Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dicktracy, Robinhood, and Rambo

I gave an assignment for my students to do a genogram (like a family tree). This was not an easy task given the traditionally very large families from which these students come. Nevertheless, they were to look for dysfunctional patterns within their genograms and to identify them (e.g. alcoholism, spousal abuse, incest, suicide, etc.). We discussed the Scripture, "The sins of the fathers are passed down through the generations," and talked about how difficult it is to break these dysfunctional family patterns. As I was evaluating their genograms I was enthralled with the names I read. Having attained the permission of my students to put these names on our blog, I present to you some of the uniquely Micronesian names: Relax, Rest, Ready, R-last, K-Ness, Praise, Snopia, Praiselyn, Free-Viann, Kimbo, Missio, Given, Second, and Season. Here are three names that show a definite Western influence: Dicktracy, Rambo, and Robinhood. However, I must hand first place to this family, who in spite of having nine children, somehow managed to find nine names all beginning with the letter "T": Tarus Jr., Tarsio, Tario, Tarlin, Tana, Tarie, Tarakie, Taratar, Tariky. Wow!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cultural Values

All cultures have values they hold in common. Americans are known to value independence, hard-work, privacy and the family. What are Micronesian values? This question was posed and answered in an assignment for my counseling class, and I thought our blog readers would find the answers quite interesting. Each student was to record three cultural values. I have consolidated them and placed them in order from the most agreed upon answer to the least.

8 Citations
Relationships: (family and people)

6 Citations
Culture--customs and traditions

5 Citations
First born--(e.g. "In our family, if I am the youngest, I would have to do what the older sister told me to do because she is the oldest.")

4 Citations

3 Citations
-Family reputation: (e.g. "We don't represent an individual but by family name/clan," and "Honor and respect family name.")

2 Citations
-Hospitality: (e.g. "Meeting other people's needs more than our own.")

1 Citation
-Church activities
-Family meetings
-Identity (e.g. "Who am I.")
-People (e.g. "Elders, brothers, or men are valued more than women."--Chuukese)
-"People work together and help one another--not independent!!")
-People who have a position in the church or in the government
-The Missing One (e.g. "If someone passed away in our family, it's very important to do the anniversary about the person that just passed away.")
-Staying with parents
-Status as an independent nation (Palau)

Monday, April 14, 2008

100 Feet Under

If you know me well enough, you won't be surprised
to hear that there was no way I was going to miss a free birthday dive offered by our local dive shop! Karyn and I dropped a hundred feet down to visit the Tokai Maru, a Japanese freighter that wandered into the Apra Harbor here on Guam toward the end of WWII; a few torpedoes later it became a dive site for people like us. The unique thing about this site is that a WWI German ship lays perpendicular to it, having met the same fate about thirty years prior. It's the only spot in the world where you can touch two wrecks from two different wars at the same time, in 83 degree water to boot. Here are three pictures to enjoy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Height Advantage

Interestingly, Christian's friends tend not to be his fellow high school classmates but rather the college students at PIBC. These friendships have been forged primarily through his inclusion in PIBC's inter-mural basketball. I guess the fact that Christian is a half inch away from being six feet five inches made him a highly sought after commodity for the teams. An additional benefit to having Christian on your team is he has been known to be the half-time entertainment. The Micronesian students think it is wonderfully entertaining to watch 16-year-old Christian attempt to "slam dunk." His lanky leaps and valiant vaults are met with loud cheers and boisterous bellows. Because of the basketball season, Christian has made some wonderful friends. One of these friends is Keiny, the president of the PIBC student counsel. Soft-spoken and always smiling, Keiny is one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet.

So, during Easter break, with the goal of unwinding in mind, Christian packed the car with snorkeling fins, boots, masks, and snorkels, and after picking Keiny up at the college, headed for Ypau ("e-pow") Beach. Arriving at Ypau, Christian began to remove the snorkeling equipment for Keiny and himself, to which Keiny shook his head. Although Christian and Keiny shared similar views about how one should play basketball, when it came to relaxing, their ideas were quite different. Keiny, as it seems is true for Micronesians in general, preferred to sit in a chair and relax as o
pposed to swim or snorkel in the gorgeous 83 degree water. And so, Christian contentedly observed the kaleidoscope of bright iridescent fish passing under his snorkeling mask as Keiny lounged in a beach chair contentedly regarding the Philippine Sea.


Christian, our 16 year-old son, has been quite the trooper in our move to Guam. Our relocation has created a LOT of changes for him. First, he had to leave the Christian high school that he loved, along with the close friends he had been in school with since 6th grade. Once on Guam, he was placed in a private Christian high school where the vast majority of the students were Chamorro (the native people group here). This presented a distinct cultural change, but Christian lived up to the needed adjustments. Unfortunately, after a semester, it became apparent that this school lacked the academic challenge that Christian needed. So, once again, we needed to make other educational arrangements for him. But it appeared there were no viable options on Guam. The only school on the island that would be a good academic fit for Christian's particular needs was absolutely out of the question for us financially. We came to the sad conclusion that we would have to send Christian back to California to live with his grandparents where he could commute to his former high school. However, before making this drastic decision, we decided to take a leap of faith. We would call the elite college preparatory high school on Guam and ask if they could give Christian a scholarship, trusting that God would provide the means for him to attend this school if it was His will for him to remain on Guam. After testing Christian for several hours, St. Johns was pleased with what they saw and offered Christian an INCREDIBLE scholarship. We were amazed that God provided the means for Christian to attend a school that we never imaged one of our children being able to attend. Although we were thrilled with this wonderful opportunity, it did represent yet another transition for Christian. This time, the transition was one of connecting with students of mostly Asian descent, from the "upper crust," and students extremely serious about their education. EVERY St. John's graduate is accepted into a college, with a significant number accepted in America's top universities, such as Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, etc. St. John's students average in the top 20% on national scholastic achievement tests, with an average College Board SAT entrance exam of 1260. One out of every 10 of St. John's graduates over the past 14 years has been a National Merit Scholarship Finalist or Semi-Finalist! And so, Christian's days have been filled with non-stop studying including needed tutoring for his international math class.

It appears, however, that history is not as tough for Christian as math. For his Guam history class, Christian submitted a paper about the plight of the few Americans living on Guam when Japan took the island the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. He didn't fully realize it from the start, but all class papers were submitted to a school-wide Guam history competition, the winner of which would be submitted to the island-wide competition, the winner of which would be subsequently submitted to the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland. The look on his face indicated his genuine surprise when he announced to us that he had won the school-wide competition and that his paper was St. John's contribution to the island-wide competition. Thoughts about Washington DC this coming summer began to dance in his head, only to be met with the instant reality check that no new-resident haolie (white) kid could possibly win against Guam's native competition. Thus, toward the end of his Easter break, his jaw hit the floor when he read an email congratulating him on winning first place in the Guam National History Day competition. So, maybe international math is a struggle, but history is another
story; a story still being written with the next chapter featuring an all expense paid trip to the East Coast in mid-June. Congratulations Christian!