AGANA, GU — Chief Huråo Academy is a local non-profit organization working to perpetuate the Chamoru language and culture.
Founded in 2005, the academy is considered as Guam’s first “full-immersion” Chamoru language program. Its mission is to promote the culture in honor of the past, for present and future generations.
Frankie Quichocho Casil II, known as “Saina Ma’åse’,” is the program coordinator and administrator assistant at Chief Huråo Academy. Casil has been part of the program for about three years.
“Huråo is like your Nånan Biha’s house,” Casil said. “It is a safe place to speak Chamoru regardless if whether you might be wrong, a place that makes you feel like you belong, a place to gain wisdom and a place full of love.”
In support of their mission to promote the Chamoru language, Chief Huråo Academy administers various programs. ”Tiempon Somnak” is offered during the summer, “Tiempon Minagof,” is an after-school program, and the recently established “Cho’gue Ha’” adult immersion program.
“Cho’gue Ha’,” meaning “Just Do It,” is a weekly language class intended for adults who have the energy and passion for learning, and who want to rediscover their Chamoru roots.
Erisa Cristobal is one of many students enrolled in Cho’gue Ha. Cristobal has been with Chief Huråo Academy since July 2017 and she hopes to further improve her Chamoru language proficiency. To Cristobal, Huråo provides the familial environment, enthusiasm, and encouragement to live through and protect the Chamoru language for future generations.
Cristobal also enrolled her two daughters in Tiempon Minagof, which is a daily after-school program offered at Huråo for children ages 3-11. For a full year, children are learning the Chamoru history, language, and values and are given the necessary tools to also practice at home.
“The decision for our children to speak Chamoru was always a goal for our family, and Huråo was the tool for us,” Cristobal said. “We learn from the girls, and they learn from us – it is a deep personal journey we are taking together to keep the Chamoru perspective alive in our home.”
“My identity and my life”
Ha’ani San Nicolas, 20, is an Ethnic Studies and Human Biology double major at the University of California San Diego. She attended Huråo for its first Tiempon Somnak session during the summer of 2005 and continued for the next 5-6 years.
When she relocated to the mainland for college, she began to realize the immense influence the Chamoru language had on her life.
“When I started meeting people that were either ignorant or uneducated about the culture of Pacific Islands, moreover, that of the Chamoru people, I began to teach them using lessons from Huråo that I learned so many years ago,” San Nicolas said.
Beginning her journey in the ethnic studies field, San Nicolas feels that if it were not for Huråo, she would not be where she is today.
“Huråo was not just an institution; it was a stepping stone for me to reconnect with my identity and ultimately guided me toward my future,” San Nicolas said.
“It is so beautiful to see now, as an adult, that Huråo is still continuing to educate these children, and has also remained resilient throughout the years,” San Nicolas said.
“Our culture is resilient, our land is resilient, and our people are resilient.”
For additional information, you may visit their location at the Chamoru Village in Hagåtña, visit their website at www.huraoacademy.com or contact them at (671) 472- 5858 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.