Tag Archives: teaching

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  Your outdated computer gear can help them.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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Filed under Home & Family, Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Sierra Leone Trip – Families Without Borders

Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Terri Khonsari, my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman, and I are traveling to Sierra Leone in a few weeks to visit the Families Without Borders school Terri manages in Makeni.  Jessica and I will be making technical and business presentations in Makeni and in Freetown. Terri and I are both long-time Mentors for the TechWomen program.  We have been discussing this trip for years.

More about Families Without Borders:

    We believe in building communities from within through education and empowerment of local youth. We begin by recruiting top students from disadvantaged families. We enroll them in a four year Bachelors Degree program of their choice complemented by a full servant leadership and personal development program. The program includes: advance computer skills, communication skills and financial management.

On Saturday, John, Matthew, Jessica and I joined TechWomen IdaRose Sylvester (with her husband Neil Hendin) and Samera Edwards at the Families Without Borders annual fundraising Gala. We enjoyed good company, good food, and good music. Jessica even learned some drumming.

Terri Khonsari Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Jessica Dickinson Goodman and John Plocher with drummers at Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Here are Hamid and Terri Khonsari with four TechWomen Fellows from Sierra Leone at the Families Without Borders Gala in 2015:

Hamid and Terri Khonsari with Sierra Leone TechWomen 2015

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Images Copyright 2015-2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Using Twitter to Create Black-positive Monument List

Martin Luther King Memorial Washington DC 2015

When friends and family find out I use Twitter daily, they often ask: “But what is it good for?” I finally have a good answer to this!

On 30 May 2017, I responded to a tweet from Brittany Packnett, who has almost 75K Twitter followers and describes herself as: “#BlackWomenAtWork. Educator. Activist. Speaker. Writer. @BuildLovePower creator. @TeachForAmerica VP. #CampaignZero Co-Founder. Obama Appointee. Thoughts mine.” We asked for suggestions for a list of Black-positive monuments in the US. Within a short time, there were dozens of replies and suggestions.

That’s something I love about Twitter – getting the word out very fast and collecting information and suggestions fast from a vast and often well-informed audience.

Here is the list (so far) of Black-positive Monuments in the US.*  What would you add?

*updated 12 June to include Thurgood Marshall, John Mitchell, and Maggie Walker.

TechWomen Fellows at Smithsonian Washington DC USA 2016

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Images Copyright 2015-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation

TechWomen Delegation Kyrgyzstan 2017 at US Ambassador Residence Bishkek

I was part of the TechWomen Delegation to Kyrgyzstan from 23 February – 4 March 2017 in Central Asia. We spent a week giving talks and making presentations to women, girls, technical startups and the STEM community.  35 participated in the Delegation – from the USA, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and of course Kyrgyzstan. In addition to the mentors from the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area and the Fellows from Central Asia, our Delegation included staff from the Institute of International Education and the US State Department.

Three of us had an accidental tour of Istanbul getting to Kyrgyzstan since our flight connections didn’t.  We hired a driver during our day of waiting for the next Bishkek flight and saw Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and other remarkable locations in that beautiful and cosmopolitan city.  Since there is a Travel Warning for Turkey, we avoided crowded areas.

Each Delegation member had the opportunity to give several professional presentations. In addition to general mentoring sessions, my presentation topics included: Successful Mentorship (at the Kyrgyz State Agrarian Academy), Crowd Funding (part of the “Silicon Valley Experts Symposium” hosted by the US Ambassador, Sheila Gwaltney and the Kyrgyzstan Information Technology State Committee), Women in Tech: Challenges and Opportunities (at StartUp Tuesday), Social Media Marketing and Professional Networking (at the Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University), and Challenges and Opportunities in STEM Careers (in the American Corner, for high school students). After the presentations were over, a small group of us rented a bus and drove to see the remarkable 9th century minaret called the Burana Tower near Tokmok.

The day I arrived in Bishkek was when my mother died.    I knew when I left that this was a possibility even though I thought (and hoped) she would be with us much longer.  I had made all of the preparations in advance and both of my brothers were with her when she died.  I saw continuing my participation in the Delegation as a tribute to the woman my mother raised me to be – but it was hard to be away from home at such a time.

Katy Dickinson at the Istanbul Blue Mosque, Feb 2017

Katy Dickinson, Nandini Ramani, Judith Fleenor at Hagia Sophia Istanbul Feb 2017

TechWomen Delegation Kyrgyzstan 2017 schedule

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation 2017 Katy Dickinson and IdaRose Sylvester with Kurmanjan Datka statue Bishkek

TechWomen Delegation Kyrgyzstan 2017 in the snow

TechWomen Delegation Kyrgyzstan 2017 at Robotics Fair, Physics and Mathematics School‐Lyceum, Bishkek

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation at Kyrgyz‐Turkish Manas University 2017

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation 2017 at Burana Tower

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation 2017 near Burana Tower

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation 2017 Katy Dickinson with Nancy Talbot and Rebecca Biswas

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Barbara Merrill in Tanzania

Barbara Merrill, Tanzania 2016 img_0080

Barbara Merrill describes herself in her email signature as a “Certified Ergonomist and A Very Good Friend” – and she is indeed both. Barbara is also a parishioner at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and a person with albinism (PWA).

