AnnJanette Alejano-Steele, Ph. D.
Research Director, The Colorado Project
LCHT Co-Founder and Board Chairperson
Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking
To blog. A foray into my brain and the spaces it is privileged to navigate. Cue: Chasing Pirates, Norah Jones:
My assignment this week is to reflect upon the start of my recent travels in relation to my work with the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking. However, as I began this current journey, I realized that I needed some kind of “anchor” blog. Something eloquent and witty to set off a series of blogs; a starting point of some kind.
And it felt a little overwhelming. I must have started a handful of times. And true to the social scientist that I am, I did my due diligence and did some research.
Word length. Tone. Level of seriousness. What are these bloggers trying to convey? With the guidance of our communications expert, I read…many…many blogs.
And the anxiety increased ever so slightly.
Reading through the blogs, I got insight into the different ways in which people shared what was happening in their heads. Thoughts. Observations. Irritations. Passions. To consider this was to really think hard about the thoughts in my own brain and whether it was blog-worthy. Of course I overthought this.
I came to the realization that it’s rare that I think with one “hat.” And I’m fortunate to never really have to be in a position to think “alone.” The nature of the Laboratory is to mix ideas and perspectives; the work and thinking of my incredible colleagues informs one another. We’re fortunate to be able to think intentionally and critically about nuances of the anti-trafficking movement. So for me, to blog is not only to share what’s going on in my own head, but to honor and feature the influence of family, friends and countless colleagues on my thinking. I’ve been extremely lucky to engage in some poetically simple and fantastically complicated conversations related to human trafficking.
And then there’s the added challenge of the hats that my brain occupies.
Psychologist. Co-Founder. Academic. Victim Advocate. Feminist. Daughter. Partner. First-generation U.S. born Pacific Islander-American. Musician. Board Chair. Dog owner. Research and Training Director. Runner. Wanna-be oenophilist. Nerd.
To have the privilege of knowledge from these various hats also means that I get to reside in what we refer to as “spaces in between.” Each of us at LCHT not only see these spaces in ourselves personally, but we get to help translate and make those connections to encourage shared learning. So for me, it’s concretely navigating my two academic departments, psychology and women’s studies. Navigating music and dance worlds. Navigating U.S. and Filipino cultures. Navigating law enforcement and service providers. Navigating academe and nonprofit cultures.
Admittedly, there are times where those spaces are vast, the kind where I need to use my “outside voice.” And sometimes that feels lonely where I belong everywhere and nowhere. Residing in these spaces can be exhilarating, aggravating and downright humbling.
As I begin this formal foray into the blogosphere, I’ll share two consistent threads that will help to set my blog intentions: random observations and music cues. Maybe it’s my scientific training, my curious observant nature, but these two things usually happen all the time in my head. Not only am I always sensing, I’m usually noticing something out of the ordinary. Or annoying. Or inspirational or insightful.
And there’s usually some kind of music playing in there as well. A soundtrack to my brain, you might say; it’s always there in the background and sometimes I just have to focus to notice it. It’s usually rhythmic, or speaks to my mood or reflects the “metronome” of my brain activity. Like Norah Jones’ Chasing Pirates for this blog; it’s there rhythmically calm and yes, those pirates roll around in there everyday. Oh, every now and then there’s a distracting or intrusive earworm (thanks, Foster the People). My co-workers will tell you of my ever-present music distraction, however it also serves as an absolutely critical factor to my sustainability in this field.
But then that would be an entirely different blog.