Tag Archives: TechWomen

TechWomen Impact Coach again – for Lebanon!

Sukaina Al Nasrawi, Katy Dickinson, Maison Ibrahim, Adla Chatila in Beirut Lebanon 2013

I am so glad to have been accepted as a TechWomen Impact Coach again – and to be working with the same great mentor team as last year! TechWomen is a mentoring program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).  I was the 2010-2011 Process Architect for TechWomen and have been proud to support the program as a professional volunteer each year since then.

Mercedes Soria (Vice President, Software Engineering, Knightscope), Fatema Kothari (Technical Project Manager, Verizon) and I had a delightful experience as 2016 Impact Coaches, working with TechWomen’s inspiring Team Tunisia. We are looking forward to meeting our new Emerging Leader team from Lebanon when they arrive in San Francisco in September.

I am proud of my daughter Jessica who has herself been accepted as a TechWomen Impact Coach this year – for TechWomen Emerging Leaders from Palestine. I have just been looking over pictures from when Jessica and I visited TechWomen mentees in Lebanon in 2013. I am excited to further expand my knowledge of the people and culture of this ancient and fascinating country.

Maison Ibrahim, Sukaina Al Nasrawi, Katy Dickinson in Beirut Lebanon 2013

Katy Dickinson and Jessica Dickinson Goodman in Beirut Lebanon 2013

Adla Chatila and Jessica Dickinson Goodman in Saida, Lebanon 2013

Adla Chatila, Katy Dickinson, Jessica Dickinson Goodman at Tyre, Lebanon 2013

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Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Fabric Arts and Crafts in Sierra Leone

Fabric shopping, Sierra Leone, July 2017

While visiting Sierra Leone in West Africa earlier this month, my daughter Jessica traveled with fellow TechWomen mentor, Terri Khonsari, and with Ibrahim Kalokoh and Joseph Ellie of Families Without Borders Tech Center (FWB). Some of our activities were arranged by Mrs. Thaimu (“Mrs. T”), an entrepreneur in Makeni who works with FWB.

In addition to giving presentations at FWB, the University of Makeni in Makeni, and at Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone) in Freetown, we wanted to learn more about Sierra Leone. In particular, we wanted to purchase some of the elegant fabric and embroidery that we had seen Terri wearing in the Silicon Valley.

Our first day, Mrs. T brought us to her home to show us samples and discuss options for design.  Then, we went fabric shopping, followed by a trip to the tailor. Most of the fabric we purchased was cotton, often with local designs but mostly manufactured outside of the country.  One variegated brown cloth  was made locally from kola nuts. Our shirts, tunics, and dresses were completed in just a few days. We ended up fabric shopping several times during the whole trip: the vast design range and high quality of available materials are remarkable.  Jessica and I will be sewing with our new fabric for quite a while!

In addition to fabric, I purchased a batik panel at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary gift shop. It shows a woman in local costume against a map of Sierra Leone. I made it into a pillow for my office – to remember my first trip to West Africa.

Mrs. Thaimu, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Fabric shopping, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Embroiderer, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Tailor, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Embroiderer, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Kola nut fabric with embroidery, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik pillow and embroidered clothes, July 2017

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Sierra Leone: Leader in Religious Tolerance

Makeni, Sierra Leone July 2017

Jessica and I returned late Saturday from a short trip to Sierra Leone where we presented at Terri Khonsari‘s technical center Families Without Borders, and the University of Makeni in Makeni, and at Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone) in Freetown – to about 300 students in all.

Sierra Leone is one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries in which I have ever traveled.  This West African country is particularly remarkable its its religious tolerance.  Although about 60% of the country is Muslim, we saw a wide array of religious institutions and practices coexisting in peace.  Jessica and I were particularly delighted with two small stores on either side of a shop where we bought bowls.  One store was called Christ In Me Enterprise and the other Allah is Great Enterprise.

Catholic Church in Makeni, Sierra Leone July 2017

Church near Makeni, Sierra Leone July 2017

Mosque in Sierra Leone July 2017

Mosque in Sierra Leone June 2017

Stylish Grandmas, Makeni Sierra Leone, June 2017

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Families Without Borders, Sierra Leone 2 July 2017

Families Without Borders Makeni Sierra Leone 3 July 2017

Jessica Dickinson Goodman and I are on a trip to make presentations at Families Without Borders in Makeni, Sierra Leone.  We have been making presentations about the web, research, blogging, and social media.  This blog is being posted as a live example of How to Blog – it was written live in front of 28 students.  The students want you to know that they love each other and they work hard to get things done.  They welcome visitors to their country!  Thinking of Sierra Leone, they want to say:

  • They are rich in their culture.
  • “Salone” is a land of religious and political tolerance.
  • Their land is wealthy in mineral resources and agriculture.
  • Sierra Leone is a peaceful nation and it is not always about bad things.
  • The natural habitat is beautiful, especially the ocean and the Lion Mountains.
  • They have two seasons: rainy and dry.

Jessica Dickinson Goodman at Mrs. Ts home, Makeni Sierra Leone 2 July 2017

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Images Copyright 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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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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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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