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Bookshelf: ‘All those stories had to be written’

By Johanna Salinas

Dr. Laura Souder’s re-publication of “Daughters of the Island: CHamoru Women Organizers of Guahan and Other Writings” is more than just an ode to CHamoru womanhood. This updated text is a reminder for Chamoritas to perpetuate the values carried on by their mothers and grandmothers.

“My best advice to young Chamoritas who want to embrace their culture is to learn about our values and to practice in everyday life,” Souder said. “Values like inafa’maolek means to care for the well-being of others, for the well-being of the community. Yes, and ina’guaiya is to love everybody even if we don't like them, to respect people. So learn about our values and practice them."

Language is another important thing to remember. "Very important," Souder said. "Learning the CHamoru language teaches us about the values, the wisdom of our ancestors. That's very critical.”

Millennial and Gen Z Chamoritas have voiced their appreciation for “Daughters of the Island.” Souder’s editor, Desiree Ventura mentioned seeing posts and skits of Chamoritas on Instagram praising Souder’s essay collection.

The book re-launch, which was held March 24 at Souder’s alma mater, Academy of Our Lady of Guam, was attended by local readers. Geraldine Torres Guiterrez and Annie Pangelinan Roberto, two of the women Souder interviewed 40 years ago, attended the event with their families.

“This story just scratches the surface,” Souder said. “What I tried to do was piece together the story of our past and include women in storytelling. I captured a moment in our history in the 1980s when CHamoru women were active as organizers. The stories of after-the-80s and prior— all those stories— had to be written.”

The newer edition of “Daughters of the Island” includes new essays that mix with those in the original publication. Souder is proud of the updated collection and is hopeful newer readers will be inspired to record their own stories.

“My call to action for CHamoru men and women and people of Guam is to continue documenting our story,” she said. “Our story is important. We need to pass it down to future generations. If we don’t do due diligence, our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren won’t know who we are. It's important that we do the necessary work that our story is told.”

“Daughters of the Island” is available at Bestseller.


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