Tag Archives: teaching

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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What the Presiding Bishop Said

Tweet from RealEpiscopal 11 Jan 2017, Katy Dickinson and Presiding Bishop Panel on 7 Jan 2017, photo by Elrond Lawrence

“You are doing it.  Keep going.” is what Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in Salinas, California, on 7 January 2017. I was a member of the panel that asked questions after his keynote. From my notes, my opening question was:

“The Silicon Valley has a skewed population.  In the high tech world where I work, there are about 25% female, 4% Latino, and 2% Black in the computing professions.  In Elmwood Jail where I lead an Education for Ministry seminar each week, men and women are separate and there are 42% Latino and 29% Black. I feel like I live in two worlds. What can we do to reach out, to bring this divided community together?”

When Bishop Michael answered “You are doing it.  Keep going.”  I heard that the answer lay in outreach ministries like mine – and in telling people about that work. Individuals with a foot on both sides can connect a community.

It is a good but a little scary to have an experimental program succeed so well.  I have been thinking a great deal about what Bishop Michael said – and about what to do next.  The Episcopal Diocese of El Camino RealSaint Andrew’s Episcopal ChurchCIC, and EfM have strongly backed our jail-based seminar during the last year.  My first step was to talk with the CIC Chaplain for Elmwood, and then with the EfM program at the University of the South – School of Theology, about starting an additional class at Elmwood.  They support expanding the program.  Now to find more funding!

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson and Elrond Lawrence

 

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Being the Only Woman in the Room

TAB, Sun Microsystems Technology Advisory Board, Greg Papadopoulos, Steve Ward, Ivan Sutherland, Danny Hillis, Dave Patterson, Mike Splain, June 2008

This week I met the Rev. Liz Milner, new CIC Chaplain for Elmwood Jail where I hold a weekly Education for Ministry (EfM) seminar in a men’s medium-security dorm. During this introductory conversation, I mentioned to Liz that I was comfortable working as the EfM Mentor in a men’s facility. After so long working as an executive in Silicon Valley technical companies, I would have to be comfortable being the only woman in the room!  NCWIT reports that only 25% of US professional computing jobs are held by women, with numbers much lower at senior levels.

For decades I designed and managed programs for Sun Microsystems such as the TAB – Technology Advisory Board, pictured above. It was an honor to work with world-class innovators and leaders like Ivan Sutherland, Greg Papadopoulos, and Danny Hillis, but with very few exceptions, they were all male.

Women in technology meet each other at conferences, like the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (over 15,000 attended in 2016 – about 90% of whom were women), or in professional programs like TechWomen or Technovation.  We keep aware of our accomplishments as a group by means of projects like the Notable Technical Women cards and posters, and by awards such as Women of Vision. Women geeks are often the only female in the room – but there are many rooms!

EfM at Elmwood Jail, Katy Dickinson, Patrick Ryan, 4 inmates, Milpitas CA, Aug 2016

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Images Copyright 2008-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Learning in Jail, Using Wikipedia

EfM at Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Sep 2016

I lead a weekly Education for Ministry seminar at Elmwood Correctional Facility (County Jail in Milpitas, California). This month, we started our second EfM term inside Elmwood. Our seminar includes six men in Year-1 (studying Collins’ Introduction to the Hebrew Bible) plus four continuing to Year-2 (studying Powell’s Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey). We use college-level texts plus Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, and the EfM Reading and Reflection Guide, with other resources in both English and Spanish.

I am also the EfM Mentor for another weekly seminar hosted by Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, CA). One of the differences between my two classes is availability of outside reference materials. The student inmates do not have web access. So, I make a standing offer to print out articles from Wikipedia and other sources to supplement assigned texts. The EfM students at Elmwood are deeply curious and want to learn all they can, especially about text and biblical references and topics raised during our theological reflections.

Yesterday night, I was asked to look up the Oracle of Delphi, lyrics to two hymns, and Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. I bring in printouts  glued at the corner (staples are forbidden).  During the last year, I have provided Wikipedia articles on these topics:

Amenemope (pharaoh) Apostle (Christian) Archangel Ark of the Covenant Assumption of Moses
Baptism of Jesus Bel and the Dragon Ben Sira Bible translations into English Book of Amos
Book of Baruch Book of Jasher (biblical references) Book of the Wars of the Lord Book of Kings Cain and Abel
Cenacle Civil and political rights Code of Hammurabi Crossing the Red Sea Crusades
David Davidic line Diodorus Siculus Don Quixote Francis of Assisi
Golden calf Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Herodotus Historical criticism History of ancient Israel and Judah
Huldrych Zwingli Ignatius of Loyola Innocence Project Instruction of Amenemope Isaac
John Calvin Levite Maimonides Martin Luther Nephilim
Noah Nostradamus Oxford Martyrs Paleontology in New York Paul the Apostle
Peter Qarqar Rechabite Sanchuniathon Sirach
Sodom and Gomorrah Ten Commandments Ten Lost Tribes Tertullian Third Temple
Unknown years of Jesus Western Wall William Shakespeare Zayin .

If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Oct 2016

Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Oct 2016

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson, with the Rev. Jennifer Bales

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Honoring Jail Ministry

Katy Dickinson's Simple Servant-efm-elmwood Jail Award, 4 Nov 2016

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves honored dozens of jail and prison ministry volunteers last month, among them, myself. Since 2007 Bishop Mary has served as the third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) in California. Since 2015, she has also been the Vice President of the House of Bishops. Some years ago, Bishop Mary created the Simple Servant Award to honor those working as faithful ministers in the community.

I was out of town – in Sewanee, Tennessee, renewing my Education for Ministry Mentor Accreditation, and being trained as the Diocesan Coordinator for EfM – so I missed the Simple Servant presentation at the ECR annual convention on 4 November 2016. However, my husband John Plocher helped Bishop Mary prepare her presentation slides, so I was able to contribute photos and information in advance.  The Reverend Peggy Bryan worked with two of my student inmates on the artwork for the certificate.

Jack Fanning and I received our certificates the following week.  Jack helped me to start the first EfM program at Elmwood Correctional Facility (Milpitas, California).  There are about 25 EfM seminars in prisons in the USA but ours seems to be the first class in a county jail. We just started our second EfM term inside Elmwood. Our seminar includes have six men in Year-1 plus four continuing to Year-2.  Thanks to the University of the South, The Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, CIC Ministries, and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church for their joint and generous support of this program!

If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

Katy Dickinson and Jack Fanning with Simple Servant Awards, 13 Nov 2016

Two photos taken by Elrond Lawrence of the 4 November 2016 presentation in Salinas:

Simple Servant Award by the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, 4 Nov 2016 - photo by Elrond Lawrence

Simple Servant Award by the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, 4 Nov 2016 - photo by Elrond Lawrence

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Top Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson, 2 Lowest Images Copyright 2016 by Elrond Lawrence

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