Posted by Daniel Joraanstad on Jan 28, 2024
The Rotary Club of San Francisco recently hosted another event in a string of successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion activities. On January 21, we celebrated Turkish culture through the film My Grandfather's People by Çağan Irmak. The movie, exploring themes of family and migration, was followed by a vibrant discussion.
The film’s premise focused on what happened when suddenly everybody living in Greece who originally came from Turkey was dislocated and forced to return to Turkey, even if they had lived in Greece for 400 years. Likewise, Greeks who had lived in Turkey for hundreds of years were forced to leave for Greece. There were many complex issues of religion, family, land ownership, ethnicity, all of which were supposedly settled by the compulsory exchange of Greek and Turkish populations. What was certainly true is that this ethnic cleansing brought heartbreak to many families.
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scott PlakunThe film fulfilled one of the goals of the DEI Committee, which is to raise awareness, understanding, and appreciation of other cultures. We were suddenly aware of a compelling issue of the early twentieth century which continues to have ramifications to this day.

After the movie, everyone enjoyed a delicious Turkish dinner catered by Troya Mediterranean Kitchen. We had a diverse range of traditional dishes including the popular moussaka. This favorite food points to the film’s subject matter. Is moussaka Turkish or is it Greek? On one thing we could all agree, the participants loved the authentic and generous banquet, but maybe not the turnip juice!
We had a great turnout including Rotarians from other clubs. We also had visitors who were not Rotarians. So, the excellent storytelling in the film had an impact on many people. That is the Rotarian way….to have an impact on our communities. Attendees expressed appreciation for the thoughtful film, excellent banquet, and the welcoming space for diverse perspectives.

Special thanks to the DEI Committee for their ongoing excellence in contributions. Particular thanks to Merve and Ozan Yasavur who led the event.