Thursday, August 2, 2012

Letters from Matt #10: Guam

Letters From Matt are letters from my brother, Matt, from various of his domestic and international travels. The letters span decades, and I share them on Living Rootless at intervals, in no particular order. 

September 1990

Dear Family,

The weather in Japan has finally started to cool down. Today it’s about 70 degrees F and cloudy. They are talking on the news about typhoon #20 which will hit the southern coast some time today. The last typhoon hit the day I left for Guam. It killed 28 people. In my town, however, the only casualties were a couple of TV antennae.

My trip to Guam was fun. First, I went to Tokyo and visited the zoo. I saw several pandas, and a black panther that roared “save the rainforest”! as I passed by. I used the train to get to Tokyo and connected to the subway system to get to the international airport. The trains are very clean and always on time down to the last second. When the train stops a man jumps out with a watch in his hand. They wait one minute for people to get on or get off. Then he blows a whistle and waves a flag. All the doors on the train close at once and off we go again.

When the train reaches the very last station on the line, a crew of custodians rushes aboard and tidies up the train. After cleaning, the conductor presses a button that automatically rotates all the seats to face the other direction, then he goes to the other end of the train and takes off again. This way they never lose time turning the train around.

My friend, Chuck, who is a junior high school teacher on Guam, picked me up at the airport. He teaches in a small school on the less populated south side of the island.

The island is about 250 square miles (about 40 miles long by six miles wide). Population is about 125,000, 42% of which is Chamorro, a people who inhabited the island about 4000 years ago. They are thought to have originated from Malaysia. The school Chuck teaches at is mostly Chamorro.

They are culturally a lot like Filipinos because Magellan landed in Guam in the 16th century and it became a colony. After the Spanish-American War, the U.S. ruled it under the authority of the Navy. In the 50s, Guam became a territory and now it has a booming Japanese tourist economy.

There is a university in Guam that is fully accredited. The public school is constantly looking for teachers, so they will pay full scholarships for those who want to be teachers. The starting pay with no experience is 24,000 a year. That’s for 184 days of actually showing up to school. I picked up an application and some other info. I’m considering it as a possibility.

While I was in Guam, I taught Chuck’s students about rainforests. They seemed to like it. I wish I had my rainforest rap tape, though.

I made a petition to George Bush for them to sign and located a place they could recycle aluminum cans for money. It felt good for me to do something like that.

Among other activities on Guam, I found time to go snorkeling several times near the coral reefs that surround the island. I don’t think I could ever get bored of looking at such beauty.

Well, I just looked at the clock and realized it’s time to go teach a class. Until next time.


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