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Asian-Pacific Heritage Month Spotlight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
1st Lt. Joya Gamara, 43rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron

Job Title: Bioenvironmental Engineer 

Pacific Islander decent: Guam 

When did you join the Air Force: Commissioned Feb. 22, 2006 

Why did you join the Air Force: I grew up as a military dependent, so it seemed natural to join. I knew I wanted to make a difference and be a part of something that was bigger than myself. It's an honor to be able to fight for freedom and justice for my country because if I lived in another part of the world I may not have this same opportunity.
What are you most proud of within your heritage? Like so many other cultures, dance is a big part of our heritage. It's amazing to be able to pass stories of our past with grace, discipline, and beauty through dance. 

What is one thing about your decent that you find special that most others don't know about? Although Guam is small, only about 30 miles long and 12 miles wide, there are strong family ties. Chamorros express their care and concern by being the support system for each other. The word chenchule' in our language describes that sense of obligation families feel to help each other out in times of celebration and grieving. This act of giving extends far beyond our island. No matter where we are in the world, if there is another Chamorro family there, I know they will take care of me, and I will do the same for them. Our culture is built on the philosophy of helping each other out in any way (sickness, funerals, celebrations.) as it will be returned back to us. No matter where in the world we are, if people find out we come from the islands, we are welcomed with open arms. We feel secure that we will always have someone to help us out, share with us in times of need or celebrate with us. This sense of closeness of an extended family never lets you forget your roots. It reminds us the importance of family. Being in a dual military household, it is sometimes difficult to balance work and family life. We try to pray and eat together for at least one meal a day (dinner). We have movie night every Friday where the kids take turns picking out the movie. We also have "Starbucks dates" where we take the kids individually to get Starbucks hot chocolate and read a book. My culture has ingrained in me that no matter what happens in life, if you have strong family support, you can get through anything.