Friday, March 6, 2015

Until Now and From Here On

Confession time.

I struggled with blogging the first few months of my fellowship. I've struggled with blogging the most recent months of my fellowship, but for different reasons. For the first three months, I was excited but clueless. I had the motivation to write but not nearly enough knowlege to speak with authority. In response, I posted about filler topics like what I packed for this adventure.

From December to February, I struggled with the opposite problem - a paralyzing amount of information that I wanted to share. I was experiencing far more than I had ever experienced of the world, and it was overwhelming. I felt like putting my observations and reflections into a book would be easier than bite-size, relatable blog posts. And if you've read any of my posts, you're probably laughing at even the use of the word "bite-size." As a result, my posts felt forced - even mechanical - and once again lacking substance.

Finally I feel as if I've reached the point where I can communicate both genuinely and informatively. This means I won't be posting anything else about "what's in my suitcase." If any of you care about that topic - just ask. Now that I have begun to wrap my mind around this mammoth of a problem, I feel it is time to spend my energy on more pertinent topics.

Until Now

Some of you may have noticed that I have taken a significant break from posting for the month of February. Trust me, I needed it. I spent a great deal of time reflecting on the previous six months: what I had seen and how it was (and is) impacting me. Here are the three lessons I've learned:

  • Sexual exploitation is everywhere. Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, North America - everywhere - no country is immune. I feel like I've covered this pretty adequately in many of my country overview posts, but it had to be said, and I will certainly continue to post these overviews.
  • There is no "silver bullet" solution. Someone described tackling this problem to me as looking at an object through a diamond. There are numerous angles by which to do so, and each one is at least slightly distorted. More on this in later posts.
  • If we all collaborate together with our different approaches to the issue, the problem is much more likely to be adequately addressed. I can't promise I will reach a point where I feel confident enough to cover this further on this platform. I'm still learning a great deal about the difficult road of partnership.

Those are incredibly basic conclusions, but I'm amazed at how many I had not yet reached at the beginning of this journey. I also think they are profound when they are hear, understood, and used to shape policy or practice.

From Here On

Like I said, I will continue to post country overviews. I think that's important. However, I plan to dedicate a great deal more time exploring the various ways in which this issue can be tackled, as well as give examples of organizations doing so. Finally, I want to make sure to provide all of you with resources, stories, and connections that can empower you to join in on this fight.

The biggest changes that will happen, though, are less tangible, but after some serious reflection, I've decided to take on a pretty major shift. So from here on, here are my promises to you, as a reader:

1. I promise to be genuine.

I mean real and even brutally honest. This journey has been difficult and incredible, but I don't think the encouraging stories make sense without the context of the struggles. I also recognize that many of you care not just for the issue at hand, but for my well-being. That means so much and I want to be sure to keep you all updated in that respect as well. My hope is to balance honesty with empowering encouragement. This post is the first step in that aim. Thank you all for your patience these last six months as I've struggled to find my genuine voice.

2. I promise to be bold.

In the past I have hesitated to draw conclusions about much of anything, not feeling qualified to speak authoritatively. However, I am beginning to see that few people are are experts in this field, and those who are became so through the types of experiences I am having. I have a long way to go, and I still will make attempts to cite credible sources, but I think it's time to start speaking my opinion boldly.

3. I promise to be empowering.

Previous posts have been informative, but maybe not helpful. I hope to begin providing you, my readers, with far more resources to equip you in this fight. Not only will I draw conclusions, but along those lines I hope to answer the "What now?" question that almost immediately comes to mind. I hope to answer this question in a more meaningful way from here on. For this, I need your help. Please send any questions you have about this movement through the contact form or in a post's comment sections.

Thanks for listening, everyone. I am excited to begin the last part of my journey with you.


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