Rachel Crowe

The year before beginning her undergraduate degree at Western, Rachel Crowe, BSc’00, traveled abroad for the first time and discovered a passion for different cultures and connecting with people.  

“I took a gap year and that was my first experience with traveling internationally, getting to see very different parts of the world and understanding other perspectives and cultures,” said Crowe, who grew up in London and now lives and works in Toronto as a project manager at the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). “It was a great way to gain more insight, deepen my understanding and challenge assumptions I might have had about the world.” 

Once at Western, Crowe majored in sociocultural anthropology. She was drawn to volunteer with the International Peer Guide program because of the opportunity to provide support to new international students. 

“I had been enjoying my time at Western. But I really missed meeting people from all over the world, as I’d done in my gap year. And I could also relate to that feeling of disorientation while trying to find my footing in another country and I wanted to help. The peer guide program seemed like a good opportunity to do both of those things: to connect with people who were interested in the wider world, and then also to help people find their bearings in my hometown.” 

Crowe’s desire to help “bridge connections” led her to seek opportunities to work with new Canadians, first in a part-time student role with Western’s International and Exchange Student Centre (IESC) and then returning to fill a temporary full-time position as the IESC Program Coordinator responsible for leading the Peer Guide program, a few years after graduating from Western.   

“It really resonated with me as meaningful work. I could see that I could help make a difference and make things better for people,” said Crowe, who also completed a master's degree from York University focused on intercultural communication and online media. 

“After completing my master’s, I was able to use that knowledge and enter a new job where I created and facilitated training for employers around navigating cultural differences in the workplace and better leveraging the skills and talents of immigrant professionals. I’ve continued that work and have also provided consultation support on workplace equity, inclusion and diversity.” 

As a participant in one of the first few cohorts of the peer guide program nearly 30 years ago, Crowe says many of the skills she gained through her experiences with IESC seemed almost ahead of their time.

“Increasingly, employers are realizing the value of employees who have the skills to bridge differences and to work inclusively. Diversity is a reality in Canada, and the organizations that foster inclusion and equity, where everyone can do their best work and thrive, are the ones that are going to attract and keep the top talent.” 

“Even on an individual level, the daily actions that one person can take can be powerful and have a significant impact on someone else’s life, whether as a manager or leader, a team member or a friend. I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to volunteer with the Peer Guide program. I met a lot of truly incredible people and I feel like it really set me up for what I decided to take on after I graduated, both in my personal and professional life.”