2019 Summer Travel Grant Series: Presenting at the 43rd Annual Pacific Circle Consortium in Guam

Summer Travel Grant 2019 Recipient
Ger Thao
Graduate Degree Fellow
PhD in Education

Hafa Adai / Aloha / Hello:

On July 8th-12th, I attended the 43rd Annual Pacific Circle Consortium conference on the beautiful island of Guam. This is a milestone year for Guam as it commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Battle of Guam, which dramatically changed the lives of the indigenous people of Guam, the Chamorro. The theme of the conference, “Connecting Past & Present: Educating Across Generations”, embraced the importance for all of us to never forget our past. The conference brought together educators, school administrators, historians, students, and traditional scholars to share, discuss and collaborate on innovative practices in educating children of the Pacific. My four days at the conference, being surrounded by attendees, speakers, and panel members, has inspired me to continue to do my part to help strengthen and build the capacity of our Pacific educational systems and communities.

Throughout the four days, I attended eight very informational and inspiring sessions centered around effective school improvement initiatives, innovative approaches in the teaching of history in primary and secondary schools, education curricula for the 21st century / reflections of World War II, impact of globalization within the Pacific, and transference of traditional knowledge. On Wednesday, July 10th, I presented on Leaders of Social Justice in Education: Theory to Practice. I shared about teaching tolerance and the course I am helping build with my advisor. As a Hmong immigrant, I also shared my personal experience of teaching first grade and realizing how little my students know about the Hmong culture. Realizing the paucity of literature by Hmong authors and representing the Hmong culture, I created a bilingual children’s picture book that traced my family’s journey from Laos/Thailand to the United States. I shared ways to utilize The Hmong Journey in the classroom and applying the critical multicultural analysis to help children shape and ask questions of the curriculum, as well as help them read themselves into the curriculum.

Beyond the conference, I was able to participate in some amazing excursions, including a World War II Guided History Tour, Wednesday Night Market at Chamorro Village, Historic Hagatna Guided Tour, and Valley of the Latte Adventure Park. The beauty of being an East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellow is we have connections wherever we travel. I was able to connect with a few EWC participants in Guam as well. I want to thank the people of Guam for their hospitality in welcoming us to their shores and the conference committee for their commitment to ensuring a memorable conference experience in the beautiful Pacific setting. This is an experience I will never forget!

Si Yu’os Ma’åse’ / Mahalo / Thank You