728 x 90

Achieving a new perspective

img

Bringing a new perspective to students is something every teacher should want to strive for. Being aware that there are other options and points of view to consider are all extremely valid and crucial parts of learning. Former Valley resident, Bryce Offenberger, has been teaching, using a couple of different  platforms, for over 15 years. Offenberger is currently a sessional instructor with the University of Manitoba and also a Muay Thai instructor “I don’t consider myself an individual who follows a certain career path,” stated Offenberger. “I do things that I find interesting and that have purpose behind them. 
After I graduated high school in Swan River, I pursued an undergrad degree. Instead of going into Law, I decided to keep on going with International Relations, specifically security and defense studies. I graduated with an Undergraduate and Master’s degree from the U of M.” Offenberger got to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), which was started in 1940 and hosts 4,500  participants a year. It’s a professional exchange program through the U.S. Department of State that brings emerging foreign leaders in different fields of expertise, to travel through the U.S. and here from
other professionals in a certain sector. The meetings or sessions held are to reflect on the participants’
professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the U.S. “I actually sit on a nongovernmental
organization called the Canadian International Council in the U of M faculty for the last couple of years,”
noted Offenberger. “One of the associates that sits on the executive works for the U.S. Consulate here in
Winnipeg. He brought the program to my attention and I applied. They go through the process to select
applicants who they feel would benefit from the IVLP and I was fortunate enough to be chosen.
“It’s a state department initiative and it brings individuals from different countries as part of various
projects. Normally they don’t bring in participants from Canada too often, because the whole idea is to not only get perspective from different individuals and countries alike, but also to inform them of what the U.S. is doing. I was part of a security and defense type of topic, but the program runs year round with a variety of different subject matter. 
“For the sessions in which I participated in, the content matter was split on policing and overall security and defense matters,” added Offenberger. “It was a month long venture across the U.S., where we visited New York City, D.C., Florida and different areas to speak to a wide variety of different individuals.”
Fifty participants were in the group with Offenberger and each one brought a diverse perspective and viewpoint to the topics presented on. All the presentations gave Offenberger a different point of view to consider and was an experience of a lifetime. “It was a really interesting experience for me and the information and subject matter fed nicely into all of the courses I teach at the U of M,” explained Offenberger.
“From a critical and analytical stand point; there are a lot of correlations that can be drawn from policing in the U.S. to here in Canada. I am not as in depth to the policing matters in Canada, but I am fairly knowledgeable in broad stroke terms. In saying that, I am not a police officer myself, so I don’t have that experience, but there are definitely a lot of interesting connections. What stood out for me the most was
how it’s a very diverse system across the board. Whether it’s talking about policing or counter terrorism, 
because in the U.S., every single state has their own policies and procedures. Here we have municipal
and federal policing, but in the U.S. they have highway patrols, sheriffs that are voted in and chief investigators.
So at any given time, they could have 10 different policing agencies present. To me this was really interesting to say the least and highlighted a number of different issues surrounding having so many organizations overlapping.” “I loved it all for it gave me a different perspective. I got to visit the  pentagon; received a briefing from the DEA; stopped at the World Trade Centre; and spoke with individuals who are with police departments in Alabama and Florida. A part of the program focused on discrimination and racial tensions, as we visited the Selma Bridge and visited the museum. Overall it
was great and I had the time of my life. “This all created so many diverse perspectives and for me teaching courses that are related such as American Foreign Defense Policies and Introduction to Comparative Politics, and even though it may not have a direct connection, having different viewpoints can add something. You can never gain too much perspective.” Alongside teaching at the university, Offenberger runs and teaches Muay Thai kickboxing through the Active Living Centre. This was the initial
step in his teaching career, which led him onto a greater path. “To illustrate my varied forms of teaching, I also run a Muay Thai kickboxing gym here at the U of M, for the last 17 years,” said Offenberger. “I was
teaching in the evenings and then I was operating as the Professor’s Assistant during my graduate schooling. So I have honed a good deal of my teaching in different capacities. Naturally people would think that the martial arts perspective wouldn’t have a lot to overlap in the academic part, but I think that any endeavor can be squeezed to get a number of things out of it. For me, it allowed a very fascinating way to test and polish theory and methodologies, even if I didn’t fully realize it at the time.
“After I finished grad school, I took a little bit of time off and continued teaching Muay Thai. I did a little travelling and lived in Germany for a year.
When I came back, I figured I did the Professor’s Assistant thing and I really enjoy teaching politics and the pursuit of power in its many facets, so I applied for a sessional teaching position. Over the years, I kept at it, applying for more courses and gradually, I have taught a whole wide range of things.”
Just this past year, Offenberger was awarded the 2020 Sessional Instructor of the Year award for the U of M. To have been recognized amongst all the other colleagues who strive for the best when it comes to bringing a higher level of learning to students, was something he was extremely honoured by.
“I have been teaching at the U of M now for four years, and I absolutely love it because it’s given me the ability to do what I’ve always wanted to do,” concluded Offenberger.
“It allows me to just keep learning as well as change the world, by allowing me to make those topics interesting to students who are willing and open to learn. “I really like to flex students’ critical analysis on
matters and ensure that every individual in the room finds a connection to the ideas at play. I don’t
want complacency with information in the style of teaching that I am trying to give. It’s not so important
that I impress my ideas on to students, but rather to show them there are some persuasive arguments 
and these are substantiations for them.
They don’t have to agree with me on many of these things, they just have to see the other perspective 
in it. If I can give that perspective out, I find it virtually a rewarding experience.”