If there’s one thing CMU teaches, it’s interconnectivity

When I chose Communications & Media as my major, I probably wouldn’t have pegged Manitoba Public Insurance as the place that I would be completing my practicum. Nonetheless, that is exactly where I found myself one year ago. I was set to be one of five other students with the title of “Community Relations Assistant,” and as a team, we would be responsible for going around to schools, daycares, and summer events across Manitoba to do bike safety and road safety presentations.

Jason FriesenMy communication did not take the form that people typically think of when they hear the words “communications and media.” There were no blog or social media posts. Instead, I engaged with people face-to-face on a daily basis on behalf of MPI. Though at first glance our job was to state the rules of the road and making presentations, it became obvious that interacting and connecting with communities across Manitoba was far more important.

Many of the events I attended showed this, and were part of larger community gatherings. Not only was our team running a bike safety course, but there were other organizations giving away bikes to kids who did not have one, and members of the community would be barbecuing hot dogs. The events were designed to connect different organizations, and bring the whole community together.

It wasn’t hard to tell that this was meaningful to the communities. At one country fair, a man told me that he had been in a car crash several years ago, and had to go through rehab to recover from the effects of it. He then proceeded to sincerely thank me and MPI for all of the funds and assistance that he had received.

Not only did this interaction make me feel like I was building community, but it really made me feel that even in a large corporation like MPI, everything is tied together. What I was doing was not separate from those collecting payments for licenses, or from those making sure that Manitoban’s are cared for when they are in an accident.

My education at CMU has been much the same. I have taken a wide variety of courses, from communications, to business, to Bible, and science. And somehow, I have been able to find connections between many of them.

Making connections will only help me in my future endeavours. Professor David Balzer summed it up best. “Any other academic discipline can be connected to communications, because you won’t be communicating about communications. You’ll be communicating about science, music, business, and other things.”

Jason Friesen is a fourth year student majoring in Communications & Media

How I found my voice…as a radio cowboy


Brighton Thiessen behind the mic at CHVN

Your 18th birthday is supposed to be this great thing. You are celebrating that you are free from the clutches of your parents, and you technically become legal in Canada.

I spent my 18th birthday packing up my things and moving to a first floor dorm room at Poettcker Hall. I felt as though I was still a high school kid who was still too young to understand what goes on at university. That first year, I struggled in class, and I wondered why I even was going to school in the first place.

I considered dropping a couple of times, but there was that little itch in the back of my head saying that I should stay, and that your time at CMU would be worthwhile.

Fast forward to now, and I am graduating this year, and I am currently doing a practicum assignment working as an on-air host at CHVN radio in Winnipeg. I guess it makes sense for me considering I am a Communications & Media major with a Biblical and Theological Studies minor, and CHVN is the only Christian radio station in Winnipeg.

Looking back on my time here, I realized that every course I took at CMU prepared me to be an on-air host, which I didn’t think I could do at first. I guess the moment I realized was in my first-year Media Workshop class. One of our fun end-of-the-year projects was to come up with a cool 30-second audio commercial for the Carnaval BBQ restaurant at the Forks.

For some odd reason, I got picked to speak in a ridiculous cowboy accent.

So I am sitting in the recording booth and it’s not going very well. I decided to take it one step further by just overdoing the accent. Communications & Media Professor David Balzer comes over the loud speaker and says that was too much, but the whole class said, “No that’s perfect.” In that moment, I felt like I truly found my voice.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the CMU community as well. I’ve had the chance to learn from great professors, great staff members that will drop anything that they are doing to talk to you and to see how your day is going, and my fellow classmates who turn what could be a regular old university class into a fun-loving environment that you can immediately feel comfortable in. I don’t know if there is a better community than CMU.

I recently had a conversation with the program director at CHVN. He said, “When I first met you, I wasn’t sure this was going to work because you were  quiet reserved individual who liked to keep to himself. Now, three months later, you are doing lots of on-air stuff for us, and it’s really worked out.” And then he said, “I like you a lot, and I kind of don’t want you to leave.”

