Psychology lecturer Dr Rita George explains how cushions played a key role in helping her reach her career goals and why Finding Nemo is the movie that has it all.
Dr Rita George
Psychology lecturer and tutor
Our students at Trinity are at a rather unique crossroads of life – they are international students, out of school, not yet at university, and trying to get into one of the top universities in the world. They are teenagers with all the regular hassles that a young person their age has to negotiate, along with academic pressure and the challenge of settling into a new country, learning a new culture and developing independent feet to stand on, while finding their own voice.
Phew! Does that sound like a lot to take on or what?!
As a teacher at Trinity, it is a privilege to be a part of this exciting journey. The atmosphere at Trinity is welcoming and warm–it feels like a home away from home. Our alumni often return to share similar sentiments with us. As an added bonus, I’ve made some truly precious friends at Trinity.
I clearly remember a conversation I had with my students in 2017. Students were excitedly discussing the role of culture in identity formation. It was lovely to see everyone get into the activity. At some point, the stories got rather grim and serious and I suddenly decided to change the mood by playing an Ed Sheeran song (The Shape of You) on my mobile to lift spirits up. Everyone jumped up and started dancing. It was infectious and crazy and reminded me of how resilient our young people are, and the youthful abandon with which they can just move on and have some fun.
As a child, I was often busy with pretend play. I was either a doctor or a teacher. When I was a doctor, I was taking the temperature of my ‘patients’ (my cushions). When I was a teacher, I would arrange the same cushions on my couch and teach them. In the '70s, my dad had a bunch of encyclopedias and my teaching material came from there. Yes – I actually went on to become a doctor (dental surgeon) and am now a teacher. I’m living the dream…
I loved biology (for me it’s a no brainer – who can resist the lifecycle of the Anopheles mosquito or the Krebs cycle, right?)
This is rather personal, but there was a moment in my life when I decided to walk away from a very difficult situation and move to another country to start a new life and change careers. I didn’t have family or friends. I started fresh. I was scared, but it was the best decision of my life – deciding to walk away and not look back. That was a pivotal moment for me.
Finding Nemo (don’t laugh!). It’s got it all: survival (little Nemo has to make it back to his dad), love and grit (Marlin and Dory do not give up), community (the whole ocean pulls together), scary moments (the whale swallows Marlin and Dory, Nemo gets flushed down the toilet), and hope (they were reunited in the end, and Marlin learned that sometimes loving means letting go). And living life isn’t about hiding and not taking risks, it’s about believing in a better tomorrow and overcoming our fears. C’mon, do I hear an Amen in the house!?
This one is not for the faint-hearted. While working as a dental surgeon in Dubai, I was called into the neonatal department (little babies) to assist with a rather peculiar procedure. I was asked to remove dental tissue from somewhere you’d never think to find a tooth. I’m not going into the details. Stretch your imagination as far as you can and you’ll probably get what I’m trying not to say. Tooth tissue sometimes develops in the wrong position in the foetus, also called a teratoma, and is serious business if not addressed. It makes for interesting dinner table conversation (NOT!).
Do your work wholeheartedly and diligently, as if God is watching you, and not for human praise or selfish benefit.
Love. Love would make the world a better place. But this then would be contingent on how you define love. Love is selfless, sacrificing, tolerant, gentle, forgiving, and patient.
Reading. If you give me a book and I find it interesting, I often tend to go down a rabbit-hole.
Be kind to yourself and learn to love yourself. It’s not easy in today’s loud world, but try.
Forgive people. Holding a grudge puts you in a prison of your own making. And hey, forgive yourself too. It might be the hardest thing you need to do.
Think before you make the big choices in life. The consequences of a poor choice can be long-lasting and you could hurt many along the way, including yourself.
Respect your parents – they are trying.
Nothing comes easy. Work for it. Don’t sit back and blame the world. Do something about it.