Tag Archives: Egypt

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.


Filed under Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews

Africa: People, Food, Technology, Business

Katy Dickinson and John Plocher 2014 Church of St. George Lalibela Ethiopia

Tomorrow, I am giving a presentation to my home congregation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, California) about my nine trips to Africa since 2010. The talk is called “Africa: People, Food, Technology, Business”. I have linked the talk here so that my audience can access my pictures and stories after.  My bold intention in giving this talk is to present a small part of the wonderful complexity of the African continent, and to encourage them to visit and get involved in African enterprises.

“If you only visit two continents in your lifetime, visit Africa – twice.” – R.Elliot

TechWomen and TechGirls in Tunisia 2015

Katy Dickinson presenting to AIMS and TechWomen at in Cape Town by Rejoyce GaVhi Feb2015

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Images Copyright 2010-2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Extra Gear? Gifts for Sierra Leone

Gifts for Sierra Leone trip June-July 2017

My daughter Jessica and I will be visiting Families Without Borders in Sierra Leone next week with Terri Khonsari. If you have any extra laptops or smart phones we can bring – no matter how old or dead – the students will be delighted with your donation. Please contact me soon!

I have visited the inspiring and fascinating continent of Africa at least once a year since 2010. With TechWomen Delegations, I have been to Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, plus participating in Delegations to Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa below the Sahara. With People to People, John and I visited Ethiopia. My only actual vacation in Africa was to Egypt in 2010 – a much longer trip than planned since our family was stranded there by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano.  This will be my first trip to West Africa.

I bring gifts on each trip for our generous hosts and for new friends and colleagues. For my first TechWomen Delegations, I had custom pencils made but more recently, I have brought San Francisco keychains and geeky pens and toys given away at events like the Grace Hopper Conference.  For this trip, I bought keychains, the Willow Glen Wells Fargo Bank branch gave me a big bag of red pens, and I am also bringing packages of stickers for the children.

However, the best present for the students in Sierra Leone would be empowerment and greater connection to the wider world.  Your outdated computer gear can help them.  I hope to hear from you!

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Image Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen 2016 Fellows – Next Steps

12 Certified Mentors TechWomen 2016 Fellows

The 90 TechWomen 2016 Fellows returned to their 19 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. After a very busy month in the San Francisco Bay Area and a week in Washington DC, they have been been reconnecting with home and family. Some of us mentors in the Silicon Valley have continued working remotely with our mentees since we last saw them in Washington DC.  Two groups with whom I have actively continued to work are Team Tunisia (the development group of six from Tunis, plus three TechWomen mentors), and the TechWomen 2016 Fellows who have become Certified Mentors with my company, Mentoring Standard.

Team Tunisia has met remotely twice already and is busily developing plans, branding, and social media for WAKTECH. WAKTECH will developing a software application plus community system to improve public transport in Tunis. Our team won one of the TechWomen Pitch Day seed grants last month and we are  now looking for additional sources of funding and support. While we were in Washington DC, Team Tunisia was able to meet His Excellency Fayçal Gouia, Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States. We brought along our TechWomen trophy to show him!

12 TechWomen 2016 Fellows have completed the submissions required to become Certified Mentors after returning home.  They have demonstrated that they hold the following three qualities:

  1. Significant Mentoring History.
  2. Good Reputation.
  3. Respectable Professional Experience.

Congratulations and welcome to:

Engy Abdalla Architect & Interior Designer, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Alexandria, Egypt
Yousra Anwar Abdelhady Independent Trainer, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Alexandria, Egypt
Chioma Hannah Ezedi Programmer, Abububakar Tafawa Balewa University, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Bauchi, Nigeria
Yelena Filipchik Sales Intelligence Manager, PepsiCo, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Almaty, Kazakhstan
Habsatou Nadia Project Engineer, Cameroon Telecommunication, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Yaounde, Cameroon
Kitio Tsamo Arielle Founder: WIT, Computer Science Lecturer Assistant: University of Yaounde 1, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Yaounde, Cameroon
Diana Hasan Nassar Product Manager: souq.com, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Amman, Jordan
Estelle Ndedi-Nzalli Computer Sciences Engineer, Information Technology Department,
Ingenieris, TechWomen 2016 Fellow
Yaounde, Cameroon
Dr. Francisca Onaolapo Oladipo Professor, Federal University Lokoja, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria
Gulshnar Salpykova IT Specialist, Transtelecom JSC, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Astana, Kazakhstan
Yomna Emad Saleh Business & Innovation Consultant: Innovety, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Cairo, Egypt
Nazira Sheraly CEO, Agroholding Jashyl Charba, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

I am very proud of all of them!  More information about each of these remarkable mentors is on Mentoring Standard’s Honor Roll.

TechWomen at the Smithsonian, Washington DC, October 2016

TechWomen Team Tunisia WAKTECH Washington DC, 14 October 2016

His Excellency Fayçal Gouia with TechWomen Team Tunisia at Ambassador's Reception, Washington DC, October 2016

12 Certified Mentors TechWomen 2016 Fellows

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Mail

Katy Dickinson and Janet Fofang Hopper Conference 2015

The TechWomen mentoring program participants often travel among our 21 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.   On our journeys, mentors and mentees often bring each other things, calling such deliveries “TechWomen Mail”. Sometimes the generous TechWomen carry local treats (like cookies or honey), or souvenirs from their country (like pen holders or coffee mugs).  Earlier this year, a traveling mentor bought a rug in the souq only to find it too big for her luggage.  In the next few months, I am sure that rug will arrive in the Silicon Valley with a visiting TechWoman.

Souvenirs from Egypt and Lebanon, coffee and pen cups

Since I would be seeing the Cameroon “Angels Tech of Africa” Technovation team in San Francisco, Janet Fofang (TechWomen 2013 Fellow) asked me to send her some electronics to use when teaching her Tassah Academy or WeTech girls in Yaounde, Cameroon. My husband, John Plocher, put together a box of interesting electronic boards and chips for exploration. Dorothée Danedjo Fouba  (TechWomen 2014 Fellow) kindly agreed to carry the box to Janet. I left the box loosely packed and openable so that Dorothée and customs inspectors could see what it contained – I am sure it looked odd on airport scanners.

This week, Janet wrote me that the box had arrived safely. (Thanks to Dorothée!) Janet and John are now in email discussions about what was in the box, and about software and hardware open source projects he has published on our family website, spcoast.com. We may have more TechWomen Mail headed to Cameroon soon!

Teaching Materials - Electronic Parts July 2016

Cameroon Technovation Team with Katy Dickinson and Tara Chklovski 2016

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Images Copyright 2015-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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