Last week, I had the great fortune to meet with Busayo Obisakin , a Voice of our future correspondent from Nigeria and winner of a full scholarship to the US and The Empowerment Institute in New York. As a fellow correspondent who lived nearby, I was invited to a special lunch celebrating Busayo’s award.

I arrived arm in arm with my empowerment mentor, Lynn, a wonderful woman who had volunteered her time and experience to accompany my journey through the VOF program and counsel me through my personal obstacles to empowerment, to leadership. We had met in person for the first time only a few hours beforehand, and had continued to hug each other, and giggle, for the rest of the morning. We had made a strong connection through our sessions online, but meeting in person was like meeting a long lost family member. There had been plenty of tears and lots of laughter. As we walked into the room in this intimate bistro in downtown Manhattan, we were warmed by an open fire and remained filled with emotion.

I noticed Busayo right away. She was sitting at the end of the table wearing an “I Love New York” t-shirt. Busayo and I were two women from entirely different backgrounds and continents who had been brought together by this unique Voice of Our Future training program. We had connected through our training and had followed each other’s posts. Then there we were, only inches away from each other. I went over to her and introduced myself. “Hi Busayo, I’m Tina.” She stood to greet me and then looked to the others arriving at the table for confirmation, “Tina? This is Tina? “Yes,” they nodded, “Yes,” I said. “Oh my goodness,” and she held my face in her hands as we looked at each other and hugged and embraced and I started to cry.

The remaining guests began to arrive, each of us warmly greeted by our host, Gail Straub founder of the Empowerment Institute. Jensine was there, Busayo’s mentor Amy, world Pulse board members, friends of Gails and four, no less of the Empowerment Training Mentors who had guided us correspondents through this sometimes intense and most definitely life changing program.

Our meal began with a beautiful grace sung by one of the ladies present. Then Busayo began to speak her moving story. She told of her remarkable journey over the last year and her dreams for a center for women in her community. I would love to surmise all that she’d said, but her story is not mine to tell. It was clear however, that I was in the company of a powerhouse. This was not a woman who needed empowering. Indeed Gail had commented herself, that Busayo had enough Empowerment for all of us.

As Busayo finished talking, she fell silent awhile, seeming to take in all that she had accomplished in such a short time. All of us present confirmed our commitment to providing all that we could to support her in her vision, and as she looked up towards my end of the table, I blew her a kiss.

We were then introduced to the twinkle, a kind of silent gentle applause that brought smiles and love to all our faces. “Twinkle Twinkle,” our fingers moved through the air towards Busayo. A wonderful smile crept across her face and she embraced it all. She loves her twinkles, we were told, and that was clear.

As each of the women around the table finished their little bit about their large selves, we twinkled them too. Next it was my turn.

I spoke about how I couldn’t believe I was there among all these amazing women and that I kept feeling I needed to keep pinching myself. “You are amazing too,” Jensine said. I think I must have blushed. I continued to talk, about how much my life had been changed by this program and of how much larger my dreams and visions had since grown. I finished by echoing one of Busayo’s comments, “I am just beginning.” The women reached out their hands to let their fingers twinkle the air around me. Instead of embracing it as Busayo had done so graciously and sweetly, I felt embarrassed. I turned to Lynn, my mentor for support. Her hands were up in front of her face, her fingers twinkling at me gently too. “Accept the Twinkle,” she told me. And so I tried. It felt like a gentle and refreshing rain on my heart.

The empowerment that went alongside the Voice of Our Future citizen Journalism training was integral for me. Without my mentors help to overcome my self doubts and my lack of self confidence, I would not have been able to continue the program, to find my voice or to keep on publishing my writings. My fears and self-loathing had been my greatest obstacle to my own empowerment, and my greatest shame. Lynn who spoke after me during that luncheon that day, told of the great connection we had made with each other and how her work as my mentor helped show how I had not been honoring my true essence. I was overcome. I looked up to this table of extraordinary women, half expecting their disappointment at me being exposed as this woman who had not been all that I could or should be… and was met instead with nothing but love. As my eyes met Busayo’s, she blew me a kiss.

