Where We Stayed in Palestine

Hebron Palestine 2016

In February 2016 when traveling in Palestine, I had some hard priorities for where our group of TechWomen mentors stayed:

  1. Safety
  2. Cleanliness
  3. Wifi available
  4. Expense – affordability
  5. Charm, local style

Gaza City

In Gaza City, TechWomen Fellow Mai Temraz of Gaza SkyGeeks – MercyCorps kindly arranged for us to stay at the luxurious al-Mashtal Hotel (an ArcMed Hotel – on Salah Khalaf Street, in Gaza), on the beach in the north western area of the city. It was quiet and comfortable with ocean and city views. We could see the fishing boats going out in the morning (and clearly hear the morning Israeli rockets as well). The State of Qatar has its offices in this hotel.

Our group gave a series of presentations at the fancy Roots Hotel in Gaza City. Roots is located on the harbor and would have been more convenient for our meetings but all of the rooms were full for a big event when we were there. Roots has a very pleasant terrace cafe with good food and a waterfront view.

al-Mashtal Hotel, Gaza City, Palestine 2016

al-Mashtal Hotel view, Gaza City, Palestine 2016

Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem

Since we gave business and technical presentations in both Ramallah and Hebron, we decided to stay in Bethlehem, which is more or less between those two cities in the West Bank region.  Bethlehem is a mixed Christian and Muslim city and is close to Jerusalem, so it is easier to get out in case of trouble.  I posted more Bethlehem photos in my Three Border Walls blog post.  In Bethlehem, we were very graciously hosted by TechWomen Fellow Sandra Al-Arja, whose family owns several hotels.  We stayed in the Bethlehem Hotel (which is comfortable with lovely views over the city, near Manger Square) and also visited the Angel Hotel (which was full so we could not stay there).

Bethlehem Hotel key, Palestine 2016

Bethlehem Hotel view, Palestine 2016

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Teaching in Jail

Elmwood Jail, Milpitas California 2016

I have been developing an experimental Education for Ministry (EfM) program at Elmwood jail this year, with the support of the Rev. Peggy Byran and CIC Chaplain Jennifer Bales. Since 2015, I have been visiting the prisoners at Elmwood in Milpitas, California, as part of the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC). Worship in jail is one of the long-term outreach efforts of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Saratoga, CA.  The college-level EfM textbooks and program tuition funds for ten inmates were raised through strong support from the Right Reverend Bishop Mary Grey Reeves and St. Andrew’s Rector, the Rev. Channing Smith.  The University of the South – School of Theology EfM program itself supports prison ministry by giving a significant discount in book and tuition costs.  We  could not make this program work without the assistance of staff working in the Elmwood Correctional Complex.  I am thankful to all who are enabling our class to develop.  I have been an Accredited Mentor with EfM since 2011 and have been running a weekly seminar at St. Andrew’s since then.  Last year, I became the El Camino Real Diocesan Coordinator for EfM.

About EfM:

Education for Ministry (EfM) is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 80,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service. EfM helps the faithful encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together.

About CIC:

Our primary mission is to respond to the individual spiritual needs of incarcerated youth and adults in Santa Clara County and present the good news of God’s love and forgiveness. As people respond to the messages of faith, they can experience lives of purpose and hope.  Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy is a non-profit corporation, founded in 1962. CIC operates in cooperation with the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Department of Correction, Probation Department, and other government agencies as needed.

I go into Elmwood each week with Patrick Ryan, a St. Andrew’s parishioner who joined our class as a regular student.  I understand that are about 25 EfM seminars in prisons in the USA but ours seems to be the first class in a jail.  Inmates are at Elmwood for up to five years; many are still in the justice process, waiting for their cases to be heard or resolved.  My class is exploring how to run an EfM seminar in a jail, if it can even be done.  A primary difficulty of running a jail-based EfM class is that the seminar is nine months long and inmates often do not know how long they will be in for.  We began with ten registered men students at the start of March 2016.  Some have dropped out and others have joined, leaving us with eight students as of last week.

Since we are starting Week 7 (reading Exodus 1-15 in the Bible, plus Chapter 5 of Collins’ Introduction to the Hebrew Bible), I am not adding any more students – it will be too hard for them to catch up on the reading.  The students are energetic in raising questions and enthusiastic in our discussions.  I do not think any of them have been to college but they are all devoted readers of the Bible and have been doing their extensive homework reading each week. In addition to the assigned material, we are also working on study skills and learning to back opinions with material from the texts.  Two Elmwood inmates who were released in the first few weeks of class have come to services at St. Andrew’s and expressed interest in joining the parish-based EfM class when the next term starts in September.  Their faith and dedication to learning is inspiring.

