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Giving birth in a foreign land – Thesis in 3 people’s choice
Published: 04 Nov 2011
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Shujie (Phoebe) Guo’s presentation won the people’s choice award at the University of Waikato Thesis in 3 competition.

A Chinese woman who gave birth to her children in New Zealand is studying immigrant women’s experiences of pregnancy and childbirth in this country.

Phoebe Guo, a doctoral student in the Department of Management Communication at Waikato University Management School outlined her thesis in three minutes at the final of the University’s Thesis in 3 competition. Her presentation won her the people’s choice prize and overall runner-up.

Phoebe was one of ten finalists in the competition and the last to present. Her speech was titled Childbirth, culture and communication: A matter of conception, and she told the audience that it can be a scary and lonely time being pregnant and giving birth in a country that’s not your own.

“In China, you put on a radiation protection suit when you are pregnant; you are not allowed to watch horror movies, Final destination 5, no way! You stay indoors for the first whole month after you give birth. And more importantly, doctors take all the decisions for you.”

Guo says communication barriers mean women can feel insecure in the New Zealand environment and maternity care providers need to have clearer understandings of the needs and anxieties of women giving birth in a foreign land.

She hopes her research will not only help Chinese women but all the different nationalities of women who give birth away from their own family, home and culture.

She’s delighted with her success in the competition.

“I have always desired to win this competition. From the first day when I decided to take part in Thesis in 3, I kept telling to myself, ‘this is what I really want”. I love doing speeches in front of people, no matter if it’s in English, Mandarin, or any other language I can speak.

“It is a pity that I didn’t finally win first place, but I am still happy to be the runner-up. More significantly, I won the people’s choice award based on votes from the audience. I am a communication researcher, so winning this award means a lot to me. It shows that I communicated my research very well to the audience. They understood what I was researching, and they loved the way I presented my research.

“As a Chinese phrase says, ‘If you don’t plant seeds in the spring, you can’t expect the harvest in the winter’. After countless practices and support from my supervisors, friends and family, I made my harvest – two prizes, praise from the audience, friendship with other finalists, and inspiration for my own research.”

First prize in Waikato’s Thesis in 3 went to Debrin Foxcroft who is studying how nations deal with issues like amnesty and impunity when moving from dictatorship to democracy.