Julia Crabbe

Leadership Facilitator, WE Charity

I worked mostly providing leadership training to young people in North America. I also facilitated trips overseas. What I saw were young people having new and eye-opening experiences, being exposed to different ways of life. ME to WE trip participants get to focus on empathy and perspective. Whether it is the opportunity to get to know a classmate in a different context, bonding over the discovery of their political voices or listening to a community member in another country explain their daily life to you over a meal, when we further develop empathy and perspective our minds expand. I think that is an opportunity WE provides for many people.

Working at WE was the first time I felt powerful and truly competent. I was trusted with big projects, offered challenging opportunities and given the resources and encouragement I needed to accomplish my goals. One of the great things about WE is that it never underestimates young people—it provides staff with space and opportunity to do big things. I have carried the confidence I gained at WE through all of my subsequent experiences.

More than being a part of any big event, I am most proud of the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with young people across North America while providing leadership training. I feel proud that I was able to sit with young people and listen to their ideas, their perspectives and to be a friend to them when they may not have had many others who were listening.

The organization has grown immensely since I started at WE. I began volunteering at the age of 16, in 2002, when the organization was still called Free the Children (and Leaders Today). When I started working full-time we were a staff of 12 or so, and still sometimes worked out of Theresa and Fred Kielburger’s house in Thornhill. The scope of the organization has grown immensely, the name of the organization has changed, and the kinds of programming and services offered have grown.

Two things stand out to me about my time at WE. First is the incredible scope of what can be accomplished by young people when provided with the opportunity and the organizational support. While at WE, over and over again small groups of teammates accomplished impressive, large-scale, complex goals. It was hard work, but teamwork and camaraderie pulled us through. The second thing I reflect on are the lasting friendships. I have met the best friends of my life by working at WE, and for that I am forever grateful.

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