Last week, I attended my annual CIC jail ministry training for volunteers.  With song and prayer and a interesting presentation by Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, about a hundred of us from dozens of faith communities renewed our connections and updated our understanding.  Last year’s speaker was the remarkable and inspiring Judge Stephen Manley, who has served on the bench in Santa Clara County for over 25 years and was a founder of the Drug Treatment Court as well as the Santa Clara County Mental Health Treatment Court.  CIC and EfM both run inspiring and life-changing programs. I hope we can create a long-term program that brings them together at Elmwood jail.

Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy training 2016

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Jail Volunteers 2016

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Jail Volunteers 2015

Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy leadership 2015

Images Copyright 2015-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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San Jose City Hall 1887, 1967, today

San Jose City Hall 1887, California

Born and raised in San Francisco, I have lived in San Jose, California, for over 15 years but am still learning its history.  Last summer I found some old postcards. Since we were downtown today, I took a photo for comparison:

  • Above is a postcard of the San Jose City Hall built in 1887 (which was torn down in 1958).
  • Directly Below is a postcard dated in August 1967 of the San Jose City hall with text: “This magnificent steel and glass structure has a curved design which has won nationwide acclaim.  Set amid pleasant lawns and beautiful gardens this ultra-modern building is the dominant structure in the new Governmental Civic Center.”  The building still exists at Hedding/Taylor but is no longer used as City Hall.
  • Lowest is today’s photo of the newest City Hall of the “Capital of the Silicon Valley” (first opened in 2005).

I have not been able to find any information about the mid-century City Hall other than this postcard.  Despite having “won nationwide acclaim” in its own time, it seems too recent to have a history…

San Jose City Hall 1967, California

San Jose City Hall 2005, California

Image Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Easter Egg Hunt 2016

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Sunday morning was our annual backyard Easter Egg Hunt – a very popular event among our friends, family, and neighbors. Children ages 20 months to 20 years joined the search for hundreds of plastic eggs filled with chocolate candies. For the adults, there were two specially hidden eggs: gold and silver. Only the following unreasonably-hard poems gave clues to their locations:

Silver Egg
(Hidden in the thatch of a jasmine vine on an arbor)
A Silvery Sonnet in Iambic Quadrameter

You’d have to share Bruce Banner’s height
to see me, though Scott Lang’s would do.
I spy Prince Adam’s gift and strong
John Henry’s lifelong deadly work;
those battlefield banner icons
of Henry IV and Richard III;
Cascadian separatists’
beloved Doug rises near me.
You Ravenclaws’ll examine text,
Those Gryffindors’ll fetch ladders,
Gauche Slytherins will counterfeit,
my badgers — Hufflepuffs — prevail!
I shine like the good captain’s shield,
keep on your search and don’t you yield!

Gold Egg
(taped to the top of a tree branch ten feet above the ground)
A Golden Sonnet in Rondel Form

From my stand I see tall privets
and high above me is a tree
above which trucks flew high & free
that now shade stones & thin rivlets.

You ate breakfast warm off trivets
while I perched here meek with glee
from my stand I see tall privets
and high above me is a tree.

My neighbor’s the joy of kid-lets
and grown-ups too shade in her lee
warm on her couch you can see me
above kitty’s curling ringlets.
From my stand I see tall privets.

Thanks to the Associate Easter Bunnies: my daughter Jessica for the poems, and son Paul who stuffed 775 eggs, and to John and Matthew and all the friends and family for helping create the festivities.  Such a delightful celebration of Spring and renewal!

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Three Border Walls

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Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down. …
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
– Robert Frost, 1914

After watching John Oliver’s 20 March 2016 comic-news analysis on the proposed Border Wall, I remembered the lines in “Mending Wall“, the first poem I read by the great American poet Robert Frost.  I have had experience with three border walls in recent years:

Israel-Palestine Wall – Bethlehem, 2016

Between the TechWomen Delegations to Jordan and Zimbabwe, last month a group of us visited Gaza and the West Bank in addition to more usual Israel-Palestine tourist locations such as Jerusalem and MasadaBethlehem is a mixed Muslim-Christian city in the West Bank, typified for me by Manger Square, which has the Church of the Nativity at one end and the Mosque of Omar at the other.  The wall runs through Bethlehem, in one case right around an existing home.

This wall is regularly a target location for violent confrontations between citizens and soldiers, one of which we regrettably observed from two blocks away, as we were preparing to leave the city.  The wall is also a ground for artistic and political communication: it is covered with paintings and graffiti, including some by famous artists like Banksy. In a Bethlehem shop, we saw a traditional olive wood nativity scene – with the addition of a barrier wall keeping out the three wise men.

Israel-Palestine Wall in Bethlehem 2016 . Israel-Palestine Wall in Bethlehem 2016

Israel-Palestine Wall in Bethlehem 2016

Berlin Wall Sections – Mountain View, California, 2010

Two graffitied sections of the 1961-1989 Berlin Wall lived in an office park near where I worked in Mountain View, California, for many years. I used to visit them sometimes during lunch, thinking of the people who died climbing the Berlin Wall trying to get to freedom.  In 2013, the sections were moved to the front of the public library.

