(March 8, 2001, Gazette)
By Sharon Gray
Dr. Maureen Laryea
Laryea, Nursing, has worked in five different cultures and is
a strong advocate of international and cross-cultural outreach.
She did her midwifery nursing training in South Africa and then
went to Britain to qualify as a midwifery teacher. I enjoyed
delivering babies, but the most important part to me was the
post-partum aspect what happens to the mother once she
has the baby.
Following that interest, she began researching the post-natal
care offered by midwives and eventually earned her doctorate
from the University of Ulster. Her research was on a cross-cultural
study of how women prepare themselves before childbirth. I
was looking at how pregnant women who are going to have their
deliveries in hospital prepare themselves by educating themselves
about labour. I studied women in Britain and in Canada, mostly
in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
When Dr. Laryea joined the nursing faculty at Memorial in 1989,
she became extremely interested in international work. She joined
the Canadian Council of Multicultural Health, and for many years
served as president of the local branch. I encourage students
to join, and to make presentations about any visits to other
countries or cultures. I like to socialize people into thinking
In the early days of her career, working in South Africa,
Dr. Laryea faced many challenges such as teaching midwifery in
Namibia in the Afrikaans language. Despite some difficulties
with the language, 95 per cent of her class passed. She also
worked with various tribes and discovered that even when she
didnt know the language, she could communicate non-verbally
with a bit of sign language and a big smile.
During her years at Memorial, Dr. Laryea has worked in Goose
Bay, delivering babies, and in Belize with nursing colleagues
Purnima Sen and Dr. Lan Gien as well as Dr. Albert Kozma, Psychology,
on a project to train mental health nurses. Most recently, she
has been involved with a nursing team headed by Dr. Gien (and
including Purnima Sen and Judith Blakely) on a five-year project
in Vietnam to improve the education of primary health care workers
in that country.
The School of Nursing is now in the process of establishing an
International Centre, co-chaired by Drs. Laryea and Gien. Starting
this fall, Dr. Laryea will be on sabbatical and it is no surprise
that part of her work during the year will be in South Africa,
where she will look at future development projects that will
include links with Memorial.
For me, it is important to work cross-culturally. It humbles
you every time.