Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rite of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By Ashley Moreau, Cork, Ireland.

It’s hard to believe that it is already November and that my study abroad journey is 2/3 of the way finished. It has been quite the journey thus far and I think that the rest of this month, and my three weeks here in December, will prove to be the same. Exploring my study abroad experience through the lenses of rite of passage theory has been really meaningful but also very helpful. The lack of these ‘community-based rituals’ during transitional periods during American youth’s lives is staggering. It is hard to say how this lack of ceremonial rites of passage has influenced my development from youth into adulthood. I don’t know what type of person I would be had there been more specific ceremonies to celebrate my transition to being an adult, but I would like to think that I would have turned out very similar to my current self. I have a great support system between my family and friends, so I have been fortunate enough to say that I have had a smooth transition during most changes during my life, including my experience abroad. For others who aren’t as fortunate as I am, I could definitely see how the lack of these intentional events could be detrimental to their growth as an individual. The classic example that I can think of is the freshmen in college who hasn’t had any freedom their whole life and then goes crazy the second they get away from home. As the articles discusses this point, saying, “ In the absence of meaningful community-based rituals, youth will define and create their own marker events based on peer or media values, many of which may be destructive both individually and communally.”

From viewing the PowerPoint on digital storytelling, watching some examples, and my personal thoughts it seems to me that the purpose of a digital story is to describe an experience in a meaningful, articulate manor. One of the “twenty elements of rites of passage” is time alone for reflection. This element is enhanced by the creation of a digital story because in creating this project, it will require me to sit down alone and reflect greatly on my experience abroad and how the whole journey affected me. Further, I have noticed that this class in general, through our weekly readings and posts has successful achieved this element nicely of having us individually reflect on our experiences. Another element is the opportunity to demonstrate new competencies and status. This digital story is a perfect way for us to demonstrate our new competencies learned while abroad to our family members and communitas. Not that we should use it to brag about how we feel we have grown as individuals, but rather to celebrate different feats that we had while navigating foreign cities, different languages, and different cultural values. A third element that can be resonated nicely through a digital story is giving away one’s previous attitudes and behaviors. Creating a digital story is a perfect medium to show the transformation of my attitudes on the global community throughout the semester and how this has influenced me.

Viewing the digital stories was interesting because they were all unique and sent different messages to me as the reader. The one story that really connected with me though was Rachel’s story about her journey in Paris. I like the way that she incorporated a metaphor into her story and was very introspective when telling her story to us, it felt like I could connect with some of the same transformations that she went through as an abroad student. Further, I thought that her photos were stunning and very artsy, something I can’t promise in my digital story as my mind doesn’t quite see the world in that light. The essence of her experience seemed to be about her connection with her neighbor and how their conversations with her were able to grow each time they chatted about the trees outside, just as she grew as an individual through the experience. I am excited to begin brainstorming an idea for my digital story and to look through all my beautiful photos and videos taken throughout the semester.

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