PROFile: ‘Everyone has a story to tell’

Robyn Flisfeder, Rhetoric, Writing and Communications instructor

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Originally from Toronto, Robyn Flisfeder moved to Winnipeg with her husband Matthew and their two children in 2016. Her spouse is a researcher and associate professor in the same communications department at the University of Winnipeg.

Flisfeder says her faculty position combines two of her passions: writing and being an instructor.

“I’ve always been a strong writer. I’ve done a lot of research, and I love teaching. It just seemed like an amazing opportunity to put all my skills to good use. I’ve been editing and teaching how to write essays for so many years,” Flisfeder says.

While obtaining her master’s degree in sociology, she worked on an intriguing project.

“I really used the situation of transnational adoption of abandoned baby girls in China due to that country’s one-child policy as a case study for examining inequality and the intersections of race, class, nationality and gender in the context of globalization,” Flisfeder says.

As an educator, she uses a critical-thinking lens, encouraging students to gain insights by exploring the complexities of an issue.

“It’s really about developing your perspective as a writer and as a scholar. It’s about the insights you bring to the writing,” Flisfeder says.

The empathy, inclusion and activism she brings to the classroom arise from her background and experience.

“I’m Jewish, and (we’re) obviously a very targeted group of people. In growing up with that idea, knowing about the Holocaust and the importance of treating people with respect and dignity and breaking down barriers to success and achievement” helped inform these teaching strategies, Flisfeder says.

With Matthew, she co-authored a chapter entitled “Bionic Parenting” for the Parenting Internet Kids book. “Our chapter is based on our experience with having a child with Type 1 diabetes. It explores the enabling possibilities of technology for people with disabilities and their caregivers,” Flisfeder says.

What do you think is the best thing about yourself?

“I can make people laugh. I think that really lifts people’s spirits.”

What book genres do you read?

“I focus on nonfiction. As a mother of two young children, I spend a lot of time reading about parenting.”

What is something you’ve learned about your students?

“Everyone has a story to tell.”

Published in Volume 77, Number 04 of The Uniter (September 29, 2022)

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