Michael Cooke

During my time as CCI’s Executive Director, a filmmaker was being interviewed on CBC Radio about her documentary that was inspired by her Crossroads experience. She announces to the broadcaster that Crossroads is an organization that sends young people overseas and in a nutshell, screws up their heads and then helps them straighten their thinking out when they get home. While the description on national radio made us cringe, she was essentially right. We came to the same conclusion ourselves.

We were trying to develop a new logo for the organization, so we did a cross Canada study with Crossroaders asking them to reflect on their experiences. At the end of our consultation, their feedback boiled down to one simple idea – it was an experience that changed lives.

I think of Crossroads as an educational experience that forms people. They live experiences and make relationships that shape how they act and think for the rest of their lives. As a result, they have a new and radically different understanding of how the world is organized and where they sit in the world both as individuals and Canadian citizens. They return reflecting on what their priorities need to be, given the state of the world we live in.

Lewis Perinbam, the pioneer who played an instrumental role is shaping Canada’s approach to international development, always said that in order to understand Canada, one has to leave Canada and see it from the outside. It’s true. Crossroaders return to Canada with this bigger vision and understanding of their own country. They take their transformation experiences on whatever life path they choose.

Crossroads is a dynamic organization that’s been growing and changing and will continue to grow and change. But we have to stay rooted in the vision and values James Robinson had for the organization which has strengthened people and relationships for fifty years now. I hope Crossroads continues to build the political will of Canadians to do our part and even more than our part in creating a just and sustainable world. I’m not sure how much of that language James Robinson would have used, but I know that’s what he believed.

Michael Cooke is the Vice-President of Academic Excellence and Student Success at George Brown College in Toronto


Crossroads International gratefully acknowledges the support of: