Transplanted Guamanian promotes her culture in Washington - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Transplanted Guamanian promotes her culture in Washington

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 by Isa Baza

Guam - As we Celebrate Guam History and Chamorro Heritage Day here on island, many Chamorros around the globe continue to do their part to perpetuate the Chamorro culture. Keandra McDonald is high school student living in the mainland, who has done just that and more.

"Kiki" McDonald is a junior at Scualicum High School in Washington State, a young girl proving to people everywhere just how strong and unique the Chamorro culture is. After moving to Washington State from Guam in 2012, Kiki realized she was the only student at her school from Guam, making her a less than 1% minority among the 78% Caucasian and 16 percent Hispanic student population. Despite this she made a bid for vice president of her freshman class council, using her unique heritage to differentiate her from her competitors and educate her classmates on the Chamorro culture.

"I realized I needed to make myself known, especially coming from a small island, we're so powerful even though we're so small that we need to make ourselves known 309 all the time so people realize that we are here, and so I decided to run for freshman VP," she said.

Not only did she win that campaign, but she later also won an award for her Guam display during Squalicum High's diversity day. After reaching out for help, Kiki had received support from friends, family, the Guam Visitors Bureau and even Governor Eddie Calvo to aid her display. "The governor of Guam actually gave me a gift to give out to my school which everyone loved," she said.

Governor Calvo also commended Kiki on her efforts to promote the Chamorro culture during his State of the Island Address in February.

Now during her junior year of high school, Kiki continues to make waves, as president of her school's Diversity Club. She has began the school's first ever Multicultural Week, an initiative celebrating different cultures that has caught the attention of the school superintendent as well as schools throughout the state. "I talked to my advisor and I said hey we should do this week long event because there's so much you can learn from just a culture and it can't just be learned in one day," she recalled.

The event held its finale last Friday and included demonstrations from various cultures, including a Guam Trivia Game Day, coconut grating competition, coconut candy making demonstration, and Chamorro dance. Kiki said, "I plan to make this whole week even bigger, and I want to get more community members involved and more schools involved and I want to make sure that this is just so much bigger, it needs to be bigger."

Because Bellingham is such a small town and has such limited diversity, Kiki has made it her mission to educate not only her school, but the entire community, about the importance of diversity, how different cultures can enrich our understanding of the world, and most importantly to share her own Chamorro culture with the rest of the world. 
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