A huge problem in American society in the last couple decades has been the growing prevalence of youth binge drinking, drug use, and pregnancy. Drinking, smoking, and sex are all activities that the youth affiliate with adulthood, and they choose to participate in these activities to make themselves seem more mature and of age, when in reality some are not ready for such behaviors. The American youth are, to say the least, confused of when they can be officially an adult in the eyes of society.
Youth: Is it after I get my license and can operate a motor vehicle?
Society: No you still are unable to participate in our government system.
Youth: I’m 18 and now have the right to vote and fight for our country, am I an adult now?
Society: Of course not! You can’t even sit at the bar and have a drink!
This goes on and on until one turns 21 where there ceases to be any more levels of age to conquer, but by then the damage has been done. The youth has been confused for so long that they start participating in adult activities at a young age and try to become a part of their community before they are ready leading to the bad activities that we see growing in the American youth. They see that around the globe in different countries, people the same age as themselves are allowed to participate in these activities legally, so the youth decides to participate illegally. Although they are the same age there are different circumstances for adolescence in other countries to participate in these activities. In other countries that allow this activity the adolescence are seen as adults and have a mentor and support from their community. In America though the community, because of its illegality, looks down on the youth participating in these activities. In the eyes of the community it is illegal and the youth are not legal adults.
Arnold van Gennep describes a rite of passage as community created and community directed experiences that transition cultural values and knowledge to an individual. There is nothing like this in our society, there is no real sense of adulthood for the adolescent. The youth in the last decades are stuck in a sort of purgatory between adolescence and adulthood, not quite sure when they are officially changed. This creates a disproportion between cultures around the globe on the topic of adulthood, forming more unnecessary distinctions between the cultures and the global community as whole.
Although I may not have had an official rite of passage in America, there have been many elements out of Blumenkrantz and Goldstein’s 20 Elements of Rite of Passage that have occurred while I have been in Ireland. 3 of the 20 characteristics in particular have stood out for me during my time in Ireland and are things that I would like to incorporate into my digital story, these being play, time for reflection, and connection with nature. These particular things have been a huge aspect of my time in Ireland and things that I wish to illustrate to my friends and family.
In Ireland I am always on a constant search for unbridled joy or the “craic” as they say. With such great people and great things happening each weekend in Cork, it’s not hard to find. This type of play has enabled me to hang out with people from all walks of life, allowing me to better my social skills with different cultures.
Although I am always looking forward to playing in Ireland, I also revel in the time that I can take in silence and reflect on where I am in life. This time sometimes doesn’t happen as much as I’d like it to back home and I always take the time to appreciate being alone and in silence when in occurs here.
Since I have been in Ireland I have also been taking in a lot of the nature around me. Ireland is where my heritage is so it’s amazing to see where my ancestors have walked before me and great to see the natural beauty of the country.
Although these elements of rite of passage are very different, for me walking has been the common link between them. I walk everywhere in Cork, whether I’m going into town with friends, or whether I’m just going to class or grocery shopping. I rarely if every use the public transportation system because walking offers so much. I am able to connect with the people I am walking with instead of having brief conversations as we go from one destination to the other. When I am walking by myself it also gives me time to reflect on the world around me and my place in it. The silence of walking is much needed in between the hustle and bustle of different activities and gives me the joy of clarity instead of the more expensive joy of convenience.
Walking will play a central theme in my digital story because of how much my life in Cork has revolved around it. I’ve seen how many people only look forward to the final destinations of their journeys instead of enjoying the journey itself and I want to bring to light that journey.
Caitlin Murphy’s digital story also brought to light the journey part, as she utilizes her bike throughout her experience in the Netherlands. She expressed wonderfully how scary it was at first in a new country but how she was eventually able to thrive in her new environment. She was also able to use her bike as a metaphor for her experience in the Netherlands and I hope to do the same with walking to illustrate my experiences in Ireland.