The original sign in front of these sections said: “…Between November 9 and 12, 1989 the Wall was breached; not from without with bombs or bullets, but from within by the sound of freedom and the vision of a better life that had drifted over the Wall. The World must not forget that it was America’s resolve and its political and economic ideals that made this bloodless revolution and most significant historical event possible.”  I don’t know if that sign is still with the sections since they moved.

Berlin Wall Section, Mountain View, California, 2010 . Berlin Wall Section, Mountain View, California, 2010

California USA-Mexico Wall, 2008

In 2008, my husband and I flew with friends to Baja California to see the grey whales at Laguna San Ignacio. Coming home, we got fuel and checked out with Mexican customs in Mexicali, then flew 9 miles north across the US border to check in at Calexico. The Calexico general aviation airport is directly on the USA-Mexico border fence.  It was strange to see our two nations that are culturally and economically one family – with a line drawn between them.

California USA-Mexico Wall, 2008 . California USA-Mexico Wall, 2008

California USA-Mexico Wall, 2008

Photos Copyright by Katy Dickinson 2008-2016

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Mentoring Best Practices Panel and Video

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The Mentoring Best Practices panel video is now posted!

The Mentoring Best Practices Panel Discussion on 10 March 2016 was presented by the TechWomen Alumnae Council and Ericsson Women in Leadership. Speakers: Katy Dickinson, Judy Little, Robert Loftis, Myra Nawabi, Manali Rane, Leslie Summerfield. Hosted at Ericsson in San Jose, California, (Silicon Valley) by Audrey Simpson. Questions addressed: How do you get a mentor? What is the benefit of mentoring? Why be a mentor? What do mentors do? What do mentees get? What does the host organization get? Formal versus informal mentoring? Internal versus external mentoring? Senior vs. junior mentees? Apprehension when applying to mentoring programs? Differences between easy and hard mentees? What is formal mentoring like? What are powerful questions? How do you evaluate success? How does mindfulness fit into coaching/mentoring? What surprised you the most? Mentee feedback experiences? What can a mentee do for their mentor? What is the optimal age for mentoring?

The panel handout provides more biographical details on the speakers.  Thanks to John Plocher for the video taping, editing, and production – much appreciated!

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Photos 2016 Copyright by Maryann Hrichak

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Understanding Gaza

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In the month since I was in Gaza City, I have been thinking through that journey. Living in East Palo Alto for 20 years and teaching in a prison are two experiences that have given me some perspective on Gaza. I lived in EPA when it was named the murder capital of America. (EPA was where I could afford a house as a single mother working in the Silicon Valley – lower house prices being one of its virtues.)  I recently started mentoring an EfM seminar at Elmwood Jail in Milpitas. Both EPA and jail can be dangerous and depressing places, but they can also be home and a ground for community support, growth, laughter, and love. When we visited Gaza, I saw devastation, poverty, and political anger but I was warmly welcomed by hundreds of locals who are building their lives and working to raise their community from the ruins.  Five of us went to Gaza together: Erin Keeley, Eileen Brewer, Aliya Janjua, my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman, and me.  It was the first visit by a group of executive technical women ever hosted by MercyCorps and Gaza Sky Geeks. Ours was also the first group visit by TechWomen mentors to our Palestinian mentees.

When I got back from three weeks in the Middle East and Africa, I briefly described Jordan, Israel – Palestine, and Zimbabwe to the men in my class at Elmwood. Trying to explain Gaza, I compared its twenty-year siege to lockdown, when inmates are immediately locked in their cells and all jail visitors must quickly leave because of an emergency situation.  While we were with the TechWomen Delegation in Jordan and during the two days we toured Israel before going to Gaza, we often heard deep surprise that we would be allowed in at all.  While we were in Gaza City, people on the street were very surprised to see us shopping and eating out.  We were told that many outsiders who visit Gaza drive through quickly, surrounded by guards.  We did follow MercyCorps’ rules to only go out during the day and early evening and always to be accompanied by a MercyCorps staff member but we were treated with hospitality and respect whereever we went.  Of course, I mostly was with my 2014 mentee Mai Temraz and her charming family!

Although Gaza is primarily Islamic, we visited the 50-bed Ahli Arab Hospital (supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem) and the Church of Saint Porphyrius (Greek Orthodox) between giving presentations on mentoring, venture capital, design thinking, crowd funding and other professional topics.  One effect of the long siege of Gaza is that the small Ahli Arab Hospital treats tens of thousands of patients per year with a mortality rate for diseases such a breast cancer at about triple – partly because of a lack of local medical facilities and the difficulty in getting patients out of Gaza promptly for treatment elsewhere.

One of the most difficult conversations I had several times with professional women in Gaza was whether they should stay or go.  Gaza is blessed with many talented and educated people whom it needs to rebuild after each conflict ends.  However, those are the people who can most easily qualify for graduate school, jobs, and programs elsewhere – which may be the best choice for them and their immediate families. My prayers are with the people of Gaza every day.

 

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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