In these last two capacities, Barbara celebrated her retirement by traveling to Tanzania to help albino children and their families. She worked with a Cerebral Palsy Clinic, visited the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Step by Step school and other schools in Arusha, participated in an Albinism Conference to educate village leaders in Ngorongoro Crater, and visited an Asante Miriamu Foundation clinic and children’s camp in Kigoma and Kabanga.

This month, Barbara gave a report to St. Andrew’s called “Trip to Tanzania” about her 5 November 2016 – 12 December 2016 travels. Some facts she presented about Tanzania:

  • 70% of the population is rural
  • Capital Dar es Salaam and Dodoma
  • 68% below poverty level
  • Large percentage of population under 15 years old Generally high birth rate about 5 per woman
  • High infant mortality rate – nutrition, early and frequent pregnancies, inadequate maternal health.
  • Tourism is about 20% of the Tanzanian Economy

One of the most interesting of her slides for me was called “Myths About Albinism”

  • PWAs are ghosts
  • Mother slept with a white man
  • They don’t die just fade away
  • Magical powers
  • PWAs are evil
  • Albinism a curse or punishment
  • PWAs have pink eyes
  • Albinism is contagious

Thanks to Barbara for her dedication, teaching, and great heart!

Barbara Merrill, Kabanga Camp, Tanzania 2016 img_0080

Barbara Merrill, Asante Miriamu Gates Tanzania, 2016 img_0084

Barbara Merrill Tanzania 2016 img_0066

Images Copyright Barbara Merrill 2016

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TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation, and Uzbekistan Trip

Kyrgyzstan TechWomen Opening Event 13 September 2016

In February-March 2017, I will join the TechWomen Delegation to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. I look forward to working Yelena Filipchik and other TechWomen Fellows in Bishkek, spending a week giving talks and making presentations to women, girls, technical startups and the STEM community.  After the week in Kyrgyzstan, Saida Yusupova has invited me to Tashkent in Uzbekistan for a few days to help give Technovation training on mentoring and leadership.

So far, I have been focused on getting my flights sorted out.  Spending hours on the Hipmunk travel site, I discovered that (depending on the day of the week) you can economically get to Bishkek from either San Francisco or San Jose, flying through Istanbul, Moscow, Dubai, Frankfurt, or Beijing.  My flights will go through Dubai. Just travel time (not counting layovers) will be about 20 hours each way.

It cost about $1,000 less to buy two round trip tickets: California-Kyrgzstan-California and Kyrgzstan-Uzbekistan-Kyrgzstan than to book a single trip.  This means I have to transfer my bag from airline to airline myself but the layovers are very long, so there is time for that.  I am still thinking about what to do during the unavoidable 19+ hour layover in Dubai coming home.

I am also reading up on what to see in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on the Lonely Planet website.  The TechWomen Delegation orientation meeting by IIE is next week.

Yelena Filipchik, Kyrgyzstan, with Mentor Certificate, Dec 2016

Uzbekistan TechWomen Pitch Poster October 2016

Kyrgyzstan TechWomen Pitch Poster October 2016

Saida Yusupova and Katy Dickinson, TechWomen, October 2016

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Introducing Harpswell Women

Harpswell Women in Cambodia 2016

Today I ran a blogging workshop online for 18 women, of whom most were in Cambodia with the Harpswell Foundation school in Phnom Penh.  The women are college students in Psychology, International Relations Agronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, Communications, and Dentistry, among other study disciplines.

Harpswell in a Nutshell

“We operate two dormitory and leadership centers for university women in Phnom Penh that provide free housing and food, leadership training, and critical thinking skills to some of the brightest and most ambitious young women in Cambodia while they are attending universities. Our students attend 20 different universities in Phnom Penh… Our alumnae are becoming a powerful wave that will help move Cambodia into the future.”

Some of their stories:

  • Srey Pov is one of the Harpswell women who is working on a video project in her home village of Siem Reap. She says that: “…the video project brought me closer to my past dreams, and that it has given me the opportunity to share my story with other people.”
  • Somaly Soun is from Sihanoukville, which is a beautiful fishing village on the beach where they eat a great deal of seafood.  Her mother is a housewife.  Somaly is a first year student studying to be a Dentist. She says: “I want to tell the world about my community and how they live.”

We created this blog post together.  I learned of the Harpswell school from Heather Ramsey, Trish Tierney, and Amanda Schwartz of WAKE International.  I am delighted to meet these impressive students!

My “How to Blog: Best Practices” slides are on Mentoring Standard’s website.

Harpswell Women in Cambodia 2016

Harpswell Women in Cambodia 2016

Harpswell Women in Cambodia 2016

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Images Copyright 2017 by Harpswell Foundation

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