Ending racism, building peace

By Geoffrey Diesel and Kathy Doherty, co-founders of the Racial Equity Project

The two of us met as Rotary Peace Fellows during the inaugural cohort of Peace Activators in North America. We made a commitment to provide training, education, and support to the Rotary family on the framework of Positive Peace. The initiative grew out of Rotary’s strategic partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a global think tank dedicated to measuring Positive Peace defined as the “attitudes, institutions, and structures that uphold peaceful societies.”

Peace activators in the US were already addressing racism in this country, but the murder of George Floyd in 2020 served as catalyst for further action. In October of that year, we co-founded the Racial Equity Project (REP), a subcommittee of peace activators in North America, committed to studying ways to create a more peaceful society through antiracism.

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How I found a sense of belonging in Rotary

Maricler Botelho de Oliveria, left, takes part in a program promoting Rotary in Brazil.
Maricler Botelho, right, takes part in a program promoting Rotary in Brazil. Maricler says the support and acceptance she has found in Rotary has given her a sense of belonging and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to inclusion.

By Maricler Botelho, a member of the Rotary Club of Marilia-Pioneiro, and assistant governor of District 4510

When I share my Rotary story, it is one of recognition, support, and acceptance. I believe it also tells the story of Rotary’s commitment to inclusion.

I was born in Tupi Paulista, in the countryside of São Paulo, and grew up in the northern part of the state of Mato Grosso, in the city of Juara. I come from a simple family that set a high value on respecting others. I had to move about 600 miles away from my town to pursue my desire to be a lawyer. I’m the first on my mother’s side of the family to get a college degree. Our socioeconomic status created real limitations, which is why I grew up accepting a feeling that I didn’t really belong. Then I was introduced to Rotary.

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Pioneering diversity and inclusion in Cupertino

Rotary Club of Cupertino
Members of the Rotary Club of Cupertino during a visit by 2021-22 District Governor Richard Flanders.

By Hung Wei, past president of the Rotary Club of Cupertino, California, USA, and District 5170 Governor-Nominee

When members in my district think of past district governor Don Allen, we remember a generous, kind, and intelligent person. This gentleman was a pioneer in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) by growing Rotary’s impact through encouraging Rotary clubs to reflect their community.

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Creating a welcoming club environment

Tom Gump at IA
Tom Gump addresses incoming leaders at the International Assembly in January.

By Tom Gump, past governor of District 5950, and a Member of Rotary International’s Membership Growth Committee

I love August because it is the time of year when Rotary looks seriously at the topic of membership. We are a membership organization and as such, we need members to grow and expand our impact. Service is the avenue by which we make a lasting impact in our communities and how we keep our members engaged.

There are at least three methods of strengthening membership. We can pour energy into attracting new members. We can focus on engaging existing members. And we can form new clubs that serve distinct needs and serve as a magnet for attracting still more members. At different times and places, our Rotary International presidents have focused on all of these aspects of membership.

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Rotary in Australia on the road to reconciliation

Senior Kaurna Man
Mickey O’Brien, senior Kaurna Man, welcomes Rotary members to Kaurna country during a July 2021 event launching the Rotaract Club of Adelaide City, South Australia, Reconciliation Action Plan.

By Katey Halliday, Rotaract Club of Adelaide City, South Australia, Australia, and a member of Rotary International’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce

As a leading community service organisation, Rotary absolutely has a role to play in advancing reconciliation efforts. We exist to serve the community, and to do this well, we must have an understanding and appreciation for Indigenous communities.

Australia is made up of hundreds of different Indigenous nation groups; each with their own culture, customs, language, and laws. Based on Kaurna land on the Adelaide Plains, the Adelaide City Rotaract Club are the first within Rotary to have developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), endorsed by the not-for-profit organisation Reconciliation Australia.

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Performing under pressure

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Like countless others, I watched, read, and listened in impotent and morbid fascination at the horrors unfolding in Ukraine. But one rather different interview caught my ear, while listening to the BBC.

It was the manager of the Ukrainian winter Paralympic team, still competing in Beijing at the time. Speaking in fluent English, with exhausted clarity and indelible sadness etched into every syllable, he tried to articulate how the team members were feeling about their country literally disintegrating in their absence.

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Peace within, peace between, peace among

Brian Rusch

Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the fifth in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.

Brian Rusch has managed organizations for Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. With the knowledge he learned from them, he has created programs to inspire youth to explore ethics and how to reshape conversations on peace, equality, and forgiveness. A Rotary Youth Exchange student, he became a Rotary member in his 20s and helped create Rotary’s first LGBT-cultured club. Read his full bio.

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Paws for thought

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

“Ok, left, left, good boy!”
“Find the pole, find the pole, good boy!”
“Wait, ok, forward.”
“Find the kerb (curb), good boy.”
Find the pole, good boy!”
“Forward, find the kerb, good boy!”
“Straight on, no, find the kerb, forward, good boy!”
“Left, left, good boy.”
“Straight on, good boy!”
“No, we are not going right here, straight on, good boy.”
“Clever boy!” “Good boy!”
“Yes! Good boy!”
“Yes, you are such a clever boy!”

And with that, we had arrived at our destination. This is the exact conversation I have with my guide dog Ronnie when we are walking to a Rotary friend’s home every Tuesday and Thursday.

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Being a good ally to those with disabilities

By S Marathe (full name withheld upon author’s request)

As a young Rotary member who has lived with a vision impairment, I have come to understand the importance of allies. An ally is anyone that actively aspires to be inclusive and is intentional through their thoughts, actions, and words to consciously promote a respectful and inclusive culture.

Many organizations are actively attempting to address the low employee representation across minority groups of gender, culture, and disability and are adopting a range of strategies. But many times, it’s the day-to-day actions that make the most difference. For International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December, I wanted to share some of the characteristics that make a great ally. Continue reading

Is it the truth?

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Like countless others I imagine, I watched the compelling events to celebrate the birthday of Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu, or as he is also fondly known, “The Arch.”

What struck me almost immediately was how the messages from the internationally respected leaders departed from the usual gushy sentimental birthday tributes so loved by celebrities. After short heartfelt tributes to their dearest Arch, South African Professor Thuli Madonsela; Graça Machel, widow of two heads of state (Nelson Mandela and Mozambique’s Samora Machel); and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and past UN Special Advisor on the Environment, all leapt straight in with some serious no holds barred truth telling.

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