This past week’s events have been months in the making. From planning sessions, to Skype calls, to countless email exchanges, there have been so many forces at work to make this workshop a reality. For that, I must express my deepest and sincerest gratitude to the Northern Marianas Humanities Council for their continuous support of our vision. I cannot thank them enough.
Coming in to this, Kathy and I really wanted to engage deeply on issues of place and identity with the participants of this workshop. We were surprised how naturally this process was for everybody. From the very first day, we dove into a space of great vulnerability and stayed there throughout the week. This takes incredible courage.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in doing this work, it’s to never discount the value of courage it takes to simply show up and speak out.
Finally, let me take a moment to thank Pete and Emma Perez of 500 Sails. Not just for their willingness to work with us, but for their vision. I’ve known these two from a previous adventure to Pägan and have admired their commitment to the Chamorro story ever since. I say “story” because it is something that I see constantly unfolding before my eyes. The past has been viewed largely through the lenses of colonization and war. But the future of the Northern Marianas story is being written by the countless passionate community members I’ve spoken with who have a bright vision for what the CNMI could be. For Pete and Emma, that vision includes a horizon full of canoes – magnificent flying proas silhouetted against that radiant Saipan sunset.
This is a story that I wish to read someday. Moreover, it is a story that these young storytellers are entrusted to write and I’m certain they’ll make us all proud. I hope you enjoy this collection of poetry and stories from the of CNMI Storytellers. It was such a privilege to work with these talented and courageous individuals.
Director, Pacific Storytellers Cooperative