Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

Fabric from Africa

Face masks, fabric from Sierra Leone

Since we are sheltering in place during the Covid-19 lockdown, and I have a new machine, I have been sewing. In particular, I have had time to use some of the sophisticated and beautiful wax print fabrics I carried home from 11 trips to Africa since 2010. Some of it has become face masks and some curtains. My dining room is now bright with potato print tablecloths featuring elephant and guinea fowl patterns from Zimbabwe, and fish pattern curtains I made from fabric purchased in Sierra Leone. In the curtains, matching the leaping fish on either side of the center took some planning!

Earlier Katysblog posts with pictures of arts and crafts from some of my travels in Africa:

Potato print tablecloths from Zimbabwe
Dining room with African fabrics August 2020
Fabric purchased Sierra Leone 2017
2014 TechWomen in fabric shop, Rwanda2014 Rwanda
2017 Sierra Leone
2019 Sierra Leone Fabric2019 Sierra Leone

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Images Copyright 2014-2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Process for Online Video Services

Since 2014, my husband John Plocher has been running the Video Ministry for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Saratoga, CA. What started out needing a few hours a week using spare equipment has grown vastly since the Covid-19 pandemic took over our lives this year. John now routinely spends 12 or more hours a week creating and editing videos of music and worship services using sophisticated software and hardware. (Some of which were paid for by a 2018 St. Andrew’s Opportunity Fund grant.) John has been mentoring Youth Group members for over a year to develop their technical skills and extend the Video Ministry. In the hope that recruiting and training even more helpers will reduce his own load, John has written these process documents.

Online Worship Services and Music

John has developed a chat and video best practices exchange group – contact me if you want to join. He publishes stand-alone videos of the classical and folk service music on  Saint Andrew’s Sings. Go there to hear “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” the “Navy Hymn,” a folk Taizé “Jesus Remember Me,” “Rest in the Lord,” “Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise,” “We’ll Meet Again,” and other favorites. Or, hear the music as part of the weekly worship service videos. (More in my blog post New Music for Quarantine Times.)

I have been helping John by reviewing videos during development, finding memes for the end, and providing photos for preludes and postludes:

John Plocher, St Andrews Video Ministry January 2020

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Images Copyright 2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Honoring STEM Mentoring

ECR Simple Servant Award to Katy Dickinson 3 Nov 2017

At the 37th Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real annual convention last weekend, I was honored by Bishop Mary Grey-Reeves with a second Simple Servant Award for my work since 2010 with the TechWomen mentoring program of the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The award certificate reads:

Simple Servant Award
Presented on November 3, 2017 to
Katy Dickinson
The Diocese of El Camino Real honors you. May God bless you for your
faithful ministry mentoring women in Africa and the Middle East in STEM
professions, and for your contribution to the creation of a “virtuous cycle” of
knowledge and wisdom sharing in the world of technology.

It has been an honor and pleasure to work with TechWomen and my mentees from Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Watching this program thrive and touch so many lives is a great delight. Since I worked in 2010-2011 as the TechWomen Process Architect, I have been a volunteer with this life-changing program as a mentor, working with groups of STEM leaders who travel to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley to be hosted by 122 science and technology companies and organizations for a month (and then continue a mentoring relationship once they have returned to their home country).

Beginning with the first cohort of 37 from 6 countries in 2011, there have been 518 TechWomen Fellows from 22 countries and 698 mentors. I have formally been assigned to mentor 14 women in Lebanon, Algeria, Gaza-Palestine, Jordan, and Tunisia – and have worked with many more who have asked me to be their mentor. I have also participated in nine formal TechWomen Delegations with the State Department, to: Jordan (twice), Kyrgyzstan, Morocco (twice), Rwanda, South Africa, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe, as well as making informal trips with TechWomen mentors to visit our mentees in Lebanon, Gaza-Palestine, and Sierra Leone.  Learning from my sister mentors as well as from my mentees is part of the joy and value of this excellent program for Citizen Diplomats.

Want to make a different in STEM? Please consider joining TechWomen as a mentor yourself!

ECR Convention Simple Servant award Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Katy Dickinson 3 Nov 2017 by Elrond Lawrence

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Photo Copyright 2017 by the Diocese of El Camino Real, Elrond Lawrence.

