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First week of Listening!


Hello Everyone!

What a busy week it's been on PulseWire! I'm so excited to see all of the comments and connections between Listeners and Applicants as we continue on our journey together.

At this point, we've received just a bit more than half of all of the Week 1 reviews. Remember, the deadline is end of day Tuesday the 29th for those! Wednesday afternoon I will be sending out the Week 2 specific assignments, so keep an eye on your Inbox.

I'd love to ask you all, how's it going? What reflections do you have on this first week of Listening? What have you enjoyed? What has been challenging? Feel free to share your personal thoughts as replies to this post, or start a new thread in the Listeners Group journal.

Once again, thank you all for being here with us to open your ears, hearts and minds to the women of the world!

Best wishes,


viochan's picture

Lessons Learned after Week 1

Thanks, Scott, for prompting this conversation to begin...

Below is one observation I've made about my own experience as a listener. I'd love to hear what others are feeling.

Depending on the time of day, I find I'm more or less receptive to different emotions. For example, I read my two first assignments in the evening, after a long day's work, and found myself really emotionally connected to the applicants' posts. My comments were positive and uplifting, full of hope and encouragement.

I read the rest of my assigned posts during the day, and this time I looked at them much more intellectually than emotionally, and I concentrated on their technical merit much more; thus, my comments were perhaps a bit less emotionally based and maybe - hmmm - colder?

So my plan for the next round is to read all of the posts once, then to read them a second time before making any comments. I'm thinking this approach would ensure I'm being fair to all the applicants by looking at their posts with the same "eye."

Looking forward to hearing from others...


irmia's picture

Week 1 Lesson Learned

Hey Scott:

Thanks for bringing up this question :)
And, below is my experience as listeners.

I decided to spend a day to read my assignments. I found it enjoyable (because I don't have to think about other things). All the stories I read were interesting because I had new lessons :) But, off course, there are criteria that worldpulse team have made, so I referred to it when I made the evaluation.

Regarding the evaluation sheet, I found it hard to answer the question about whether the applicants follow the instructions. To be honest, I was bit confused about it. But, I had no problem with the rest questions.

Basically, there was no significant problem I experienced. Everything is enjoyable, and I'm happy to be part of it :)


Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Hi Mia, You have a great

Hi Mia,

You have a great question about what "following instructions" means! What we mean by that, is did the applicant: follow the instructions about what to write about; and did she keep to the word limit; did she tag it correctly.

I hope that helps!

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Greta's picture

To Add to the Conversation

Thank you Violeta for your comments above, as they have me thinking.....

It is interesting to consider the time of day, one's energy level etc, in terms of how one chooses to respond to the posts.

I feel that I am almost always, initially, coming from the emotional based place in terms of my commenting. I recognize I need to be a bit more constructive regarding feedback on the quality of the overall writing etc. I believe I tread a bit too lightly on the technical aspects as I am concerned I might somehow, discourage instead of encourage, or in some way cross an inappropriate boundary in terms of cultural understanding. Something for me to work on as our intent is a level of success for each and every applicant.

My approach this week was to read all of them first and post my comment to each. Then return later and evaluate all of them at once, hoping that I am being fair in my assessment as well,

It sure is inspiring and I look forward to week 2!


viochan's picture

Great approach

Hey Gretchen,
Thanks for sharing - I like your approach of evaluating all of the posts at once and I may try it on our next round :)


Julie Tomlin's picture

Listening week one

I really enjoyed the process of reading the assignments but the biggest challenge I found was balancing out the very different places that people are at in terms of approaching the assignment.
Some were technically more proficient while those who may not even have English as their first language were of a different standard. But the passion of those pieces made the more technically adept pieces seem a little 'cold' in contrast.
I think it's a good idea to read all the pieces at once and then go over them again. I read them all and then spent some time re-reading them over a couple of days as I wanted to test my gut reactions to them.
I then went through them all completing all the questions and leaving comments. I wasn't sure how much to write..
I think the marking system reflects both the emotional and technical aspects of the writing process but I found it very difficult to reach a decision on some of the pieces. The enthusiasm of the applicants is so evident it seems a huge responsibility.

Looking forward to week 2 also.



Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Julie, You have a very

Dear Julie,

You have a very good point! It is sometimes difficult to compare pieces where the authors obviously have vastly different language skills. I think if we all remember that we are trying to listen to the inner voice of these women, the soulful stories they are wanting to share, and remember that usage of grammar and vocabulary are secondary (and can be learned!), that should help. We are looking for women whose leadership and vision shine through and who would benefit from our training--no matter what their language!

If you ever have any questions about the evaluation process, or a particular applicant's assignment, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

busayo's picture

Week one experience

I read all my assignment in a day, I made sure it was the time i would not be distracted and i really enjoyed reading
the pieces. I found out that everyone was unique in their own way and because of my experience as a former appilicant, i could see that those women poured their heart into their writings, infact it was like i was sitting with them, hearing them and feeling what they were feeling when writing. I found it easy to score each person except that at times i was so moved that it almost affected my scoring but i tried to detached my emotions and scored accordingly. It is a great, refreshing, inspiring and wonderful experience listening.
Looking forward to week 2


Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Thank you Busayo for sharing

Thank you Busayo for sharing your insight into this process! I think as a former Correspondent, you have a very unique view of the applicants. What do you think so far of our evaluation process? Does it make it clearer what we were looking for when you applied? Do you think it is a good tool or do you have suggestions about how we could make it better?

Thank you again for your time and your passion as a Listener (and a fabulous 2009 Correspondent!).



"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

irmia's picture

I did the same thing :)

Hey Busayo:

I did the same thing!
Spending one day to read all my assignments gave me more focus.

I read all of them at once... Save them in MS Word... Then I read again.
After that, I gave them comments and evaluate them.


ccontreras's picture

Thank you Scott for

Thank you Scott for requesting our feedback! It has been a great experience for me so far. I finished all of the assignments in one day and I immediately wanted to keep reading more. I felt connected to some of the stories I read and I want to keep knowing more about these wonderful women! I feel this assignment has allowed me into the lives of different women abroad, which is a great learning experience. I learned something new from each story I read.
Anyway, I look forward to week 2 assignments! :-)

"I embrace emerging experience. I am a butterfly. Not a butterfly collector." - Stafford

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Contreras, Thank you for

Dear Contreras,

Thank you for your time as a Listener! You are more than welcome to add these women to your network of friends--in fact, we encourage you to do so!

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Tina's picture

Enjoying the listening

I loved reading all my assignments for week one. Last year as a correspondent I was actively working on raising my own voice. This year as a listener I have the opportunity to help raise up the voices of other women. It is a great privilege to continue to be a part of such a wonderful movement and program for global women's empowerment.

I read all my assignments on the same day and commented on them as soon as I'd read them. This was so I could respond instinctively and uniquely with my gut reactions to each and every one. I agree that it can be challenging to compare the assignments that have great technical merit to those where the language may be off. However I really try hard not to. For me, the assignments with the least linguistic (English) and technical ability are often the ones that can sing out with the loudest of voices. I am looking forward to reading the next ones...

Julie Tomlin's picture

Hi Tina, I agree with you on

Hi Tina,
I agree with you on that point that often those who are writing in their second language are the ones that can sing out loudest.. The passion of some of those pieces was so clear and strong.



Pushpa Achanta's picture

Listening, learning, loving...

Hello all,

Thanks for starting this and sharing - I'm enjoying it like everything else about World Pulse.

My 'Subject' above summarizes what I'm doing while reading the participants' profiles, stories and connecting with them. I feel humbled, enriched, shaken and inspired! Also, I'm delighted to find women in remote areas accessing the Internet, realizing its potential and using it for their and others' empowerment. Further, I think that their technical and English language skills are good.

I completed the review and comments for a piece together although I didn't see all the articles on the same day. But I believe this didn't affect my objectivity or empathy. I suppose our approach depends on our preferred style of functioning apart from priorities, energy, etc.

Let's continue growing together....

Love, joy and peace (LJP) to everyone,

Pushpa Achanta's picture

Question and suggestions

Dear Rachael/Scott,

It's great seeing your detailed and prompt responses amidst your busy schedule. I'm ok with the length of the assignments being up to 510 words but can you please provide your opinion?

Btw, it would be helpful if the evaluation form had the following:

a. A Save option for storing drafts temporarily before submitting them finally
b. Space to provide remarks/notes on the ratings (not on the assignment itself), if any

Thanks again for steering this fulfilling activity smoothly.

