Travel Log 13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Aileen Sheluck – London, England

Dating all the way back to our seminars in November, we have been talking about rites of passage and how they come in many different forms. Some are huge, like marriage. Some are smaller, like getting a driver’s license or coming of age in whichever religion you may practice. Blumenkrantz and Goldstein talked about how in American society, there are no true, defined rites of passage, and it is confusing to adolescents when they truly have completed one. I agree with this to some degree. I think that it is confusing that we can drive at age 16, we can vote, get married, sign a contract, join the military, and buy cigarettes and age 18, but we cannot drink until age 21. This begs the question – when have I truly entered into my new self? I know that for me, I thought that a huge rite of passage in my life was getting my driver’s license. I’m young for my grade so I was the last of my friends to get it (people who were in the grade below me had their licenses before I had mine – some people had their licenses before I even had my permit). It never occurred to me that this may not even be considered a rite of passage. In the reading, it says, “The ages at which youth receive certain adult privileges (e.g., right to drive, right to vote, right to drink, etc.) are rather arbitrary and are not related to any actual competencies or maturity on the part of the individuals who gain those privileges” (Blumenkrantz 43). This is very interesting because Americans consider theses thing to be “rites of passage” for a teenager. But when you think about it, what have you really done? Have you actually transformed at all? Have you separated, entered the liminal phase, and reincorporated? Personally, I’ve never thought about this before, but by the definition of a rite of passage that we studied, none of these events are truly rites of passage at all.

America really does lack community-based rituals that really make a teenager feel like an adult. I think that this is a problem for the global community that not a lot of people consider. America is such a big world power. Americans have more opportunity to see the world and impact the world than a lot of other countries’ citizens. If we have no defined “rite of passage” or process that makes us truly mature and become an adult, I don’t think that we can really reach our full potential to make a positive impact on the global community. I’m not saying that just because we don’t have certain ceremonies to “induct” us into adulthood, we can’t have an impact on the world or better the global community. I just think that if we had the ability to really experience a change within ourselves, we might better be able to change the world.

One element of a rite of passage that I wanted to talk about was the paradigm shift. This was defined as, “Adolescent development is connected to a community development process rather than being seen solely as an intra-psychic phenomenon. Interventions are ecological rather than individually oriented” (Blumentkrantz 44). I’ve learned about paradigm shifts before, and basically what it means is that you start looking at something a whole different way. I think this would be an incredible theme for my digital story. The possibilities with paradigm shifts are endless – it could be about stereotypes, culture, or even misconceptions about myself. I’m excited about looking more into this concept to be a part of my digital story. Another element of rites of passage that caught my eye was silence. I think this would be super interesting to include in my digital story. Not a lot a people really see value in silence. For most of us, silence is often preceded by “awkward.” But I’ve learned in my time here that silence can sometimes be the best way to get in touch with yourself and your surroundings. I think this concept could really enhance my digital story. And finally, I also might want to include that rites of passage create expectations for socially appropriate behaviors. I agree with this, and, tying back to America seeming to lack rites of passage, I think that it would be interesting to discuss the differences in socially acceptable behaviors between our cultures.

The digital story that I connected with the most was the one that encompassed Rachael’s time in Paris. She talked about how being in Paris caused her to break out of her comfort zone and do things she wouldn’t normally do at home. I really relate to this feeling, and I think I want to touch upon it in my digital story, too. She used so many good pictures, showing Paris in the different times of year. I felt like I was there with her as she watched Paris change seasons. I also think that she used the motif of the blossoms very well. It helped me to feel her emotions, too. And finally, the music she chose fit the digital story very well. I think that really added to the overall feel of the digital story. By the end, I felt connected with her experience. I definitely want to take those things into account when I make my digital story.

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One thought on “Travel Log 13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Aileen Sheluck – London, England

  1. “I’m not saying that just because we don’t have certain ceremonies to “induct” us into adulthood, we can’t have an impact on the world or better the global community. I just think that if we had the ability to really experience a change within ourselves, we might better be able to change the world.” I agree completely with this statement. I struggled a bit with the concept of Americans not having rituals and how it affects us. It’s difficult because how would you know or truly understand unless you had something to compare it to? I think this statement you made is very accurate and truly explains how rituals better our experiences, but don’t necessarily hold us back completely.

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