Friday, January 15, 2010

Guam Through a Ten-Year-Old's Eyes

Our daughter, Noelle, received a traveling journal from a student in Hawaii.  Her instructions were to write about the area where she lives and to send it on to the next person on the list (a student from Japan).  We thought our readers would enjoy reading some interesting facts about Micronesia from Noelle's perspective.


Hafa Adai (Hi)!
My name is Noelle Sorenson, I am ten years old and I'm in 5th grade. I am homeschooled. My parents are missionary professors in Guam (a U.S. territory) where they work at a college that is mostly for Micronesians. Micronesians are people who live among the 2000 islands above the equator, north of Australia. Although the islands in that area are very tiny, the area itself is huge. It is the same size as the continental U.S! I have two cats named TJ and Tasi (pronounced "Tossee") which means "ocean" in Chamorro. Chamorro is the language of the native people of Guam. Mostly people speak English here; however, the older people will speak Chamorro to each other.

My favorite sport is soccer, but I like all sports, except baseball. I'm not the kind of person who sits around and does nothing. I would rather go outside and climb a palm tree! I love swimming in the ocean ,which has an average water temperature of 80 degrees (compared to Hawaii's average water temp of 75). Guam has a reef that nearly surrounds the island. Our family loves to snorkel along the reef where there are almost 900 species of fish (Hawaii has about 600 species in their reef system, and Palau has over 1300!). It is especially exciting when we see a beautiful lion fish which is one of the most poisonous fish in the world. Guam is 210 miles south-west of the Mariana Trench which is 36,201 feet deep. The Trench is the deepest part of the ocean and the deepest place on Earth. When I studied oceans in homeschool, I studied some of the amazing creatures that live in the deep oceans. They are very strange-looking and fun to study. Here is some other interesting information about the Mariana Trench:

The deepest point of the Mariana Trench is called The Challenger Deep, so named after the British exploration vessel HMS Challenger II, and it is located 210 miles south-west of Guam. This depth was reached in 1960 by the Trieste, a manned submersible owned by the U.S. Navy.

 

In order to better illustrate the actual depth of the Mariana Trench, consider the following; if Mount Everest, which is the tallest point on earth at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet), were set in the Mariana Trench, there would still be 2,183 meters (7,166 feet) of water left above it. http://www.marianatrench.com/mariana_trench-oceanography.htm

Guam is a rain forest and so we get a LOT of rain. On average, we get 96" of rain a year (compared to Honolulu's average of 28.41"). It is always hot and humid here because we are only 13 degrees away from the equator. This also means that the sun goes down very early (around 6:00 p.m.). Last week we had to put up our typhoon shutters because we were told a typhoon was coming. Guam is located in what is called, "Typhoon Alley." It is common for our island to be threatened by tropical storms and typhoons. Because of the typhoons and severe weather, most of the houses on Guam are made out of solid concrete. Even the roofs are made of concrete! They are more like military bunkers than houses. Even the telephone poles are made of cement and steel because normal telephone poles will snap during typhoons. One typhoon that came here a few years ago had winds of 236 miles per hour.

During World War II, Guam was captured by the Japanese and the native people experienced forced labor, family separation, execution, concentration camps, and other horrible things. On July 21, 1944, the United States military fought the Battle of Guam and recaptured the island from the Japanese. Every July 21 we have a huge parade with lots of fiestas (parties with huge amounts of food) and fireworks at night. It's a very fun day. But, without a doubt, my favorite thing about living on Guam is the incredible ocean.