Busayo is on her way back to Nigeria now. Jensine and the rest of the World Pulse crew back to Portland and to their everyday lives. My mentor and I have promised to see each other again in person soon and I promised Busayo that when she returns for the next stage of her training in June, that I would do what I can to meet with her again.

Since that wonderful and remarkable day, my heart has been full with the community of women lending themselves in love and support to Busayo, to each other and to myself. Today, I feel proud of all that I have accomplished and vow to set aside my fears as I continue to embrace my part in this growing global women’s movement. My own empowerment is by no means complete, but I am learning to accept the twinkle.

Tina and Busayo participated in Voices of Our Future, a World Pulse program that provides rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.


As I read your sweet words, my arms felt your hugs, my cheeks sensed the kisses and my heart felt the love that has surrounded that lovely and powerful meeting of women in New York.

I am so grateful that you posted this! It made me fly, and I could not restrain a teardrop in my face. It is just so wonderful, and so inspiring. The complete journey and meaning of what it is to be a correspondent strikes my sould once again and a humble feeling of thankfulness to God and to everyone involved in this outcome rises in me again.

I am proud of being part of this community, proud to be your friend, and can't wait to meet you and hug you personally.

A squeeze to you honey!


Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva Tarija - Bolivia South America

Dearest Jackie, Thank you so much for your comments. I was hoping indeed to try to convey what it has been like to be a correspondent here and the enormous impact it is having on ourselves as well as the world. I hope I have been able to inspire others to participate, even if only a little. We have a great opportunity here to take the global women's movement forward, through our voices and through our connections. Love you too honey! Tina xxx

Dearest Tina,

Your description of Busayo and the electric beauty that surrounds her and her dreams is right on. I too felt the twinkle. And I felt a twinkle in your presence as well. It was such a special moment to connect in the flesh with women that have inspired me over the past year through your honest and powerful writing and beautiful spirits. I regret not spending more time with you and apologize for leaving so abruptly. I hope to see each other face to face again soon dear Tina!

Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

Love, Jade

Yes we definitely did not have anywhere near enough time together Jade. I hope very much to be able to spend more time with both you and Janice again soon. Tina xx

Hello Tina,

I am so pleased to read your post in pulse wire. I feel I am with all of you hugging and kissing each others. Listening to Busayo and looking all of you.. You have describe in a very beautiful words. As I was reading your post, I can imagine how you feel at that moment. Waooo! What an inspiring lady, our Busayo is.. VOF has bring all of us together and connect us with each other.

Thank you so much for sharing with us. I would love to meet you while visiting US...

Big hugs and kisses Sunita

With Love and RegardsSunita Basnet

Dearest Sunita, Yes Busayo is a wonderful woman and a true inspiration to us all. I hope that when she returns to her computer and reads all of these messages she will swell with pride! And Yes! I would love to meet with you too. In fact I can't wait!!! I am sure you, Malaya and Jackie will take the US by storm when you get here on your speaking tour. Much Love Tina xxxx

Dear Tina,

Wow. You are so lucky. It was really nice to hear from u the account of the meeting with Busayo and others. Great Job lady. I hope there are more such ocassions for u and us all as well.

Lots of Love

With best wishes,

Nusrat Ara 


Dearest Nusrat, I am so fortunate to be living in NY. It is true. So many of you pass through here and I love meeting all these wonderful women in person. I hope to be able to meet with you too someday. In fact, I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities for us all to connect more in person as we go forward on our journey together. Lots of Love Tina xx

I can't believe the joy you all felt to meet and hug each other. It is really a wonderful thing that this is really happening. Please keep us updated.

with love

Dearest Dando, Isn't it marvellous? We have created something wonderful here. Meeting and connecting in person is just the icing on the cake!! Much Love Tina x


Thank you for sharing not only this monumental experience, but also a little more of your experience during the program. It fills me with such joy to learn of your interpersonal journey of discovery and growth. And, my heart just signs that so many of you got to get connect, hug and kiss. I know I am not alone when I share that I more than a little envious. :-)



