Category Archives: Mentoring & Other Business

Graduations

GTU Commencement 7 May 2022
GTU Commencement 7 May 2022

Spring is graduation season and this year, I joyfully walked the stage in-person for my Graduate Theological Union – Master’sTheology degree, as well as graduating three of my own student-mentees from the University of the South – School of Theology – Education for Ministry (EfM) extension program.

My GTU – MA and Master’s hood were officially presented online last year* but GTU offered the 2020 and 2021 pandemic-years graduates an opportunity to walk in-person this year. I was hooded by Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Wendy Arce in a ceremony at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. I was also awarded the Interreligious Chaplaincy Certificate, as only the second person to complete the new GTU – ICP program. Part of ICP is completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which for me meant working part-time as a Chaplain Intern for five months at Stanford Hospital during a pandemic surge. Several of us from Stanford Hospital – Spiritual Care Services graduated from GTU together this year. I was happy that my family which lovingly supported me during my long educational journey was present for my graduation.

Co-Mentor Karen LeBlanc, with whom I have led EfM seminars together for over twelve years, celebrated with me the graduations of Joel Martinez (graduated 2020, diploma presented 2022) and Beth Hopf at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, CA), and Mark LeBlanc (Karen’s husband) at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (Cupertino, CA). Joel, Beth, and Mark faithfully completed four years of EfM study and theological reflection on the Bible, church history, theology, and ethics.

*Read my thesis here: “Range of Chaplain Engagement with Prisoners”

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TechWomen in Yosemite

TechWomen at Yosemite Falls, CA, 27 Mar 2022

I am proud of my daughter Jessica whose annual Yosemite camping trip for her Palestinian mentees has evolved into a TechWomen tradition. This year, there were enough mentors and mentees for two weekends. I was a driver last weekend, joining about thirty others – many of them camping for the first time. We stopped over in Columbia for lunch on the way to our campsite at Tuttletown. We had a lovely time getting to know each other, figuring out how to raise a tent, singing pop songs, and eating s’mores – and Safa of Libya got to touch a river for the first time ever!

TechWomen brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program. I have been working with TechWomen since I helped to design it in 2010. Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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Side Garden Upgrade

Katy Dickinson garden, San Jose CA, 23 March 2022

It’s time in the San Francisco Bay Area to start planting our summer vegetables. Since I have some time during GTU‘s Reading Week, I cleared out winter weeds, dug in compost, and added tomatoes, basil, and borage to my planting beds. I left the rhubarb in its wheelbarrow since it seems happy. This year, from Yamagami’s nursery I bought three cherry tomato plants for salads and snacks (Yellow Pear, Sun Sugar Hybrid, and Super Sweet 100), plus three Ace tomatoes for soup. I also upgraded the Guadalupe River bank area next to the planting bed. The big yuccas, huge prickly pear cactus, and an elderberry tree dominate that space. There are also three lavenders (French and English) and two California Sagebrush (Artemisia Californica – from Jessica) continuing from two years ago. I just added four gloriosus “Heart’s Desire” prostrate ceanothus to fill in under and around the cactus. Another ceanothus “Centennial” plus some yarrow (Achillea Little Moonshine, and Red Velvet) will go in the front yard. I mostly add California Native Plants for long-term plantings. I am looking forward to everything growing happily all summer!

Update 24 March: I decided to go camping with Jessica and the TechWomen in Yosemite this weekend, so I planted the ceanothus Centennial in the side yard, supervised by guardian cats Princess and Ketchup. I am also moving some of garden stones into the side yard where they will be more visible.

Update 28 March: My neighbor Russell gave away some of his extra heirloom tomato starts today – so I added a seventh (and final!) plant to my bed. The little plants are enjoying today’s rain.

Ceanothus Centennial, Katy Dickinson garden, San Jose CA, 24 March 2022
Marvel stripe heirloom tomato, 28 March 2022

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TechWomen Team Kenya Outings

TechWomen Team Kenya brunch, 19 March 2022

TechWomen Team Kenya has enjoyed two outings during which we worked on the team project pitch. We went to NightLife at San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences, and we had brunch together in Oakland, hosted by my Co-Mentor Ella Morgulis. Co-Mentor Samantha Raniere made ugali and spinach and an apple pie for brunch. Ella and her husband David made chicken, hamburgers, and salad. I brought Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies! We mentors have taken turns driving the mentees to our outings around the Bay Area. Pitch Day will be on Friday, 25 March 2022.

Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

TechWomen Team Kenya, California Academy of Sciences, 17 March 2022

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TechWomen Volunteer Day in the Garden

TechWomen Volunteer Day, St.Stephens-in-the-Fields, San Jose, California, 18 Mar 2022

Today was TechWomen Volunteer Day and twenty-three of us gathered at St. Stephen’s-in-the-Field Episcopal Church – Community Garden in San Jose, California, to work together. We divided into three groups: the Hunters (looking for oak seedlings to pot), the Killers (taking down an oleander hedge), and the Diggers (making an accessible path for elder gardeners). We included technical leaders from the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, some of whom were novices and others who had deep gardening experience, as well as two regular community garden volunteers and four TechWomen mentors. My daughter, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, manages the community garden but she was managing another TechWomen volunteer group today, so I was in charge. It was a fun and productive day!

Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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Welcome TechWomen Team Kenya

TechWomen Team Kenya, 10 March 2022
TechWomen Team Kenya, 10 March 2022

I am honored to work with TechWomen Team Kenya this term. My Co-Mentors are Ella Morgulis and Samantha Raniere. Everyone was at my house in San Jose, California, last night for a team meeting and dinner. We are getting to know each other and enjoying learning together. They had fun touring my caboose office, WP668.

TechWomen brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program. I have been working with TechWomen since I helped to design it in 2010. Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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Introduction to Physical Computing

Wissa Wassef, weaving by Reda Ahmed, Egypt
Wissa Wassef weaving by Reda Ahmed, Egypt

TechWomen has started its first Virtual Delegation and I am one of the delegates from the Silicon Valley to Cameroon. On 14 June, I gave the online keynote speech on “Building a Global Network.” On 17 June, Maryann Hrichak and I (TechWomen Mentors) are leading a session on “Introduction to Physical Computing” with 100 students in Douala and Yaoundé, working with TechWomen Lead Fellows Janet Bih Shufor and Gisele Beatrice Sonfack.

Maryann and I will introduce the online discussion through the history of computing and weaving, specifically Jacquard looms, considered a precursor to modern computing technology. The idea for this approach came from my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman who was one of the Mentors on the 2018 TechWomen Delegation to Nigeria during which she gave a workshop on “Teaching Binary and Encryption Through Weaving.” Our Physical Computing session this week will be relatively short but we plan to cover the relationship of physical objects (like looms and yarn) to computing devices. We will show parts of the hands-on video “Personal Jacquard Weaving” and will end with a more futuristic view in the video “Knightscope – Present and Future” from Knightscope, the robotics company where my long-term TechWomen Co-Mentor, Mercedes Soria is Executive Vice President of Software Engineering, and Chief Intelligence Officer.

Some key dates from my introduction: 1804 Jacquard loom, 1837 Babbage Analytical Engine (programming by Ada Lovelace), 1884 Hollerith punched card tabulating machine (used in 1890 U.S. Census). Punch cards and paper tape continued in use until the 1990s.

Gisele and Janet will lead the students through an exercise using the MIT Media Lab’s Scratch program. Gisele wrote this about the exercise: “To control a system, or automate its operation, we use the variables which can be random or fixed depending on the type of sensors, we apply the conditions. Loops are uses to do the same thing infinitely. These concepts are the basics of physical computing.” This is their handout.

Here is our 17 June 2021 session plan:

  • 10 minutes – Introduction to Physical Computing (Katy Dickinson & Maryann Hrichak) on Zoom, including Arduino weaving video segment
  • 25 minutesScratch activity in two Zoom breakout rooms with about 50 students each, one in Douala (lead by Gisele), and the other in Yaoundé (lead by Janet), with ten TechWomen mentors helping
  • 5 minutes – Reflection (Katy Dickinson & Maryann Hrichak) on Zoom, including Knightscope robots video

TechWomen is a mentoring program of the US State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

TechWomen Maryann Hrichak, Katy Dickinson, Janet Bih Fofang, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack, Zoom 2021-06-15
TechWomen Maryann Hrichak, Katy Dickinson, Janet Bih Fofang, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack, Session Planning Meeting 2021-06-15
Xaviera Nguefo Kowo and Janet Bih Shufor, TechWomen Cameroon Delegation Screen Shot 2021-06-17
Xaviera Nguefo Kowo and Janet Bih Shufor, TechWomen Cameroon Delegation 2021-06-17
Fellows Janet, Jessica, Gisele of TechWomen Cameroon Delegation Screen Shot 2021-06-17 Screen Shot 2021-06-17
Fellows Janet, Jessica, Gisele of TechWomen Cameroon Delegation 2021-06-17

Thanks to Jeannice Farrer Samani, Janet Bih Shufor, and others for their recommendations on materials below. During our TechWomen-Cameroon Physical Computing session, I knew many of the girls might have network connection problems or would not  fully understand the Zoom-based presentations because we spoke in English and many of them are French speakers. I want the “References and Resources” to present inspiring materials they could read later. I selected physical computing examples focused on weaving and robotics and included women and girl role models not only from Cameroon and Africa but also from the U.S. I hope that the girls will find these materials helpful!

References and Resources:

Additional Information from TechWomen Mentor Suzette Shipp:

1640 Weaving Room, Carlyle House, Alexandria, Virginia USA (postcard).

Updated 22 June 2021

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