Cosmopolitan Guam-native adjusts to life in Austin

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Freshman Christopher Duenas misses the ocean most.  

“There’s something calming about being able to walk a mile or two down the street and look out into the ocean,” the Interactive Game Studies major said.

From the American territory of the pacific island of Guam, Duenas is at St. Edward’s because he is intrigued by the cultural atmosphere of Austin. He enjoys just being on campus.

“I like to just sit around and hang out to be honest,” Duenas said. “I usually find that if I just sit in one place, I’ll come across a whole lot of people I don’t know and I’ll just meet tons of people.”’

While St. Edward’s has the feel of a college campus for Duenas, he also appreciates the nature and wildlife within it.  In this way, Duenas sees St. Edward’s as similar to Guam.  

“I really like that idea of spreading out but still leaving a bit of nature around to remind us of what else was here beforehand,” Duenas said.

Duenas is Chamorro, meaning his ethnic background comes from the indigenous people of Guam.  While living on Guam, Duenas enjoyed playing sports and musical instruments, and hunting— sometimes with his rifle and sometimes with his bow and arrow.  Duenas thinks that Chamorro culture can be compared to Native American cultures they have similar histories.

“They found themselves being essentially controlled by the American government and forced to go different places that they didn’t really want to,” Duenas said, “and I feel like it was the same for the Chamorros; so we get that strength— that need to resist.”

Duenas sees this strength as an aspect of Chamorro culture.

“We’re very determined to stand out and scream that we’re still here,” Duenas said.

Duenas also says that Chamorro culture includes the ability to let go of bad feelings against those who harmed them in the past.  

“Strength to resist and ability to accept and forgive gives us a unique strength that not many cultures have, or at least not many that I’ve seen,” Duenas said.

Duenas has experienced multiple cultures in Europe. He has spent time in Germany, Scotland, Italy and France.  

“I’ve seen a bunch of different, varying cultures,” Duenas said.  “It’s much easier for me to adapt to new people and new places.”

After college, Duenas plans to go back to Guam, but not before he is able to bring something back that will help boost the island’s economy.

“I feel like if we introduce more technology into Guam’s infrastructure and economy, it’ll really help Guam out,” Duenas said.

Duenas is interested in the storytelling aspect of video games.

“I like creating stories and I like building something that people will enjoy doing and looking at,” Duenas said. “I figure video games are a great middle ground to create those stories and use those stories to draw people in and get them really hyped to go on an adventure.”

Duenas has had experiences all over the world and is interested in other people’s adventures as well.  

“I feel like my life is interesting, but I also like hearing other people’s stories. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone, a story is still a story. There’s always one person somewhere out there who will find your story interesting,” Duenas said.

“As a writer myself, I always know that it’s those small meetings — those random chances that you bump into some person — that great stories are formed.”