Category Archives: News & Reviews

New Jail Curriculum

Collaborating with the Rev. Canon William H. Barnwell, this month I have been designing a new curriculum for studying faith and literature at Elmwood Jail (Milpitas, California). In 1980, at the University of New Orleans (UNO), Canon Barnwell started developing a program which would eventually be called The Transforming Literature of the Bible (TLB). TLB is based on his original class in the “Bible as Literature” in the UNO English Department. From the mid-eighties, Canon Barnwell continued to work on TLB for both the university and at his churches: first at Trinity Episcopal in New Orleans, then at Trinity in Boston, and finally at the Washington National Cathedral where he served as Canon Missioner. TLB has been presented dozens of times in a variety of settings.  The TLB version we are updating now is dated 2008.

I had been looking for a shorter course to offer at Elmwood Jail where I have been leading seminars in Education for Ministry (EfM) since 2015. Unfortunately, EfM takes nine months per program year and many of the inmates are not at Elmwood that long. EfM continues to be the right program for some Elmwood dorms; however, I was glad to find TLB for faster-cycle dorms.  I think we can complete both Old and New Testament studies using TLB in about four months.

With Canon Barnwell’s enthusiastic support, I have edited the first six TLB sessions. I plan to edit the next 30 sessions starting next week. The first six sessions cover “The Hebrew Scriptures, Part One: The Great Stories of Genesis”. In addition to reading all of the Bible book of Genesis, students will also read:

I am grateful to have Diane Lovelace and my husband, John Plocher, as my Co-Mentors in this new venture.  I am giving the inmates Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, dictionaries, pencils and journals to support their studies.  Some books are in Spanish and some in English.  Ten inmates came last week to hear about the new program.  They are a varied group from many faith backgrounds: Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim. We are looking forward to developing the TLB pilot program together.

This program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.


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Images Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Thanks, TechWomen!

Thanks to the TechWomen program for the recent Tweet quoting me:

Behind every successful woman is a tribe of women supporting her, like TechWomen

It is my honor to have helped design TechWomen – and to have been a TechWomen mentor and enthusiastic supporter since the program started:

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. TechWomen provides participants access to networks, resources, and knowledge to empower them to reach their full potential.

During the five-week program, participants engage in project-based mentorships at leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, participate in professional development workshops and networking events, and travel to Washington, DC. for targeted meetings and special events to conclude the program.

Over the past seven years, more than 500 women from Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Zimbabwe have participated in TechWomen.

TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). TechWomen, launched in 2011, supports the United States’ global commitment toward advancing the rights and participation of women and girls around the world by enabling them to reach their full potential in the tech industry.

TechWomen is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
More: https://www.techwomen.org/

More about my company, Mentoring Standard: http://www.mentoringstandard.com/

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Refugees in Bunia, Congo

Last month, I posted a disturbing story and images: Help Needed for Displaced in Congo. The number of internal refugees who have settled in Bunia, Congo, continues to grow.  The camp now holds over 86,000 people, many of whom are women and children who have traveled for weeks under very dangerous circumstances.  The Congo Network of the Episcopal and Anglican churches gets regular updates from the Reverend Bisoke Balikenga who lives and works in Bunia, DRC.  The Congo Network is chaired by the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa (Africa Relations, Episcopal Church).  The US media is reporting very little on this massive humanitarian crisis. I asked the Rev. Bisoke to send the Congo Network photos so that we could help tell the story.

Particularly disturbing were the photos of the girl Rachel and her little sister.  The Rev. Bisoke wrote with the photo below: “Rachel sister just come from the hospital, her left arm was cut by the rebel and Rachel was cut in the head and the mother was killed. Rachel is not in a good condition you can see her head. Please pray for them because the life which they have now it is not the good one.”  The Rev. Bisoke has taken 30 refugees into his own home, in addition to his family of 8.  He is getting some help from friends.  If you would like to help displaced people in the Congo, please donate to Episcopal Relief and Development (designate your donation to DRC). Your money will go toward food, clothing, shelter and assistance with trauma.

 


Recent news stories include:

Photos copyright 2018 by the Rev. Bisoke Balikenga – used with permission.
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Coolest Office in San Jose

WP668 Railroad Caboose in San Jose California

Thanks to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (and Ahmad Chapman, his Communications Specialist) who created the Great 408  community celebration program for San Jose which says about “77. Backyard Railroad Caboose” –

You can have your glass-walled high rises and ergonomic standing desks; Katy Dickinson has the coolest office in San Jose. That’s because it’s a 1916 Western Pacific steel framed wooden caboose in the backyard of the Willow Glen home she shares with her husband, John Plocher. The couple purchased the caboose in 2006 from the Golden Gate Railroad Museum in San Francisco after it lost its lease. It was in storage in San Jose for more than a year until it was moved to their backyard in May 2007. The couple has been restoring the caboose bit by bit for more than a decade. Be sure to check out Katy and John’s website for more photos and the history of the caboose.

The web page features the 2007 video by Sam Fineberg of WP668 moving into our backyard. WP668 is the office for my company, Mentoring Standard.

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Photos Copyright 2008-2017 by Katy Dickinson.

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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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