In 2016 , I was lucky to be part of Techwomen Program . TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. department of state’s bureau of educational and cultural affairs, the initiative aims to empower the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by providing them the opportunity to live in silicon valley ; -the home of the global technology in the world – , for few weeks . Please check techwomen website to know more about this great program.
As a Techwomen16 emerging leader , I passed through many new experiences , I worked for three weeks at the great Mozilla , I got introduced to many new people and I visited many new places ! that was awesome !
We spent 5 weeks in the USA , four awesome weeks in silicon valley ,San Francisco , and 1 week in the capital of the state ! yess we visited Washington DC !!
Honestly , each day of the program was very special for me. Even it is hard to find words that express how much this experience was special and useful personally and professionally , I’ll try my best to mention the best of of it .
In addition to the mentor-ship program we had two type of events ; cultural and official events. The official events were organized by the awesome Techwomen team and the cultural events were organized by the amazing volunteers mentors who dedicated themselves to introduce us to the best places in the silicon valley and in Washington DC during weekends and in the evening after the mentorship day.
At the first week of the program we visited many high tech companies to attend several sessions . We started with twitter to perform the cultural kick off . As twitter is my best social media network it was extraordinary for me at that time to be in Twitter headquarter ! but after few days it becomes normal to visit this kind of companies , we have Techwomen permit sir 😄
The cultural kick off event was amazing ,the place was colorful ; all Techwomen ladies were stunning and shining wearing their traditional dresses. Each team represented their country by giving interesting information about it and performing traditional dance and songs in a very creative way.
As a part of the program , we were asked to write an action plan to solve a problem in our home country . It was very valuable to introduce to the problems and the solutions of different countries and I found out that many of our problems are in common so we could get benefit from some solution and apply it in our own situation.
In the next four days we visited many global companies like Symantic , Yahoo , Sun run ,LinkedIn to attend sessions about the program orientation and workshops to get prepared to work on our action plan.
During the program we attended several talks and panels at linked in ,yahoo, Instagram all of them were given by very inspiring and outstanding women .
They talked about their professional and personal experience and gave us tips to pass through life successfully .
One of the best official event was a voluntary day , all of us should have participated in an activity to give back to the community in the bay area, we had many options like help in building solar panel , cooking for elders and others , I chose to help in buildng an educational Tall Ship . It was beautiful and tiring activity at the same time . I worked with seniors who dedicate themselves to improve the education by building this ship for students .It was interesting and inspiring to see seniors spending their time in helping their community and improving their selves. I was really impressed by their passion , hard work and dedication.
In the second week we started our mentorship and I was a mentee at Mozilla ! Mozilla was amazing !I was lucky to have two amazing mentors at Mozilla , Maria Papova and Rina johnson . I spent most of the time with the lovely Maria, she was amazing and taught me a lot . Even I spent small amount of time with Rina the discussion I had with her and the information I got were very valuable ; we talked a lot about the IOT (internet of things ) and the security issues related to them and how Mozilla is trying to solve these issues.
With Maria , I was shown how to start a design sprint for a new Mozilla’s product , and how to make a competitors research to get benefit from the competitor’s products features and improve it and avoid their mistakes. I attended many meetings with the product team , and watched how they take decision in each step of the process .
In addition , me and the Els who were mentored at Mozilla had many useful workshops and meetings with inspiring people who work at Mozilla . we discussed many issues about education , women , career path , self improvement , Mozilla product . We got introduce to many Mozilla initiatives such us Mozilla clubs , Mozilla tech speakers , we know more about how Mozilla support developers and provide tools and tutorials to help them . Thanks to my dears Larissa and Liz .
I was surprised about the time and effort the Mozillians have done to create products that are accessible for everyone in the world even in poor countries who does not have high speed internet and high performance devices.
What make Mozilla more amazing was my colleague Chaioma , Mahina Estella and Shahodat . It was amazing working with them . we spent priceless time during lunch break talking about different interesting issues and sharing our cultures with Maria . I feel like I already visited Tajikistan, Nigeria , Cameron and Bulgaria .
The great Mozilla :
During Techwomen program we were always busy doing something new even during weekends and after the mentorship day . We were lucky to have several special cultural mentors who helped us spend amazing time introducing us to the most important places and exciting activities in the bay area and in Washington DC . Hicking near the ocean ,biking and kayaking at the shorline lake ,the angel island , Stanford university visit , The giants game , Yusimiti park trip , off the grid picnic , the golden gate hiking , the explorotorium . We spend memorable time there !
