When I first got back to Gongju Gyodong Elementary School, I asked my coteacher for a translation of the school's calendar so I could try and figure out when/if there would be changes to my weekly schedule. On Monday, a full 5 weeks later, I was handed a piece of paper with the following headings: Date, Day, Propulsion Contents, Propulsion People, A teacher in charge, and A remarks column. Yesterday, the Propulsion Contents claimed it was Arbor Day training, and the Propulsion People were named as "all the students of a school." It must have been all the students of another school, because nothing arboreal occurred...and when I asked my coteacher what was happening for Arbor Day training, she looked at me like I was crazy.
Today the Propulsion Contents stated: "Day of loving school (Serving Activity) The hygiene of the mouth (1-2)." These Propulsion Contents turned out to be true...as the school nurse interrupted of one of my second grade classes, followed by a man in a white dentist coat, mask, and latex gloves. He carried a trash bag full of disposable mini-dentist mirror heads, and proceeded to examine the teeth of each student in the class. The school nurse told me I could leave, but I elected to stay and watch the kids get checked (it took the dentist guy less than 20 minutes to examine 40 kids). I could not believe the state of their teeth--I was standing a good ten feet away from the dentist man (I think he's an intern at Gongju National Hospital, but I'm not totally sure I understood correctly) , but I could clearly see the huge, gaping black cavities, which in many cases enveloped several entire teeth. Aside from two little girls, the entire class had either tons of decay, mouths full of silver, or both. It was pretty staggering. I don't know if it has more to do with dental hygiene in Korea or the fact that my school is low income or what. I do know that toothbrushing is very important here...every day after lunch we all troop in the bathroom to brush our teeth...why isn't that preventing all these cavities?