In the United States, we take oral hygiene for granted.
But that isn't the case around the world. Just ask Peace Corp volunteer Evan Dembkowski, who has been living and working in Guatemala since January.
As part of his volunteer work, Dembkowski is teaching students at two Guatemalan schools about the importance of oral hygiene, with the focus on showing them how to brush their teeth. Students in Liverpool High School Annex global studies teacher Maureen Tricase's classes have helped him with his efforts.
In August, Dembkowski, Tricase's nephew, stopped by the Annex's Find Your Locker Night to meet with her new students and talk about the Peace Corp and his efforts. The students, inspired by what they heard, donated several boxes of toothpaste. Tricase then shipped those boxes to Dembkowski in Guatemala.
Tricase said toothpaste isn't available in Guatemala, and the students were excited to receive the donated items.
"It's like Christmas for them," she said, adding her nephew also plans to teach the Guatemalan students about other items they can use to keep their teeth clean.
In addition to the toothpaste collection, both the Annex and Guatemalan students are simultaneously working on a map project this year. The Annex freshmen are creating a thematic map that will represent the global studies units they are studying.
Since last December, Tricase's students have participated in the World Wise Schools Correspondence Match Program and communicated with Dembkowski, who has kept a blog where he discuses Mayan culture, such as language, food and music, and explains the challenges he is facing while living in a new country.
In addition to his efforts to teach Guatemalan children about oral hygiene, Dembkowski also is focusing on eco-tourism by using the country's natural resources to generate income for the community where he is living.
"I really think he is making a difference," Tricase said, adding being responsible citizens is one of the Liverpool Central School District's goals for a successful LHS graduate. "They all need to start thinking about how they can make a difference in the community."