Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sohte Cavity

Pre-Peace Corps I went to the dentist about every six months for a cleaning and examination. I pride myself on the fact that I have never had a cavity. I was very happy to learn that Pohnpei has a Peace Corps approved dental office. Since I have been in Pohnpei for almost seven months, and I hadn’t been to the dentist in almost 10, I decided it was time for a check up.

The irony began on the way to my appointment, my taxi driver was missing most of his teeth, I hoped this wasn’t some sort of omen, but rather a good reminder as to why I was voluntarily visiting the dentist.

After entering the waiting room, which had neither plush sofas, an assortment of magazines, nor aroma of potpourri, I checked in and was ushered back into the examination room. The woman who would be cleaning my teeth greeted me with a gold-toothed smile, again, a reminder as to why I was here. I sat in the chair and we started engaging in small talk, she asked me all the typical questions: Do I have brothers and sisters? Where in the states am I from? What religion am I? Do I like Pohnpei?

I thought I could be nice and show some interest in her. I asked her where she had gone to school to become a hygienist. I asked the question because I thought travel could be something we had in common, but she took it as I was nervous about having her work in my mouth. It turns out she wasn’t a hygienist like I first assumed, but rather a dental assistant. She informed me not to worry, she had been doing this for 26 years, and although she had never been to school, she had learned from experience.

After taking a peak in my mouth she noted how nice my teeth were. She repeatedly said, “Sohte cavity” which means “no cavities” she also told me several times in Pohnpeian how nice my teeth were.

Although she had never received formal training she had mastered the art of asking questions while her hands were in my mouth and there was no way I could answer. She also completed all the normal routine cleaning procedures. The only big difference was instead of an easy listening radio station playing in the background, I could hear the Filipino Soap Opera playing in the waiting room.

There were a few “I’m in Pohnpei reminders” during my visit, the chair was never fully reclined, which didn’t bother me, but I think it made it more difficult for her to have full access to all of my teeth. Also, since most of the teeth she sees everyday are covered in tobacco, limestone, and betel nut residue she told me that my teeth were already clean. I think she was confused as to why exactly I had come to the dentist when it was obvious that my teeth were fine. Also I wasn’t told I was doing anything wrong. When I have visited my dentist in the past it seems no matter how well I think I am brushing or flossing I am given directions to improve.

I’ll be visiting my regular dentist in 9 months or so, when I’m home for a visit. We’ll see how “mwahu douluhl” my teeth really are.

Although I’m Cori Jo, not Mollie, her teeth are also uhdahn mwahu! I hope you have enjoyed our April Fools blog swap, you can read about Mollie here.

Cori Jo

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Doing some educatin'


We've just rounded the corner into 4th quarter here at Lukop Elementary School. It'll be my final quarter as a classroom teacher, since next fall I'll act as a resource teacher for the whole school before I depart in November. Time is flying. I'm very much going to miss my students when we part -- especially my 8th graders, since they've been my students as long as I've taught in Pohnpei.

All is well here. No earthquakes, tsunamis, or toxic runoff are ruffling our feathers on Pohnpei as of now. In fact, we've been blessed this month with a whole lot of business-as-usual, with oodles of academic competitions -- math olympiads, essay contests, science fairs -- coming our way from the DOE.

In addition to the official doings, we've had a few special events happening around campus.

First, we were lucky enough to host a group of Japanese Medical Students here on an exchange program a few days before the tsunami. They came to our classrooms to meet the students, learn about their families, and make lots of balloon animals and oragami boxes. My favorite part of their visit was when we all went to my host family's house to talk to them about local medicine. I got to act as an interpreter, which was a great way for me to learn about my host parents' work, too!

The next bit of big, educative news is that L.E.S. now has a library! It's small, and only the junior novels have been catalogued, but it's a definite start! Hopefully the whole thing will be organized and ready for student use by the end of the summer. I'm ecstatic now, though, because all of my 7th and 8th grade students were able to check out their own independent reading book last week. For many of them it's the first book they've EVER read on their own/for fun. As a lifelong reader, it brings me joy to see them diving into books for the first time!

The independent reading project also has brought some amusement on the homework front. Earlier this week I assigned a writing response on the topic of setting. I asked each student to identify the setting of their novel and to say whether or not they would like to visit it.

My favorite response came from my student with the best sense of humor, Alex Alexander. With his permission, I've included his unedited response to "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" below:

I want to go to this place, because I really want to see it with my own eyes. If there is a man half goat. I want to touch him, talk to him and teach him how to plant sakau. I want to see the beavers. I want to see their faces. I want to sit and watch if a female beavers know how to use a sewing machine.
Its very funny to read about these things. I’ve been so eager to see it. I want to talk to the lion and his crew. And to see if ther’s a wich that has a magic wand. I want to kill her and take her wand away. And turn my enemy in to stone.
Finally, I really want to see these things, to sea if they’re real. I want to be the tourist to all these stuffs. To find more about these creatures. To learn more about them because I’m so interested.

Hopefully the interest keeps up, as well as the occasional blog for you all!

Lots of love,