In his five years since graduating, Brian Honerbaum (’16) has become a worldly and accomplished teacher. Though he started his teaching career in Dubuque at Hempstead High School, he’s taught in Ukraine, Dubai, Vietnam, and virtually in China. With a great passion for history, Brian has been able to take his own experience in the classroom and his time traveling the world to inform his teaching. However, his ability to adapt to new environments began during his time at Loras. “I’ve learned a lot from classes and clubs like Business Ethics with Dr. Roman Ciapalo, Education Club, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and Habitat for Humanity,” Brian started. “I feel that helped keep my education well-rounded and helped me to adapt to different places.”
With many changes in sight, there was a concern that there would be a seismic cultural shift moving from Hanover, Illinois to Dubai. However, as Brian recalls: “There wasn’t much of a shift. Instead of 90°F heat, there was 120°F heat.” Aside from the heat and humidity, however, there was a great deal of exciting food to try, landscapes to explore, and history to learn. “One staple restaurant that my colleagues and I went to a lot, was called Sticky Rice,” Brian recalled of the entirely duck-themed restaurant. “It had great food and just such a happy Duck mascot!” After a year in Dubai, Brian reflected on his plethora of experiences. Specifically, on the vast differences that he saw throughout the Emirates. “Some areas were ultra-modern and then other areas hardly had running water.”
With his experience in Dubai behind him and the adventure in Vietnam ahead of him, Brian’s experience in Ukraine was top of mind. Spending three consecutive summers teaching in Ukraine, Brian had an opportunity to experience first-hand a culture unlike any he’d experienced up to that point in his life. “It was very much culture-oriented in Ukraine.” With all the people he had met, from students to community members, there was something that Brian recalled hearing: “this is our culture, and we want you to experience it.” It was Brian’s time spent in Ukraine that helped him find the perfect crossroad between his passions of traveling and teaching.
All Brian’s worldly traveling, experiences, and jobs stemmed from his time spent at Loras. “I went to Northeastern Iowa Community College before I transferred into Loras,” Brian started. “One of my buddies that I worked with, Josh Arnold (’17),said that I really needed to check out Loras because of how much he loved his experience.” After registering for classes, Brian recalls the countless faculty members who helped shape some of the most formative years. With Bishop William Joenson, Dr. Mark Kehren, Dr. Hillarie Welsh, and countless other influential professors, Brian still references what he learned in all his various classrooms today. Even before his time at Loras, his middle school teacher Mike Klippert was the first person to encourage him to not only pursue a college degree but one specifically for History Education.
Like many of our Duhawk Dozen, Brian has done an incredible job staying in touch with his friends and classmates, and he left our listeners with one last sage piece of advice. “I always thought it was a two-way street: if they want to talk to me, then they’ll talk to me,” Brian started. “That was the worst mentality to have – just shoot that message, send an email, make a phone call. Most people are going to be happy to catch up.”