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Crawford School introduces our fantastic staff, so you can meet the people of Asia and the Pacific’s leading graduate policy school.
Today, we chat to Senior Program Coordinator for the National Security College Christina Gee about supporting students when they need it most, and how a combination of pancakes, her dogs, nature, knitting, and dance has kept her upbeat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s your role at Crawford and what do you enjoy most about it?
I work in the Student Engagement team and I’m the Senior Program Coordinator for the National Security College postgraduate coursework masters programs. I’ve been working in education administration for nearly 10 years and the most satisfying part of the job is supporting students to achieve their goals – helping them with a tricky admin issue, directing them to services they didn’t know about or couldn’t access, or even giving them a much-needed pep talk. Graduation day is always my favourite day, especially when we see students graduating who we know have had a tough time but have managed to make it through, it’s lovely seeing them go on to exciting new adventures.
Can you tell us about one of your personal highlights working at Crawford School?
When I started at the Crawford School last year, I was given the task of starting the student newsletter, From The Hub. I recently realised that since then I’ve put together over 50 editions of the newsletter (and my colleagues have done a great job of stepping in when I’ve been on leave). I always try to include some of the weird and wonderful things that people can do in Canberra; we want students to expand their life experiences as much as possible while they’re with us, not just academically.
Can you see a silver lining in this crisis?
It’s really hard to see a silver lining, knowing that COVID-19 is causing so much pain to so many people. Having said that, I get the impression that lockdown has given a lot of us the opportunity to interrogate how we were living our lives pre-COVID, and to take stock of and reaffirm or renegotiate our personal priorities. A bit of introspection and reflection can be refreshing.
Can you tell us about a feel-good dish that you or someone in your family makes in stressful times?
One of the comfort foods my mum always made for me growing up was pancakes. Not the thick fluffy American-style ones, more crepe French-style. She always used this particular cast iron skillet, and when I moved out, she let me take it with me and it’s one of my most treasured possessions, strangely enough! So, when times are tough and I need a pick me up my partner and I will make pancakes for dinner with this skillet. I don’t limit myself to Shrove Tuesday!
If you could go back and choose a different career path, what would it be?
I’ve always liked the idea of working in nature, or working on environmental issues. As much as I’ve enjoyed my time as a university administrator it wasn’t ever a career goal, so at the beginning of the year I started the Master of Environment at Fenner School. I’m excited to see what new and different paths I can follow out of that.
Can you give us your top three tips about how to stay positive during the COVID-19 outbreak?
The number one thing that has helped me stay positive is going outside and seeing some nature or greenery. I have two dogs, Maggie, the sheltie, and Basil, the schnauzer, and they are a god-send because they really force me to get out each day and enjoy some fresh air. I also love going out to Tidbinbilla, or going for a walk at places like the Arboretum, Narrabundah Hill or Cooleman Ridge. The second thing that has helped me stay positive is that I’m a knitter, and I find that knitting has a really calming effect on me – it’s a great activity for practising mindfulness! So, my tip is for everyone to try to find a calming, mindful activity. My third tip is to stay connected and take time out to have a bit of silliness with friends – I love dancehall, and I regularly meet up with a friend and we just dance for hours out in the open – it’s so fun to be dancing out in public after weeks of online zoom dance sessions!