Delicious Food in Egypt

During the TechWomen Delegation to Egypt, we were very well fed.  It seemed like every one of the schools and organizations which hosted us generously provided at least a snack in addition to our regular meals. Days were very long so we were happy to be fed sweets and tea at regular intervals! Those of us who went to Alexandria before the Delegation began shared local desserts like Om Ali and Couscous with Nuts at El Shekh Wafik in the morning, and a great seafood feast at Ibn Hamido Seafood Restaurant on the waterfront at night. The next day, we had lunch at the Mena House next to Giza’s pyramids (our rice was in the shape of a pyramid to keep with the theme).

Two local dishes I definitely want to eat again are Kushari (noodles, rice, lentils, chickpeas and onion – pictured at the Abou El Sid restaurant in Cairo), and Halabessa (chickpeas in tomato broth- pictured at the Mahfouz Cafe in Cairo). Our most amusing snack was mathematical cupcakes (at the Girls in STEM Career Fair hosted by Mentor Graphics).




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Photos Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Crafts and Souvenirs from Egypt

During the TechWomen Delegation to Egypt there was very little time for shopping but I did manage to find some presents and souvenirs.  Before our Professional Development Sessions with Alwan wa Awtar – AWA – Youth in Cairo, we bought bags, necklaces, and scarves from a young woman who started an embroidery craft and sewing business with her mother.  We also stopped by a Carrefour on the way to a meeting, where I found an excellent selection of lovely cotton scarves – not surprising in a country where colorful and well-designed scarves are worn by so many women.

We had time on the day we left to walk through Muizz Street and the shops of the old city in Cairo.  I was pleased to purchase a large black shawl with Egyptian hand embroidery, and a Ramadan tablecloth in a colorful primary color pattern we had seen many times as we traveled.  I even found some alabaster lamps which will be appreciated as presents, plus a pair of silver earrings for myself.  Thanks to 2015 Fellow Doaa ElEraqy of Egypt who was our patient guide and negotiator in the souq.

In addition to these treasures I bought, we Mentors received many kind gifts from the TechWomen Fellows of Egypt. I was also touched and honored to be given souvenirs from Palestine and Lebanon – presents from TechWomen mentees.






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Photos Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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TechWomen Delegation to Egypt

Katy Dickinson TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018 

I was honored to join the TechWomen Delegation to Egypt: my tenth TechWomen Delegation. TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. We had an inspiring and enjoyable trip.  I got back to the USA a few days ago and am still getting used to California’s time zone (but am enjoying our clean air!).

Some of us mentors arrived in Egypt early so that we could acclimatize and see the sights.  I was part of a group that toured Alexandria on 24 February, the day before the Delegation officially started.  We had three flat tires on the road but were able to visit the Citadel of Qaitbay, a 15th-century fortress on the Mediterranean sea coast on the eastern point of the Pharos Island. It was erected on the exact site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Some of the lighthouse stones were used to build the fort.  We also saw the remarkable 2002 Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria) and the Montaza Palace.

Katy Dickinson at the Citadel, Alexandria Egypt Feb 2018 aty Dickinson at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria Egypt Feb 2018

The first day of the Delegation, we had a short tour of Giza and Cairo. The Great Pyramid is another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I was delighted to discover so many of us Mentors and Fellows from the inaugural 2011 class of TechWomen were part of the Delegation.  We also welcomed Fellows from Lebanon, Libya, South Africa, Palestine, Morocco, Jordan, and Kenya.  All three of the 2011 mentees who were hosted at my company were part of the Delegation: Sukaina Al-Nasrawi and Maha Akkari (Lebanon), and Reham Nasser (Egypt).  I was delighted to catch up with 2011 mentees Maysoun Ibrahim and Huda Alwahidi from Palestine, as well as Eman Ezzat, Ghada Bahig and others from Egypt. Sukaina and Maysoun and Reham have been on TechWomen Delegations before but I had not seen Maha for years.  The Delegation included mentees from all TechWomen years, although Lara Chikhani (from my Team Lebanon) was the only Fellow who came from 2017. I was very happy to see Sara Abdelhafez (Egypt) for the first time since she was hosted at my company in 2012 – and to meet her new son who came to our Farewell Dinner on a Nile river boat.