Jennifer Ruwart Chief Collaborator JR Collaborations

Dearest Jennifer, I wish you'd been there too, you were definitely missed. In fact during the meal, we twinkled you too. Hope you felt it from wherever you are today. I hope we will meet one day soon. Maybe I'll come to Africa!!! Tina x

Tina, Thank you for sharing your experiences and emotions. I met you last week at a WorldPulse reception for Busayo. I was greatly touched by what both of you had to say about your experiences becoming Voices of the Future correspondents. WorldPulse is unique in giving women's voices a way to be heard globally. I can't think of a better way for women to help themselves, their families, their communities and the world. I'm so pleased that you and Busayo have pursued this opportunity and found your voices.

Ellen from America

Thank you so much Ellen. It is true! World Pulse has created a unique forum for women's voices to be raised and for women's empowerment. For myself to be a part of it has been an honor and a joy.

Thank you so much for sharing this experience so vividly with us! I have only experienced Twinkles over the phone with Gail, but did feel the glow all around me then. I can only imagine how wonderful they feel in person. :)

What a joyful time you all must have had together! Like Jennifer said, I'm just a little envious...but, someday we'll meet too I hope. I am so proud of all that you and your classmates here have accomplished, and continue to reach for. It inspires me every day.

Thank you again for sharing your joy, your struggles, and your dreams with us. Keep it up, Tina!

Twinkles to you... Scott

Scott Beck

Hi Tina

It gave me so much joy to read your post, and imagining what you experienced....It is so wonderful that 30 women from completely different backgrounds, came together through World Pulse, and share a commonality...thank you so much for sharing with us your beautiful day!

Love Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

Hi Khushbu, I am so glad I was able to share a little of my experience with you. I agree completely with you, how wonderful it is that we have been brought together like this. We are all so different yet share this amazing opportunity to grow and raise each other up together, in friendship, in love and in shared resources. Much love Tina

Hi Tina! Nice to have you back here with us. I'm so much happy . My thoughts are flying there with you and excited to hug you there soon. Just dropping by .

love, malaya

Hello every body, I just got home and have the opportunity of openning my computer at the cybercafe. Meeting Tina was a memorable moment in my life. It is one thing to be communicating on line but another thing to meet face to face. It was like i can not have enough of her. I can't wait to meet you all in person. I am going to give you the detail of my experience in my post soon. It was a wonderful time i would never forget forever. Thank you Tina for your love and Twinkle. It felt so good and feeling sooo good now.

Much love Busayo

Busayo ObisakinWomen inspiration Development center Ile-Ife, Nigeria

Busayo, Here I am reading all these comments and the last of them is from you! I cannot wait to read your post, or to see you again in June!!! All the best to you and your family as you resettle back home, Tina xxx

Thank you Tina for sharing that wonderful encounter. We are blowing kisses and sending our love and encouragement for you all to continue to inspire us. I hope we can all get togeher someday. That would be wonderful.


Tina, Excuse the late response but I took a brief break after the board meeting to rejuvenate. When I think about meeting you in person, I start to tear up as the reality of standing in the room with you, Busayo, Amy and Fatima was so moving. I could not stop touching you all to confirm that this was not a dream and you might all disappear in a flash. To hear you speak so eloquently about your experience with VOF and to see the room captivated by your story reinforced the power of what we are doing. You all have a voice but we have the privilege of lifting your voices so that they reach far beyond your community. It was an honour to be in the room with such inspiring women and to know that you will continue to fly on the wings of those twinkles.

I hope that over time, you each will have the opportunity to connect with one of your fellow correspondents in person. The magic of those moments cannot be conveyed adequately in words and I look forward to the day when we read of another meeting. I have been forever touched by each and every one of you, and hope that my meeting with Tina and Busayo is just the beginning of many more. With much love and a big hug, Janice

Janice, You have made me cry and swell with pride and love all over again with this beautiful message. Thank you so much for all your lovely words. Meeting you in person was such a joy too. I feel the same way. Love and hugs and many more twinkles to come Tina x