Being Micronesian on Guam

After leaving Ft. Riley, KS. and the active U.S. Army in the 1990s, I moved to Oregon. I lived there for nearly 10 years before I came back to Micronesia.

I truly fell in love with winter in Oregon. I lived in Salem, Gresham and Portland — in that order. Each has a unique feature that touched my heart and left very special memories.

While there though, I heard many off-colored jokes among friends and co-workers about illegal aliens from Mexico. This was at the height of Mexicans “floating” across the borders into Oregon and Washington State, in search of a “better life.” They worked all kinds of low-paying entry level jobs, such as collecting trash, cleaning offices and farming.

When I came to Guam and started listening to the conversations among my own people from the Federated States of Micronesia, especially those from Chuuk, I felt having a déjà vu. I was hearing — all over again— the same concerns and challenges experienced by the Mexicans in Oregon. I heard demeaning jokes about Chuukese on Chris “Malafunkshun” Barnett’s talk show on Hit Radio 100.

Like the Micronesians here, the Hispanics in the states sought a better life, better jobs, better education and medical assistance. A U.S.-born Mexican friend, with whom I first connected on the basketball court, told me his family crossed the border for the same reasons others before them did. They would later obtain a legal status, then put my friend through school.

The more I thought about the plight of the Mexicans in U.S., the more I realized the parallelism between their stories and my own people’s.

I learned about the Palauans and Filipinos on Guam in the 70s. All were new to the island at some point, and were treated, to an extent, the same way as my people and the Mexicans in their new found lands.