The students were part of the UOG/UH 2010 archaeological field school held at the Guam National Wildlife Refuge in Ritidian. The program began in 2007.
“The students came to Guam with no expectations of what it would be like because it’s off a lot of people’s radar screens. They’re just excited to learn about Guam and the Marianas,” said Dr. James Bayman, anthropology professor from the University of Hawaii.
When asked if there were any challenges the students faced, he replied jokingly “Living in close quarters 24 hours a day and working in hot weather.”
Dr. John Peterson, director of the Richard Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center at UOG, said participating students learned how to excavate archaeological sites and document their analysis. They also learned about the history of the Chamorros before the Spanish arrived, during the Spanish rule, up to World War II.
University of Hawaii student Gloria M. Hong presented a paper on betelnut, comparing it to nicotine and cigarettes. Hong informed the group that between 400 and 600 million worldwide chew betel nut, especially in the south Pacific and is chewed more than regular chewing gum.
On Guam, during her research, she had found that only 37 percent of the island’s population is Chamorro and out of that number only 12 percent chew pugua.
Hong’s research showed how betel nut can help strengthen teeth and reduce cavities and acts as either a breath freshener or an anti-helmintic against tape worms.
There are dangers to chewing betel nut, Hong said. It can lead to diseases including oral cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Aside from the cultural and health aspects, Hong also touched on the United States’ ban on betelnut importation. Local leaders, she said, felt the ban was meant to prevent Chamorros from enjoying a cultural past time.
Jane Drengson, of the University of Hawaii, and Andrea Jalandoni, a student from the University of the Philippines’ Archaeological Studies Program, both also enjoyed the social aspect of the program.
“I enjoyed this more than last year,” said Drengson who attended the 2009 program. “People really blew me away. It’s a really friendly group. You can see it in the presentations. Everyone put a lot of work into them. And I still love Guam. We hope to come back again.”
“I think the research we’re doing here will be a huge benefit to the people of Guam,” said Jalandoni.