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Marianas Variety: NMC instructor encourages community to submit stories about culture (March 1, 2017)

NORTHERN Marianas College languages and humanities instructor Ajani Burrell on Tuesday encouraged community members to share their stories about culture that affect the people of the Marianas.

In his remarks during the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting, Burrell said he and Kimberly Bunts-Anderson are working on a book project funded by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council that will examine contemporary culture in the Marianas.

There are customs and practices that are still observed, while others are fading and need a concerted effort to renew and maintain, Burrell told the Rotarians during their weekly meeting at the Hyatt’s Giovanni’s Restaurant.

“We hope to develop a book that will be accessible to the general public and to students at various levels, especially those taking cultural studies,” he said.

The book will explore cultural resurgence, island superstitions and beliefs, cultural artifacts, business and entrepreneurship, decay, changing demographics, customs, modern cultural issues and current community issues, Burrell said.

Contributed stories may include interviews, but they must be relevant to the context of contemporary perspectives and lifestyles of the Marianas region, he added.

He said they recently traveled to Tinian, Rota and Guam to meet with local people there and investigate various stories and cultural practices.

“The project is supposed to be a compendium of many voices in the Marianas,” he added.

It will also “examine the experiences, perceptions and unique stories of individuals and groups (either transient or permanent) that reside within the diverse multi-ethnic and multi-cultural communities that form contemporary life in the Marianas today.”

Burrell said they expect to complete the manuscript by September this year.

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