Pushpa :)

viochan's picture

A second vote for "additional remarks"

Thanks for bringing this up, as it reminded me of my one frustration in filling out the evaluation form. A place in the evaluation form to provide more context to our scoring would be so welcome! if anything to allow us to "talk through" difficult choices.

Thanks again,


Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Violeta, Thank you for

Dear Violeta,

Thank you for your message! I know it is difficult to assign a number score to such personal stories, but the comments you give to your applicants on their posts is a way for you to give more detailed feedback to them. If you come across an assignment that you just don't know what to do with, or are having trouble evaluating, you can always ask me. We have to be reasonable when assessing these assignments, consider that English isn't the first language of many, but at the same time, applicants must be able to follow directions and bring their stories to us in a way that makes sense.

Does that help?

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Pushpa, Thank you so

Dear Pushpa,

Thank you so much for your good questions! A couple of quick answers: To get a full score on following directions, an applicant must answer the question fully as well as stay within the word limit. When you encounter someone who is slightly off in their word count, encourage them to make changes to stay within it. If it is within a few words of the limit (say 505-510), I would still be comfortable in giving a full score. However, any more than that and I would reflect that in a lower score in the following directions question.

Thank you for your suggestions about the evaluation form, we make changes each year based on your suggestions and input!

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

deltaqueen's picture

Soaking it in!

I enjoyed reading each of my assignments. As Busayo had stated I read all of my assignments at one time. I found a quite place that would not have (too many) interruptions. I also found it inspiring to write comments after I read an assignment, so that I can make sure I was "soaking in" what the writer was trying to say. I printed out the evaluation forms and each assignment that I had to read so that I can accomplish more at a faster pace. It was a little time consuming for me to go back and cut and paste to make sure the writer did not excced the word limit.
Overall, the process and enjoyable and I look forward to reading the next batch of assignments.



Lisa T's picture

First Week

Hi everyone,

I enjoyed reading the assignments and all of the comments from the other Listeners. I read over all of the assignments on the first day I received them, but didn't comment or evaluate for a few days. I let their assignments soak in and l think that helped when I went back to evaluate and comment. Certain assignments held more resonance for me after the first reading and those tended to get higher evaluations.

Like some of the other Listeners I was unsure about how much feedback to give on each assignment. I almost felt like I was being "too hard" on the applicants, but I tried to provide as much positive feedback as possible. Any other words of wisdom on how much feedback/constructive criticism to provide?


Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Lisa, In giving feedback

Dear Lisa,

In giving feedback to applicants, it is important to straddle the line between constructive criticism and supportive encouragement. I would suggest if you give some constructive criticism on a piece, that you balance it with a supportive comment or two. That way we encourage the women to both learn from their mistakes and to keep writing!



"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Kathleen Abood's picture

Sharing our Stories and Our Dreams

Being a Listener has opened new pathways for me to community through the World Pulse women's network. Busayo has commented that she [felt] "like I was sitting with them, hearing them and feeling what they were feeling." I feel this way, too! This is the blessing of our active listening.
I have also read all my assignments first, plus selecting several more applicant's stories to broaden my vantage point. I have found every story emotionally compelling and so for evaluation, I search for the particular aspects that define a wise giver, a leader and an obvious personal commitment to all forms of the communication arts.
We are looking for citizen journalists, correct?

Kathleen Abood

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Kathleen, You have hit

Dear Kathleen,

You have hit the nail on the head! We are looking for grassroots leaders who would benefit from increasing their skills in Web 2.0 and citizen journalism to allow them to create social change in their lives, their communities and nations. We value courage, creativity, passion, voice and leadership. Two things to reflect on as you are thinking about evaluating assignments and applicants, are the criteria we defined in the Voices of Our Future Applicants Group that we will use to select the top 30:

* Completion of all assignments
* Expression of a positive vision for the future and solutions-oriented writing
* Commitment to promote global issues through the eyes of women
* Communication of personal experience as an underrepresented voice in your community, nation, or world; living in a developing country or conflict zone; or facing discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, or social class
* Demonstration of leadership on a personal, community, national, or global level

And our seven founding values:

Through our Voices, we are able to create a new world.

With Courage we create Possibility.

With Beauty we Innovate the world.

Through Connections, we Transform our world.

If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Bhavya's picture

did they answer the question?