All cultral events was amazing and informative but the best for me was watching the giants game (the most popular baseball team in San fransisco ) at a real very big stadium with huge number of audience and big screens to show them cheering and dancing ! it was the first time for me to go to a stadium and attend a game , I spent 4 amazing hours eating popcorn , sandwiches , cheering the giants and shouting even though I have not understood the baseball game till now 😀
Our Trip to Yosemiti National Park was also very special , Marwa , Ghadeer , Uri ,Elena and I went there with the two amazing mentors Erin and Claudia , it took us around 5 hours to arrive but it worths it ! Erin drive most of the time ! and we were talking all the way ! we were a very diverse companion , Erine is american , Marwa , Ghadeer and I are palestenian , Claudia is Maxican , Uri from south Africa and Elina from Uzbekestan ! we talked about life , study , work ,culture , fashion , generation , studying ….We talked a lot and laughed a lot !
Many thanks go to Erine , Diane , Heather , Molly , Andria , Rashma , meryan , Jeniffer , Cloudia ,and everyone !
Furthermore , I was lucky to have cute relatives who live in the bay area , Mira and Ghazi added a very special taste to my visit , I spent very interesting time with them .They took me to many places in the bay area , we went to the ferry building , the fishermen wharf ,California academic of science , berkly university ,Japanese park , china town and others. Besides , I tried several new things with them ; booba(kind of a very strange tea with something like jelly balls in it ) , n out Burger (The most popular burger series in California ) , rode the cable car (the symbol of Sanfransisco and it is a manually operated cable car ) ,ate the most delicious Chinese food in a very traditional Chinese restaurant after waited our turn for 15 minutes as it was full ,watched old chinees ladies wearing I ❤ SF T-shirts dancing a beautiful traditional dance .
Cultural Activities :
At the last week of the program we went to Washington Dc , we stayed in a hotel which is near the national mall , where we could easily reach many iconic places in the capital of the state . at the first night in Washington DC we played a game called Scavenger hunt . We were divided into teams of five The game has many listed places where each team should seek and find all of them in order to win . We use google map to arrive to Washington monument ,Albert Einstein memorial, Korean war veterans Memorial ,Martin Luther King, Roosevelt Memorial and Lincoln Memorial .
The two next days we visited Eisenhower Executive office which is considered part of the white house we attended several discussion panels there, led by outstanding women . The panels addressed several topics such as tech entrepreneurship ,tech inclusion and many other topics related to women and education .
The next two days we attended sessions in the department of state the sessions were by many people who work there , such as Catherine Russell – U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues – and Mary Ellen Weber – Consultant with Stellar Technologies and former NASA astronaut- and others .
At the end of the day we got Techwomen certificate and guess what !!! it was 14th Octobre and it is my birthday ! when our Areezo said my name she said something like “This name is very special , congrats to the birthday girl and mentioned my name ” I was so much surprised ! how she got to know my birthday ! thanks to my amazing mentor Maria for organizing this ! and after this all ladies started singing Happy birthday to me ! Actually it was really unexpected surprise and it was awesome to have people celebrate me in the state department .
As my birthday is a very important occasion and luckily I were surrounded by great caring people I had another birthday at night in the hotel organized by the lovelies Erin , Marwa and Ghadeer . I’m so much thankful 🙂
and I got a great beautiful gifts, from Diane and Erine ❤ , which is a paint that represents Techwomen ladies in the cultural kick of .
The last day in Washington , we visited the white house , the capitol building and Washington museums and parks . what is special about Washington is that it has a lot of special and huge museums and you can visit all of them for free .
Unfortunately, I only had time to visit two museums ; national air and space museum and the national natural history museum which is the most visited natural history museum in the world, and the most visited museum (of any type) in North America.
At the end of the last day we had the farewell party … we said good bye to the amazing Techwomen team , to the mentors and to the amazing Els .. till we meet again 🙂
For me , Techwomen was a really life changing experience , I achieved things that is impossible to be achieved without it and learned things that need many years and travels to be learned . I got improved personally and professionally , I learned priceless new things and I enrich my network a lot . Because of Techwomen I now have friends in many places on this earth from different cultures , religions and backgrounds , I realized that the world is so much diverse and open and even that sometimes we are so much different we could be so much a like !
Finally , thanks a lot to everyone who make this program such success and I strongly recommend all ladies who are illegible not to hesitate to apply for the next rounds of Techwomen which I hope that it will last forever ! Please let me know if you need any help in applying , you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org