Giza, TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018 Sphinx, TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018
We were very busy during the Delegation, sometimes being on the bus as early at 7:30 am and getting back to our Cairo hotel in the Zamalek district at 10:30 pm.  Activities during which we interacted with hundreds of girls, women, entrepreneurs, and technologists included:

  • Briefing from U.S. Embassy (Monday, Feb 26)
  • The Power of Mentorship at the American Center (Monday, Feb 26)
  • Meet & Greet with U.S. Embassy Colleagues (Monday, Feb 26)
  • Workshops with Women in Tech and Entrepreneurship at the GrEEK Campus (Tuesday, Feb 27)
  • Pitch Practice and Speed Geek Sessions at the GrEEK Campus (Tuesday, Feb 27)
  • Girls in STEM Career Fair at Mentor Graphics (Tuesday, Feb 27)
  • Networking Reception at the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center – TIEK (Wednesday, Feb 28)
  • Discussions with Professionals in STEM at Vodafone (Wednesday, Feb 28)
  • Hands-on STEM Activities at High School (Thursday, March 1)
  • From Silicon Valley to the Nile: Soft Skills Workshops at the American University in Cairo – AUC (Thursday, March 1)
  • Reception with U.S. Embassy at INJAZ (Thursday, March 1)
  • Visit with Teenpreneurs at FabLab Egypt (Friday, March 2)
  • Professional Development Sessions with Alwan wa Awtar – AWA – Youth at Montessori Mokattam (Friday, March 2)

We were delighted to visit many projects started and supported by TechWomen Fellows in Egypt. Cairo traffic is as bad as that of the Silicon Valley so we spent about 1-1/2 hours on the bus to get from event to event. We enjoyed the time to catch up with dear friends and learn more about each other.  Unfortunately, over half of the delegation came down with a respiratory illness and fever so we had to swap speaking slots quite a bit. On Monday, I gave a TED-style talk about mentoring then lead a panel discussing mentoring at the US Embassy’s American Center. Later, I helped Jill Finlayson teach girls to brainstorm and develop solutions to community problems, lead another discussion at AUC with Mohna Dhomse on how to Find a Mentor, joined a panel about life challenges, and gave two talks with Rekha Pai-Kamath on self-branding.  All of us in the Delegation participated in speed geek sessions at several venues.

The day after the Delegation ended, groups of us Mentors and Fellows were able to tour the amazing Egyptian Museum and get some shopping done in the old city of Cairo – with 2015 Fellow Doaa ElEraqy of Egypt as our patient guide and negotiator.

TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018 

TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018 

TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018 

TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018 

TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018 TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018

 TechWomen Egypt Delegation 2018

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Photos Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson, TechWomen, and Lara Chikhani.


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Help Needed for Displaced in Congo

Bunia, Congo 18 Feb 2018 by Rev. Bisoke Balikenga

Violence has recently gotten worse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I was on a call a few days ago during which we learned of tens of thousands of displaced people, about two thousand of whom are now seeking help near a hospital in Bunia. The Reverend Bisoke Balikenga sent us the photos you see here of families in Bunia in need of food, water, firewood, bedding, and schools for the children. We are coordinating our aid efforts through Episcopal Relief and Development.

Since 2015, I have been a part of the Congo Network group of the Episcopal Church. The group is chaired by the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa (Africa Relations, Episcopal Church). I was nominated to join the Congo Network group by my Bishop, the Right Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves (of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, California).  We meet by phone and online about quarterly to share information and coordinate support work. I have been taking the Congo Network minutes.

Bunia, Congo 18 Feb 2018 by Rev. Bisoke Balikenga

There is small awareness in the United States about the size and severity of the Congo’s humanitarian crisis. Little news is published, mostly by non-US media and organizations:

However, if I did not know about it directly from the Congo Network, I may not have heard about this crisis at all. I have to go searching for news of the Congo – it does not appear in my regular news sources.  I have never been so aware of the limitations of the US media and how news is distributed.

Congo is about 70% Christian and many of the displaced people are seeking help from their churches. Pope Francis has raised awareness by holding a day of prayer and fasting on 23 February for those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

If you would like to help displaced people in the Congo, please donate to Episcopal Relief and Development (designate your donation to DRC).