Right now, I don’t want to leave CMU, but I know that my journey here is complete, and I have grown from a high school kid who sort of knew what he wanted to do, to being able to see that I can do anything that I put my mind to.

Brighton Thiessen is graduating in April from CMU’s Communications & Media program

My practicum experience: real life learning

ircom house

Greetings! My name is Louisa Hofer. I am in my fourth and final year of a social science major.

 I decided to do my practicum during the school year as a part of my overall semester, rather than doing an intensive practicum during the summer like many of my friends and fellow students have done. The people I worked with spoke to me along with my readings, professors, and other conversation partners. This helped me learn in a way that I might not have otherwise and in a way that I really needed at the time.

My practicum took place last semester at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, or IRCOM, as it is more commonly known. IRCOM, is a lot of things. It’s a safe and affordable transitional housing complex for newcomers. It is also home to a multitude of transitional aid programs for both IRCOM residents and members of the West End and West Alexander communities. These programs include English classes, finance classes, job connection services, countless youth and children’s programs, and much more.

IRCOM is a also group of staff available for questions; many of them who had been newcomers themselves and participated in the very IRCOM programs that they now help run. These staff members also do a lot advocacy work—they attend conferences, panels, and write to politicians regarding relevant policies. IRCOM is a lot of things to a lot people.

"The City" with Prof. Chris Huebner

“The City” with Prof. Chris Huebner

While involved at IRCOM, I was also taking a course called: “The City: Theological and Philosophical perspectives” with Prof. Chris Huebner. It’s one of those courses that haunts everything…the kind that seeps into a ridiculous amount of your thought. We read Plato, Augustine’s City of God, Foucault, and more all while watching
the HBO show The Wire, which uncovers the broken lives of people in Baltimore, MD. In a violent revealing it showed us the corrupt and messed up policies and market forces that seem to screw these citizens over in ways akin to the mischievous terror of the gods in a Greek tragedy.

thewireThe Wire does this in both a shocking and brilliant fashion. It showed the utter failure of bureaucracy, and caused me to question my faith in humanity’s ability to organize ourselves. If that wasn’t enough, there were other events happening that were certainly not inconsequential, not the least of which was a significant election and the profound mass migration of refugees.

From that heavy and heady space that challenged and lamented the big picture, I would go to IRCOM and assist in little things. On any given week I would do some office work, some filing, or build some IKEA furniture. It was an odd juxtaposition to be assisting in the mundane functions of a non-profit organization with all of those thoughts going on in the background. I approached this place expecting to see people that were troubled and perplexed, but I saw a lot of “just living”—people just going about their day.

My time tutoring in IRCOM’s homework program definitely my favourite task. This program was started by IRCOM kids themselves a few years back and has expanded into quite the endeavour. There are around 60-70 kids all doing their homework (or sometimes not doing their homework) with 5-10 tutors every night.

It is quite the beautiful chaos to see kids from different linguistic, cultural, and religious groups in the same room coming together almost every day. From what these kids have said, this learning community has provided a significant boost in facing an unfamiliar educational system.

MBInfographiconRefugeesMBInfographiconRefugeesI had been with people who were going about their business, navigating life and forming a little learning community, but this night was a small glimpse into how these lives have so often been cast into controversy and into a narrative of danger, or of crisis and charity. It was a glimpse into how the way they were being narrated and the outcome of the U.S. election would severely effect people who would be trying to make a similar journey that they had.

There has been a lot to be said for what is going on here, of the protests and the marches attended by these folks, but also the quiet resistance lived-out in the form of everyday life that dwells beyond the labels of danger, of crisis, and charity that people always seem to ascribe.

I’m not sure how this mess will turn out, but it has been an honour to be with these people who just keep doing their thing.

Louisa Hofer is a fourth year student in social science

How CMU turned out to be the perfect fit for me after all


Laura (second right, behind the trophy) smiles with her teammates after winning the MCAC Volleyball Championships in February.

