Coffee Chat with International Zoroastrian Youth - Danny Master
“Never underestimate the power of one. If you have a calling to add value to your community, start right away. Permit yourself to begin, create, and collaborate with like-minded people to build on that idea if needed.” – Danny
Can you please tell us about yourself? (brief background)
I'm 33, and by the time I was 16, I had already lived in four countries. I spent most of my adult life in New Zealand with my family. Picked up a Commerce degree and a Post Grad Diploma in Management along the way, while working in the IT Sales sector. 4 years ago, I decided to move to London, UK, seeking adventure and growth. Turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life as I got married, sunk my teeth further into the IT industry, started a karate and fitness side-hustle, and collaboratively started a Zoroastrian angled podcast with a few close friends.
You've lived in over 5 countries; Can you highlight some differences and similarities overall that you’ve experienced through your eventful journey?
The Parsi cultural identity, which I'm far more familiar with than the Iranian Zoroastrian identity, is very distinct no matter which part of the world you're in. One of the wisest choices my parents made was to immerse our family of four in with the local Zoroastrian communities, be that in Bombay, Bahrain, Dubai or Auckland. Looking back on it, I think it was their way of giving my sister and myself a consistent community experience, no matter which part of the world we were in. That and Zoros know how to have fun.
However, while we all smile and have fun the same way, how we communicate, resolve conflict, or get things done varies depending on which part of the world you're in. That's where you start seeing shades of the local area you're in. And because it's such a subconscious difference, almost no one can prepare you for it.
Have you always wanted to get involved with the Zoroastrian community wherever you’ve lived?
This is something I grew into. Community work can often be as intimidating as learning a new language - you want to say the right things the right way. It just started making sense for me to start somewhere over the last couple years, be comfortable making mistakes and learning from them, and trusting that what I had to say or so would be received in good faith and understanding.
Why do you like to get involved, what drives you, and when did you start?
Emulating one of my idols and Sensei, Mr. Adil Sarkari, who for the last 20+ years, has run a community focused dojo in Auckland NZ, I started offering Karate Classes to the Zoroastrian community in Central London early 2020, with the full support of the ZTFE. When the classes were unceremoniously discontinued at the time due to the initial Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, I realised that I enjoyed bringing people together and adding value to their physical and mental wellbeing. This has led me to continue sessions over Zoom, while also teaching and training newer students face-to-face as lockdown restrictions eased over the past few months.
Concurrently, my new London friends and I also wanted to start having an open discussion about current and Zoroastrian-centric events/topics, which led to the collaborative creation of Zoroverse podcasts (Season 1 available on Youtube and Spotify).
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
Broadly, the organisational structure has been a challenge. If sub-committees are tasked with responsibilities, they should also be enabled with autonomy and authority.
What are your plans/hopes for the future for the Zoroastrian community in the UK and globally?
I hope to be part of a change in our community towards open-minded dialogue and mindsets, where the organisational structures are meritocratic.
How would you encourage the youth to get involved and what programs would you suggest they could start with? Local volunteering, World Zoroastrian Youth Congress participation, etc.?
Know yourself first. You are the most important person so focus on what you can contribute that also makes YOU grow. Is it a helping hand, skill, ability, or experience etc. Once you know what makes you happy and helps you grow, you can then start socialising with the community to identify like-minded people who you can respect, be friends with, and work with. Start small, be respectful, and keep asking questions.
What advice would you give our youth in order to inspire them to serve the community in their respective countries?
Never underestimate the power of one. If you have a calling to add value to your community, start right away. Permit yourself to begin, create, and collaborate with like-minded people to build on that idea if needed.
Thank you, Danny, for your continued community service and for inspiring future leaders.
We wish you all the best!