GUAM WOMEN WARRIORS is an online oral history project developed by Humanities Guåhan that focuses on women currently serving in the military and those who have returned to civilian life. By sharing their stories, perspectives and realities, and through hearing their voices, the goal of the project is to deepen the community’s understanding of women’s military and wartime experiences, as well as their experiences of coming home.
PEER-TO-PEER BASED: Service women and veterans are trained to collect and transcribe their own oral history narratives. Their rich stories and profound conversations come to life through a peer-to-peer exchange.
ONLINE EXHIBIT: Narratives and images document and reflect their stories of service and sacrifice.
PUBLIC PROGRAMS: Film and discussion events augment the online exhibit.
GUAM WOMEN WARRIORS is presented as part of Standing Together, an initiative of the National Endowment of the Humanities to encourage humanities programs that focus on the history, experience, or meaning of war and military service. Standing Together recognizes the importance of the humanities in helping citizens to understand the experiences of service members as they return to civilian life.
The project is made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and local support from TakeCare Foundation®, Hilton Guam Resort and Spa, Payless Car Rental, the Guam Museum, and the University of Guam.
From June 2014 through March 2015, Humanities Guåhan presented the interpretive exhibit, Sindålu – Chamorro Journeys in the U.S. Military, to explore the many significant and oftentimes unrecognized journeys of CHamoru men and women who currently serve or have served in the U. S. military. This Guam-focused companion exhibit was part of the Guam tour of the Smithsonian Institution, Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program national exhibit, Journey Stories. Through a collection of interviews and past narratives, personal images and artifacts, as well as historical and contemporary photographs and film, Sindålu illustrated the rich and multifaceted stories of CHamorus in service. The programs associated with the exhibit included scholar tours, documentary film and discussion events, an educator’s workshop, family story hours, veterans’ poetry and art nights, an interpretive exhibit workshop, events honoring Filipino and Micronesian veterans, talking circles on such topics as generations of service and veterans’ stories, and two musical performances.
To expand and build on this groundbreaking exhibit and programming, as well as to more fully address not only the significant roles Guam women have played in the U.S. military, but also the facets of their military life and actual deployment, Humanities Guåhan developed Guam Women Warriors.
Humanities Guåhan worked with scholar Laurel Monnig, PhD to conduct the initial oral history workshops with several service women and veterans. Dr. Monnig carried out ethnographic fieldwork and research on Guam in the 1990’s, investigating how CHamorus negotiate with US colonialism, militarization, racial ideologies, and activism.
By learning how to collect and transcribe their own oral history narratives, and sharing their accounts of deployment and combat with their peers, participating servicewomen and women veterans engaged in a process of reflection and empowerment in a comfortable space. These women’s narratives with selected photographs form the basis of an online exhibit and archive to preserve, privilege, and make accessible their invaluable personal journeys of service and sacrifice.
Humanities Guåhan launched this online exhibit on September 4, 2019 at the Guam Museum Theater with a celebratory reception as part of the events surrounding the 75 th Anniversary of Guam’s Liberation. The launch event also featured the Guam premier of the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded documentary film, Journey To Normal: Women of War Come Home, with director JulieHera DeStefano, followed by facilitated discussion.