There were endless reasons why I stroked off Canadian Mennonite University from my list of possibilities for the fall of 2016. I didn’t know for certain that university was the place for me to go; I didn’t know what I wanted to study; I couldn’t decide where to go; nothing seemed to grab me.

I didn’t want to do anything my older siblings had done because that was too predictably mainstream. I wanted to be my own person, to dream big and do the unexpected. Hearing about CMU made me shake my head because it was small, Mennonite, and had good community.

Small… no. I wanted somewhere big where I could get lost. I was looking for a place where nobody knew me and if I did not want to meet anyone, I wouldn’t have to. The word Mennonite made me scared.

Theology was another word that sounded boring and unnecessary. Actually, I’ve found those classes fun and the professors interesting. You can even choose which Bible classes to take, relating them to your specific interests.

As a graduating student from a Christian high school, I also didn’t want to hear the word community ever again. Community was a shaky term for me, not to mention how I wanted to be anonymous—a community was not going to fulfill that for me! I didn’t realize that community was not just a good-looking, positive-sounding word used by everyone, but a true possibility.

CMU has turned out to be exactly what I needed. It is a place where professors know you by name and welcome you into their office at all hours. It is a place of welcome, knowing that if you want to get involved you can, but there is no pressure to be known. It is a place of growth, where you learn such fascinating facts and life-giving material. It is where you can take the courses that look interesting to you and decide only later what you love or what you hate. 

This is where I took my first Peace and Conflict Studies Class and decided that I found my major. It is the place where I spend hours studying, drinking coffee, playing volleyball, and people watching. It has become my second home.

I am Laura, a student, peacebuilder, psychologist, philosopher, theologian, athlete, and musician. CMU is the place that I can be who I am and what I want. I can take risks or stand back, and I can humbly learn from my mistakes. It is the place that I initially turned away from and only applied because it was free. Now it is my university and I encourage you to imagine it being yours too.

Laura Woelk is a first year student in Peace and Conflict Studies.

What are CMU graduates up to after graduation?


Our alumni leave CMU equipped for a huge diversity of career opportunities

Graduation is around the corner and graduates are asking themselves, what now? The paths taken by CMU alumni are endless. Many go into careers or grad work directly related to their degree, while others try something new which they might never have expected. Here’s what some of our 2017 grads have planned:

“I’ll be graduating in April with a Bachelor of Music, with a concentration in vocal 1P5C5341 copyperformance. I intend to pursue further studies in this field in the fall, in the hopes that I will one day perform on stage. It’s a daunting and competitive line of work. This scares me, but I know that CMU has set me up well, not only in the sense that I have been trained well musically, but I have also been given a holistic musical education rooted in faith. This will allow me perspective more than anything else; the knowledge that the music I make is in service to others and honouring God.”
– Nolan Kehler

“I’m graduating with a major in Psychology and a minor in Biblical and Theological Studies. I am planning to go into physiotherapy as my next step. I am extremely exited for this new journey! CMU has been a wonderful place that has challenged me to think critically. This is extremely important going into physiotherapy, as everything is interconnected, the body in its entirety, and also mind and spirit.”
– Tasha Enns

“I’m studying International Development Studies, but I’ve been taking a wide IMG_20161214_103407variety of courses. How I live is a lot more important to me than what I do in terms of making a living, which allows me the freedom to live a good life that benefits me and everyone and everything I am connected to. Having time to build and maintain relationships and better understand the world is high on my priority list, and piling on stress isn’t, so I’ve been figuring out how to live a life that reflects that. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far, and CMU and the people here have helped a lot.”
– Ben Wride

“This spring, I am graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in 11154921_10203243178314972_1585605765596498261_oPsychology and a minor in Biblical and Theological Studies. I am planning on entering the Master’s of Physiotherapy program at the University of Manitoba. CMU has been a place that has inspired me to think critically and to explore my passions. Having professors who get so excited about what they teach makes me excited to pursue the things that I care so much about. The people that I have met, along with the education and community experience that I have gotten at CMU, leave me sad to go from here, but have also made me excited to continue with what I have learned. I wouldn’t have changed my time here for anything!”
– Becca Krahn

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