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Åmot Conference begins, focus is on sustainable education

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YESTERDAY was the first day of the second Åmot Conference. The Håya Cultural Heritage & Preservation Development Foundation, together with the CNMI’s Inetnon Åmot yan Kutturan Natibu organization, coordinated the three-day conference, with the first day’s activities held at the Top o’ the Mar restaurant in Nimitz Hill.

Today and tomorrow, conference activities will be held at the St. Francis School in Yoña. The conference begins each day at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.

Zita Pangelinan, the Håya Foundation’s president, said this year’s conference will focus on sustainable education and address the development of a curriculum for gardens in schools.

Speakers, including Ming Wei Koh, David V.P. Sanchez and Juanita Blaz, will address academic curriculum mapping and the integration of a sustainable garden during the conference. There will also be demonstrations by suruhånus and suruhånas – traditional Chamorro healers.

Difficulty

“In recent times, we have had great difficulty finding traditional healers or yo'amtes, also known as suruhånas or suruhånus,” Pangelinan said. This difficulty led organizers to put together the first Åmot Conference in September 2012, which focused on traditional medicine and the health threat of non-communicable diseases.

Similar issues regarding non-communicable diseases and traditional healing will be presented at this year’s conference, in addition to integrating school gardens. “We hope to promote and perpetuate our traditional healing practices,” Pangelinan said.

Participants were able to earn two conference credits or three continuing education units from the University of Guam for their participation in the event, provided they paid the additional fees and for their involvement.

The Håya Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2005. The group’s mission is to “enhance the well-being of our people.” 

The term “håya” has been interpreted as the Chamorro word for south, said Jeremy Cepeda, a Simon Sanchez High School Chamorro teacher.

“‘Håya’ actually means ‘in towards the land’ or ‘indigenous,’” Cepeda said, adding that the Håya Foundation was one of the contributors of the 4th Chamorro Conference.

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