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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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Filed under Home & Family, Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

How to Display Stones in Earthquake Country

Sea Lily crinoid fossils Scyphocrinites elegans from Morocco on wall plaque

Displaying stones can be a challenge, especially in California where we regularly have earthquakes. If you are lucky, a decorative stone will come with a suitable base. Or, if the stone is small, a store-bought plastic stand may work. However, for large, heavy stones custom design and fabrication are needed for the best presentation. If you are handy like my husband John, you can make stands and pedestals yourself.

Here is what we are avoiding. This is a large cloisonné metalwork vase John and I bought in China which was flattened in an earthquake when it fell to the floor:
Chinese cloisonné vase smashed in an earthquake

Example 1: Small Fool’s Gold Sphere

iron pyrite, fool's gold sphere 1 Aug 2016

Basic hoop: My son Paul gave me this pretty iron pyrite (fool’s gold) sphere along with a clear plastic hoop for a stand.  The hoop keeps the sphere from rolling but it is only held in place by gravity. In an earthquake, this heavy sphere will probably smash something.

Example 2: Ruby Crystals on Quartz

Ruby Crystals on Quartz on a stand, from China
Simple pedestal: John brought this rock to Paul as a present from China some years ago.  It is ruby crystals on quartz, on a custom pedestal. The quartz has been carved away from the crystals to show them off. You can see in the photo below that the pedestal it came with has a trough or fitted hole carved into it the exact size and shape of the stone.
pedestal or stand for a rock

Example 3: Zimbabwe Shona Sculpture

Large fitted pedestal: I carried home this Shona sculpture of carved serpentine for John when I was in Zimbabwe with the 2016 TechWomen Delegation. I asked the sculptor, Martin Chirenda, to sign it before before wrapping. The sculpture weighs over sixty pounds and is top-heavy. We were concerned that it would break or hurt someone falling over in an earthquake. John made a low oak pedestal by carving a trough and then filling it with epoxy to fit the stone exactly. The stone is fixed to the dried epoxy with a thin pour of Karo (corn sugar syrup). Using Karo is a museum display trick that does not damage the art but keeps it firmly attached to its base.

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare, 26 Feb 2016 . Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare, 26 Feb 2016

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare

sculpture stand

Martin Chirenda 2015 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe Harare on pedestal 10 July 2016

Example 4: Sea Lily Fossil from Morocco

Mounted on a Plaque: We bought this ancient double Sea Lily or Crinoid fossil at Consolidated Rock & Mineral in Vacaville for our anniversary. It was found in Morocco originally. The stone is heavy but the fossil itself is fragile. We wanted to display it so that it could be admired but not broken. John just finished making this wood plaque with hooks. The plaque is mounted to the wall with a French cleat.  These are the best flowers John has ever bought me!
Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

Sea Lily crinoid fossil from Morocco on wall plaque

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Videos from Jordan, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan TechWomen Delegations

Cathy Simpson Evelyn Zoubi TechWomen Delegation mansaf April 2016

The TechWomen Alumnae Council held a reunion for the Jordan, Zimbabwe, and Kazakhstan Delegations on 26 April 2016, hosted by AOL in San Mateo, California (in the Silicon Valley).  TechWomen Director Arezoo Riahi  reported that the three Delegations (of 37 Mentors from the US and almost 50 Fellow from 13 countries) together reached 1,925 girls and women.

John Plocher taped the inspiring personal and professional reports by IIE staff and Delegation members: the set of 11 videos is now available.  You can also watch the individual videos:

  1. Arezoo Riahi – opening, Delegations report, update on 2015 and 2016 TechWomen cohorts
  2. Audrey Simpson, Cindy Cooley, Cathy Simpson, Evelyn Zoubi – update on TechWomen Alumnae Council, and how to make Jordanian mansaf
  3. Katy Dickinson – Jordan, Palestine, Zimbabwe, and update on TechWomen Alumnae Resources
  4. Rekha Pai – Kazakhstan
  5. Rebecca Biswas – Kazakhstan
  6. Teresa Zhang – Kazakhstan
  7. Molly Pyle – Zimbabwe
  8. Sarasija Parthasarthy – Kazakhstan
  9. Shawne Van Deusen-Jeffries – Zimbabwe
  10. Zhilan Zweiger – Zimbabwe, Kenya
  11. Mary Karam McKey – “All Protocols Observed”

TechWomen Delegation event April 2016

Rebecca Biswas TechWomen Delegation event April 2016

TechWomen Delegation event April 2016

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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