Bunia, Congo 18 Feb 2018 by Rev. Bisoke Balikenga

Photos copyright 2018 by the Rev. Bisoke Balikenga – used with permission.
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Prayers from Jail

Collect for Elmwood Jail M4C Dorm 10 Jan 2018

In Week 16 of our Education for Ministry (EfM) 36 week seminar, the students write a Collect together. A collect is a prayer meant to gather the intentions of the people and the focus of worship into a succinct prayer. In the Week 16 exercise, EfM prompts us with the first few words of each line and the students fill in the rest. By writing their own Collect, students learn the difference between kinds of prayer: Petition, Intercession, Penitence, Thanksgiving, and Adoration.

I lead three EfM seminars a week, two at at Elmwood Jail in Milpitas and the third at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (all in the Silicon Valley). My Co-Mentors Joel and Diane and Karen and I are all Accredited Mentors.  After each group wrote their own Collect, I read them the prayers written by the others.

Here are the three Collects:

Collect from Elmwood M4C Dorm EfM Class

God is holy, love, protection, comfort, security, and shares our burdens.

The world is corrupt, burnt, an abomination, and beautiful.

We ask for guidance, strength, compassion, and PopTarts.

We ask for healing, health, guidance, protection, and peace.

We confess our sins, faults, shortcomings, news, fears, prejudices, and hope.

We come together in awe and wonder at His majesty, the love of others, guidance.

So that we can have peace, good will, and understanding.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Collect from Elmwood M2B Dorm EfM Class

God is wonderful, loving, father, strong, life.

The world is a mess, suffering, needing peace, capable.

We ask for peace, mercy, love, hope, freedom, safety, protection.

We ask for food for the hungry, a house for the homeless, peace for those in war-torn countries, and health for the unhealthy.

We confess sin, misgivings, our love, ignorance – lack of knowledge.

We give thanks for life, families, safety, health, our EfM Mentors, friendships, and Honey Bun pastry.

We come together in awe and wonder at new learning, every day, God’s presence at Elmwood Jail.

So that we can have love, understanding, faithfulness.

In the name of Jesus.

Collect from St. Andrew’s EfM Class

God is love, healer, generous, compassionate.

The world is sick, poor, in need, progressive.

We ask for health, healing, open hearts and minds.

We ask for abundance for the poor, courage for leaders, wholeness for the sick.

We confess our prejudice, limitations, slowness.

We give thanks for those who came before us, healers, saints, new babies and parents, courageous leaders.

We come together in awe and wonder at a new year, God’s presence in our lives, grace.

So that we can be fearless, and the sick will be comforted.

In the name of our healing Father.

This jail-based EfM program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy, the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino RealSt. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, California), and the University of the South – School of Theology.

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Reading for Mentoring Month

TechWomen Team Lebanon Action Plan Workshop 30 Sep 2017, photo by Saul Bromberger for TechWomen

Every day I am online looking for interesting news and articles from around the world, especially about mentoring. Most days, I post what I find on my Twitter account, with summaries of the most interesting posted in batches to Mentoring Standard on LinkedIn. In honor of January being America’s National Mentoring Month, here is a selection recent notable articles on mentoring to inspire you. Please nominate mentoring gems I have missed!

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Postcast Interview

Katy Dickinson Sun Microsystems badge 398 in 2010

I very much enjoyed being interviewed by Akshay Birla for his “Life of the Mind” podcast last month. He just published the interview as “Episode 19 | Katy Dickinson on Technology, Mentoring, and Religion”.

Katy Dickinson has been around the tech-block. Hired by Eric Schmidt at Sun Microsystems, she literally wrote the book on the software development lifecycle that Sun used for release of almost 10,000 releases. She is a technologist, entrepreneur, mentor, and writer.

In our conversation Katy talks about her work as a technologist on creating processes:
A process has to not assume that you have world-class people working on it. A process assumes that that not everybody — while they are good-intentioned and competent — [is] perfect. You have to have a system that allows for lack of perfection but can work if you have the best that there is.

and the futility of only having excellent coders:
A good coder is a wonderful thing to have but you have to create something that the customer wants and feels comfortable with. Good coding and user experience are sometimes at odds.

But we spend the most of our conversation talking about mentoring programs that deliver high return-on-investment, and the intersection of religion and technology.

On the importance of example and networking provided by the Grace Hopper Celebration:
While they may be the only women in the room – which has certainly been my experience in 30+ years in the Silicon Valley – there are a lot of rooms.

Listening to your own recorded voice is always surprising – it sounds so different from the inside!

Happy New Year!

Sun Microsystems gate Menlo Park California in 2010

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