Tag: communications & media (Page 1 of 2)

The courage to be vulnerable

Jason Friesen - The courage to be vulnerable (Portrait of Jason Friesen on the Marpeck bridge wearing a grey long sleeved t-shirt with the CMU logo across the chest.)

Most of us don’t like to be in vulnerable spaces. The uncertainties of those spaces leave us with butterflies fluttering around in our stomachs. Conceding power is uncomfortable. Yet CMU is a place that exemplifies and guides us into those vulnerable spaces.

Let’s start with the classroom. One of CMU’s largest selling points is the small class sizes, which allow students to interact personally with their professors. This is completely accurate, but just saying that to a prospective student at a campus visit day doesn’t fully capture the connection between professors and students.

CMU students are not only treated to professors who interact with them, but professors who make themselves vulnerable.

I still remember taking Interpersonal Communication in my second year with sociology professor Rod Reynar. The very first class, Rod told us some of his life story. Hearing about Rod’s chronic back pain caused by inflammation around his spinal cord, and how that kept him bed ridden for years sent a strong message on its own. But his actions sent a message that would set the tone for the rest of the semester. The classroom was to be a space of sharing, where personal experiences were a valuable asset to learning. How could we students not follow suit and share of our own lives as well?

Students seated at a desk in small classroom at CMU, engaging with a professor across from them.

That invitation to make those kinds of connections is not isolated to a class focusing on Interpersonal Communication. It quickly becomes something we expect in the classroom at CMU no matter the course. Here, professors constantly ask students to connect what they are learning to their own lives, and to share those connections.

If you stick around CMU beyond class times, you become familiar with another place of vulnerability – the many student council events on campus, from the GOlympics, to coffee houses, to Film 60. Though these events are definitely aimed to provide student entertainment, there is something else going on in these spaces. It’s obvious when you see student Zach Stefaniuk perform at a coffee house, as he pipes up on a goofy song, and brings a room to a roar of laughter like only he can.

And then there are music students: they start out understandably timid in their first Thursday recital, and blossom into fine, expressive performers by the time their grad performance rolls around. 

At coffeehouses, recitals, and everything in between, students are opening themselves up to potential praise and critique. Yet students keep signing up and showing up!  They seem to like making themselves vulnerable and equally appreciate it when others do the same.

Not all acts of vulnerability are as public as the classroom or CMU events though. A space where I have seen the most vulnerability is on the volleyball team.

Jason Friesen - The courage to be vulnerable (The CMU mens volleyball team line up for a team photo after winning the MCAC championships for the second year in a row.)

This past year, our team committed to doing weekly Bible studies. We read scripture, watched videos of athletes like MLB pitcher Clayton Kershaw and NHLer Mike Fisher tell their faith stories, and shared of our own experiences. And I know for a fact that we were not the only group of students doing this on campus.

Whether through fellowship groups or late night discussions in a residence lounge, signs of this type of vulnerability are scattered throughout campus, sometimes hidden in spaces most will never see.  

What is significant about these examples is that only the first scenario involves CMU faculty or staff directly. The other examples show students choosing to put themselves in vulnerable spaces. The culture of the classrooms at CMU encourages students to be vulnerable and to walk alongside others as they do the same. This culture fosters that type of living throughout students’ lives!    

We live in an age with many examples of strength associated with power and dominance. But CMU is a university that cultivates students to challenge the norm, to think critically about what we see in the world, and to draw our values from scripture rather than popular culture.

The Theologies of Power course with Irma Fast Dueck, and a reading from theologian Walter Wink’s “Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence”, follow that trend. The belief that the ends can justify any amount of violent means surrounds us in films, TV shows, and almost every story we encounter. But not the narrative of scripture. Jesus lived a life full of courage and strength, yet none of it revolved around the type of power we are used to. Instead, he showed strength through coming to earth as a child and living a life of service, and he showed courage through sacrificing his life for us. I can think of no better examples of courage and strength, and at the same time can’t fathom any greater displays of vulnerability.

