Basic pedestrian safety rules recommend walking on the left side of a road that doesn’t have sidewalks. Even if it wasn’t the safe thing to do, I probably would do it anyway. As a hearing-impaired walker, seeing oncoming traffic is much easier than trying to hear it coming up from behind me.
Mandi Bauer, RDH, is one of the Heart to Hands Award recipients profiled in this issue. It’s hard for me to imagine the intense focus involved in describing within a two-minute video how dental hygiene drives you to achieve new levels in your career. But all three of the 2018 recipients did just that, and I am in awe. In her video, Bauer made it clear that her assistance to rural Ugandan women translates to professional concerns about female dental patients in her own country.
After the award recipients are announced, I, as the editor, can tell them, “Relax! You have more than two minutes here.” I interviewed them more in-depth for the article that appears in the magazine (see page 14). So Mandi and I discussed the misconceptions that mothers in Uganda have about oral care. In her lengthier conversations with me, she also shared other anecdotes about her love for residents in the African country. She talked, for example, about her participation in building a well for the school for the deaf in Uganda. The deaf students no longer have to walk along a road to fetch water.
“Many of the students were getting injured by cars and motorcyclists due to the fact that they were unable to hear the honks of the drivers,” Mandi told me. She enjoyed her experience with the school but admitted, “I didn’t know sign language ... sometimes we were forced to go through several interpreters.”
So I looked up the sign for water in Uganda. I started with the Spread the Sign website, which allows you to view sign language as used in multiple countries. To my dismay, no African countries are represented in the website. Wikipedia states that “Uganda was the second country in the world to recognize sign language in its constitution in 1995.” In the United States, the sign for water involves connecting the thumb with the pinky, and lightly tapping the three middle fingers against the chin. In Uganda, a one-handed American gesture of a faking a tremor (usually in mock fright) may result in a glass of water being offered to you.
This is a glimpse of the world of dental hygiene—regardless of whether the communication occurs in a remote village or chairside in an urban office. You are the best communicators on behalf of dentistry. You can do an impassioned two-minute video about how your career transforms you. Dental hygienists are remarkable.
I probably should take less than two minutes to explain where you can watch these videos that wowed the judges for the Hearts to Hands Award. The online version of this article about Mandi, Rachel Bellon-Roxas, and Dara McConnell at RDHmag.com contains the videos for easy viewing.