Just having the Academy does not mean that our company is diverse. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a two-way street, and there are huge gaps in the exchange, on both sides. Fellows struggle with keeping current on events in Stuttgart or in Germany, especially during this year of the pandemic. Transsolarians generally and understandably have a limited appetite for adapting themselves to people, whose reactions they do not understand fully, yet are asked to train. We have learned over the years that personal and cultural differences between us can be an obstacle to successful collaborations.
However, where there are challenges, there are opportunities. Stories can bring people together; so can current and historical events. Presenting a perspective or some information, explaining its context, and why it is important, has multiple benefits: it can not only help to create and strengthen relationships, it also allows people to work on presentation skills, and can encourage people to be more media-savvy and to think more critically.
This is how the Knowledge Potluck was born – the Academy Fellows organized the first session on December 14th. Each presenter got 2-3 minutes to present something from their country of origin. The speakers for our first session were Ana Diaz, Ketan Avhad, Luke Kencana, Michelle Hur and Francis Fotsing. The variety of topics ranged from Mayan civilization and rubber balls weighing pounds, the colourful Diwali festival, the giant national flower of Indonesia with the smell of carrion, the personal meaning of the Christmas season, and wanderlust-stimulating fresh impressions of a trip to Tanzania.
Thirty people attended on Monday at 17:00 CET, 11:00 EST for the 30 minutes. In the future, externals will also be invited, including the TSA alumni. The first session was a real success – can we keep up the momentum?