Author and theologian C.S.Lewis perhaps puts it best. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” My hope is that as each of us branch out from CMU into the world, we would take the risk that Lewis is talking about.

We come to CMU as vulnerable newcomers, and when it comes time to leave, we will walk into many more situations that need vulnerable people. A friend of mine, accompanies her email signature with a quote that reads,  “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

Are you willing to be uncomfortable? Are you willing to grow? Because that’s exactly what courage, strength, love, and vulnerability call for.  Embrace that and continue to create those vulnerable spaces.

Jason Friesen wearing his black graduation cap and gown on the day of his graduation from CMU's Communications and Media program.Jason Friesen is a 2018 graduate of CMU’s Communications and Media program, and this year’s Valedictorian. He was also the lead blogger for #myCMUlife in the 2017-18 school year, and this post was adapted from his valedictory address.

Studying the In Between: CMU’s Communications and Media Program

When I entered university, I had my plan all set. I was going to spend a couple of years at CMU taking science courses, and then get a degree in Kinesiology elsewhere. That plan didn’t last long. It took me only one year to realize that a degree in the sciences was not for me. It was not that I did poorly in the sciences, but it just wasn’t something I wanted to make a career out of. Having always enjoyed writing, I decided to try some communications and media classes in my second year. That change in direction turned into my major.

Jason Friesen - Studying the In Between: CMU’s Communications and Media Program

Studying communications is not like studying anything else. Whereas most majors in the sciences and arts look at the final product of information, communications studies stops before making it to the final product, to study how that information gets relayed and passed along.

With courses on radio, live streaming, sound production, video making, journalism, and graphic design, CMU gives a broad sweep of different technical skills that are valuable to anybody who wants a job in communications.

There are many ways to relay messages in today’s age, and CMU does a fantastic job of introducing students to many of those forms. With courses on radio, live streaming, sound production, video making, journalism, and graphic design, CMU gives a broad sweep of different technical skills that are valuable to anybody who wants a job in communications. In talking to various communications professionals, it’s obvious that multimedia is important in today’s world, so learning a variety of skills is important.

CMU enables communications grads to not only produce content, but to actually think critically about what they and others are producing, and what the effects are on society.

CMU doesn’t merely teach you the “hard” skills of communications, though. They  focus on the “soft” side as well. You get to analyze why you use these skills, and how to use them in an ethical and life-giving way. Through learning about things like new media, Christianity in the mass media, and politics in the mass media through theory courses, CMU enables communications grads to not only produce content, but to actually think critically about what they and others are producing, and what the effects are on society.  

Jason Friesen - Studying the In Between: CMU’s Communications and Media Program

On top of all this, a communications degree at CMU is not just a two-year program that teaches you only about communications. You need to take electives and courses outside of your major to fulfil the degree. This forces you to study other topics, and see how other disciplines look at the world. And as communications professor David Balzer said to me, “You’ll never communicate about communicating in the real world. You’ll communicate about business, biology, mathematics, psychology, and so on.” Good communication doesn’t just require knowledge of how to relay a message; it requires knowledge about what you’re talking about.

Combining all that you learn in the class with a practicum placement really rounds out the program. I have spent time at practicums first at Manitoba Public Insurance and now at True North Sports + Entertainment this year, and both experiences have allowed me to learn lessons I never would in the classroom.

The communications program helped me to realize the direction I want to go for a career in communications, and I’ve seen myself grow as a communicator to the point where I feel confident I’ll find work after graduation.

Jason Friesen is our lead blogger, and he’s in his final year of a Communications and Media degree at CMU.

Meet the blogger: Five things you need to know

Jason Friesen at CMU on the bridge to Marpeck Commons

Whether you’re a student, staff, alumnus, or friend of CMU, welcome to another school year at CMU.

My name is Jason Friesen, and I’m the primary blogger for #myCMUlife this year.

Some of you may know me, but some of you likely don’t. This seems like a good chance to introduce myself, so here are five things you probably want to know about me before you start reading my blogs.

1)    Who the heck is this guy?
Well, I said my name already. But on top of that, I’m a proud Winnipegger, have grown up in the Mennonite tradition, and I’ve got one older brother.

