Javan S.





Whenever I travel or attend an important event, I bring with me pieces of Pasifika culture to wear in public spaces. The mwar is a Carolinian flower wreath and a symbol of one of the people of the Marianas, the island chain Guahan(Guam) is a part of. I wear it whenever I travel and at formal occasions to represent my culture. It’s a beacon of the Pacific, and wearing it is a great way to connect with other Pasifika folx who are often so few in the room. When I was in Dubai for the UN climate conference, I represented Guahan as a youth delegate, and wearing my mwar connected me with a CHamoru uncle from Hawaii, and we found out our families are from the same village, and connected on work we were doing on environmental preservation and cultural awareness.

Another piece of my culture I have is my acho’ atupat. It’s a traditional CHamoru slingstone necklace made out of Hima or giant clam. This is a CHamoru symbol of ingenuity and innovation, and is the symbol that’s on Guahan’s flag and seal.

Both pieces were gifted to me from close CHamoru friends who have taken care of me and supported me throughout my career. They are important to me not only because they hold a connection to my island home, a connection to my community and ancestor, but they also connect me with new Pasifika folx around the world. Growing up, I had dysphoria because the way I looked, no one thought I looked Pasifika, always being racialized as Asian. Thanks to these pieces, though, wherever I go I have been able to connect with more and more Pasifika people. This helped me bridge communities, cement my identity, and show the world that the people of Guahan, the CHamoru people, and the people of the Marianas are present in spaces from DC to the UN and communities across the world. We are here, we are resilient, and our culture is being practiced across the world.