were here as burdens to the community.

“They said they didn’t have the resources to do it. And so that job was never done,” Blas said.

The regional migrants are allowed to enter the United States for jobs or to study.

Explore posts in the same categories: Education in Micronesia

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