I read the assignment, commented and then evaluated it - 5 in a row. I found it difficult to say whether they followed the instructions because most users just wrote how web 2.0 affects their lives in a personal account without actually answering the 3 questions - what excites you? What solutions does web 2.0 bring to the global women's movement? How does web 2.0 empower you?
Then, I found I had to draw the answers out from the essays even though the applicant had not necessarily answered the questions. I then began to evaluate based on how concise, personal, informative each piece was.

Another issue is that I began to judge applicants based on their photo and which country they were writing from. I evaluated a British girl and expected her to have good grammar and diction. Another girl from an African country I was so impressed that she could write equally well. I think it is a problem we have that we stereotype certain underdeveloped countries as also producing a lesser educated person...which is not always the case!
One girl's photo was intimidating (she was not smiling, and looked angry) so I felt that if i leave a comment that she did not answer the question that she might is a silly thought to have but that is one issue i encountered.I want to be encouraging but I also don't know how to offer constructive criticism without applicants feeling insulted.

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Bhavya, Thank you for

Dear Bhavya,

Thank you for your input on the evaluation process, you bring up some good issues:

1. Personal Bias: We all have personal biases and we need to make sure that doesn't come through in our evaluations. Remember, someone who is "writing from the US", may not actually be from the US! She may be an immigrant with newly acquired English skills. Similarly, just because a woman is from a developing country, doesn't mean she isn't well educated or have a good knowledge of English.

Bhavya, you bring up a great point that we should all be aware of our biases as we move through these evaluations and remember not to let our stereotypes lead us!

2. Answering the question: Although we have given applicants a very short word limit for the assignments, we have also given them very concise questions to answer! You have to take into account that not everyone has a firm grasp of English, and so they may not understand the question 100%. However, they must do their best to answer the question to its fullest. If they do not, or if they only answer half the question, you need to reflect that in your evaluation.

IMPORTANT: For women to be able to take full advantage of our program, they must be able to understand our materials and follow directions. This doesn't mean they need to write perfectly, or even understand directions 100%, but they must get close.

3. Commenting: Don't be afraid to leave comments--this is how we all learn! Just make your comments constructive. Iinstead of saying "you didn't answer the question", you could say "I loved X part of your assignment, but it seemed like you didn't answer the second part of the question. I would love to learn more, could you expand a little on your assignment?". Or "did you know you had to answer XX question in this assignment? Would you like help with your next assignment in understanding the directions fully?". If you are nervous to leave a comment in public, you can also send them a private message! It is always nice to follow up constructive criticism with a supportive comment, such as "I loved XX about your piece and felt very moved!".

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

One of Many's picture

Already enthused from the first week

I agree that is hard to make those choices on the score / evaluation sheet. The problem is that probably the sheet needs to be cut and dried like that so the comparisons and final analyses can be made.

I appreciate hearing above about a focus on listening for the voices and the message, over technicalities. My understanding is that we want to be supportive and give lots of feedback about what is working in the essays, as well as our questions for the writers, because the writing development happens more in the next series, after the finalists have been chosen.

The way I did my listening this time was to read through all the essays and then go through them each, writing the evaluation and the comment, one by one, but having a comparative sense between them from having read them all first. We will have more of that comparative sense now and as we move on, too.

I have a sense that some of the writers are a bit timid now, and that their voices will get stronger as they hear more and more about what they are doing right, our questions, and what we want to hear more of....

Such an exciting and rewarding process! Definitely appreciating it,


Speaking my Peace

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Anna, Thank you for your

Dear Anna,

Thank you for your input, you are exactly right! We are looking for voice over technical writing ability (although they need to be able to communicate at least moderately!), as the writing development will happen in our full program. Also, the more these women write, the less timid they will become!

Thank you!


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Christine.Dahl's picture

thank you for this thread

I found the discussions above very helpful. I can use what I learned here as I go into week two. Before starting, I did not find enough information on what to offer in a comment on an assignment. I would like to help each person improve without feeling discouraged. Now I feel more comfortable leaving a comment about how to improve on a future assignment. For example, several assignments that I read were under 200 words and did not adequately answer the questions. Next time I will offer encouragement to write a longer piece.

olutosin's picture


I got a genuine understanding this time around, the applicants I reviewed were passionate only just one was below my understanding of what it should be but this gave me a real understanding of what it should be then....there was one that moved me to tears but these women are just brilliant. Just one of them did too low, I felt like writing her to add more words next time.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


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