Rotary District 7040’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee seeks to help clubs and their members  advance diversity, equity and inclusion within our district, our clubs, our membership, the individuals we touch, and the communities we serve. Join us at 7:00pm the third Monday of each month on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84234784167, Meeting ID: 842 3478 4167, Passcode: 897146
 
When I hear people describe me as “diverse,” I say, “Yes, and much more!” Let me start by saying that, growing up in the Middle East, I had the impression that all women were strong survivors and decision-makers. My grandmother and mother, despite their traditional roles, certainly were family leaders. It seemed like a natural inheritance from the days of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. My father and my faith also supported my sense of empowerment. As early as the age of 13, I had a clear say in all family decisions; my opinion was independent and as important as my brother’s. Before traveling, I was advised to “be professional, be proud, work hard and let your actions speak for themselves,” as if the world was ready for me!  
 
Traveling brings people together. Nadia (on left) met three Rotary exchange students in a recent Rotary conference in Toronto. 
 
Voyager rapproche les gens. Nadia (à gauche) a rencontré trois étudiants d'échange du Rotary lors d'une récente conférence du Rotary à Toronto.
 
 
 
Not every club, nor every Rotarian, agrees that a proactive anti-racism statement is a necessity at this time in history.  Nevertheless, Rotary International has released a statement [1] asserting Rotary’s commitment to anti-racism.  Clubs can use this statement as inspiration for discussion, or a model for developing their own locally focused statement.
 
Some Rotarians may feel that they are not biased, but everyone has bias woven into themselves.  The Harvard Implicit Bias project [2] offers free online tests to help you uncover your hidden biases.   What do you do when a scientific test reveals you have a slight bias against a certain group?
Through Rotary, Rotaract and Interact, there are several different generations who work to support their communities around the world. Whether it is through culture, style and communication, there can be a lot said about the differences between each generation. These age gaps provide unique complications but can also be used to work together in a very collaborative way.
 
As we have learned through COVID-19, communication styles and the way we depend on technology have changed exponentially. Now, Millennials and Gen Z are well accustomed to technology as it has been accessible through growing up. So, adapting to the necessary online format of classes and Zoom calls was more straightforward. However, I think that one thing we can all agree on, no matter the age, is that it was still a huge adjustment for everyone. Staring at a computer screen all day definitely takes a toll on motivation, energy and how you relate to the world. However, Rotarians, Rotaractors and Interactors all rose to the challenge, to learn new skills in order to remain serving their community.
 
Recently someone asked me why I put “aspiring anti-racist” in my bio. It’s because no matter my good intentions, I am constantly slipping up. The other day I, a white American-born woman, was serving a family of dark-skinned people at the health food store where I sometimes work. They had accents, and I guessed they were continental Indian but did not speak that thought. We chatted about the local cheese they were buying, rhapsodized about the taste of the sungold tomatoes, and the mother and I discussed the merits of kombucha.  Then my curiosity got the better of me and I asked, “Where are you visiting from?” The mother and I had been looking at each other as I spoke, and her eyes flickered away, and her face changed from relaxed to tight. I knew I’d done it again.  Unintentional microaggression. 
 
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Rotary International just issued language strengthening its statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). You can read it here. That update says Rotary is: “...committed to being honest and transparent about where we are in our DEI journey as an organization, and to continuing to learn and do better.”
 
How can our clubs take, action “…so that each person has the necessary access to resources, opportunities, networks, and support to thrive.” How can we individual Rotarians help to create an inclusive culture where each person knows they are valued and belong? Educate yourself. Talk with others. Expand your knowledge and strengthen your and your club's comittment to diversity, equity and inclusion by registering for the September 17th DTA session and attending monthly DEI committee meetings.
By Dârini Vedarattiname, Club Rotaract de l'île de Montréal
 
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Back in 2016, I welcomed PSTD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) into my life. That new friend settled in with two sidekicks: Anxiety Disorder and Depression. It took me about three years to learn to live with it. Here are a few tips from my humble experience of what to do and not do when interacting with someone facing mental health struggles.