2)    How well does this guy know the CMU community?
I’d say I know it pretty well! I’m now in my fifth and final year at CMU. Though I was a commuter student for my first four years, I found ways to stay connected to the community, such as playing on the men’s volleyball team (which I still play on). But I now live on campus, so I’ll be spending plenty of time around the CMU community by nature of where I live this year.

3)    Is this guy even good at writing?
Well, I suppose you can be the judge of that. But if it comforts you at all, I’m a Communications and Media student at CMU. Most of my degree has consisted of classes that focus on things like journalism and communication theory.  I’ve had the opportunity to put the skills I’ve learned in these courses into practice by writing for The Doxa, as well as working as a journalist for the Winnipeg Sun this past summer. So hopefully I’ve learned some things from those experiences.
 
4)    What does this guy like to do in his spare time?
Jason Friesen at the mens volleyball final.I’ll be honest, I’m a huge sports fan. I love to play sports (particularly volleyball) and I love to watch sports (particularly the Winnipeg Jets). But I like to think I’m not one-dimensional. I also love music. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a fantastic performer of music, you will probably see me singing along in chapel, or singing to the radio in my car. But I sure do love to listen to it!

5)    What’s been the biggest thing I’ve learned through my CMU experiences so far?
Everybody has a story to tell, and everybody has a story worth telling. I truly believe that if told well, anybody’s story can be intriguing. So many of us think that our stories are not unique, or not worthy of sharing. But if you look at them from the proper angle, and use the right words, you can turn what you might think is an ordinary story into something people can’t wait to read or hear!

From Outtatown to CMU – finding the perfect fit

From Outtatown to CMU - finding the perfect fit

Hey I’m Cole! I’m from Victoria, British Columbia, and I am very excited to be coming to CMU next year! I recently returned from South Africa where I had the time of my life with Outtatown, and now I’ve chosen to continue with this amazing school for further studies. Some may call me crazy for deciding to trade in BC’s beautiful coastline, and mild weather, for Manitoba’s harsh, cold winters, and flat prairie land. But I do believe CMU is where I’m supposed to be. (Plus, I think it’ll be good for me to experience a true Canadian winter).

During our first semester of Outtatown, we spent quite a bit of time in Winnipeg. Every time I was on campus at CMU, I felt a sense of warmth and friendliness. Whether staff or students, every single person I met was so welcoming and kind. The experience honestly made CMU feel like a second home to me.

In the past, I considered different schools, but they never seemed right for me. CMU is different though – it’s definitely the perfect fit. The fact that it’s a smaller school has an obvious impact on the sense of community. I’m excited to be attending a school where I’m not just a number, where people know my name, and care to know me as an individual.

In terms of program, I’ll be studying Communications and Media. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but communications and journalism were both prominent options. While our Outtatown crew was in Hope, BC, we had a visit from the fantastic Danielle Bailey, (Enrolment Coordinator at CMU). She mostly came to hang out, but she also came to talk about CMU, and answer any questions we had. I brought up my interest in journalism and communications, and she told me all about CMU’s communications and media program. I was interested, but as the semester got busy, I sort of left it on the back burner. Over Christmas break, I prayed about what I should do, and sensed God pointing me to this program.

During our second semester in South Africa, we were lucky to have Mike Wiebe (CMU Admissions Counselor) and Paul Peters (Outtatown Program Manager) visit us in Soweto. I talked to Mike a lot about the program. He highly recommended it, so I filled out the forms right there!

From Outtatown to CMU - finding the perfect fitI am very thankful for the sense of community at CMU, and I’m also grateful for the opportunity to attend a school that is faith-based. I hope to enrich my relationship with God alongside Christian brothers and sisters. To have the freedom to do this at university, to be encouraged to do so, is invaluable, and I think, quite uncommon in our society today.

All this is to say, I am absolutely positive that this is where God has led me, and I am so very excited to start a new chapter at CMU! See you in the fall!

Cole Stewart is starting his journey at CMU in the fall, majoring in Communications and Media.

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

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