Travel Log 13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Chris Wilner, London, England

Through the meaningful conversations that I have had with my flat mates, and even the ones that may have bashed the United States in a critical manner, it is somewhat easier to see that American society has a problem recognizing rituals within life transitions. Something as menial as the drinking age is seen so differently here as it is in the United States and I think that transfers over to a lot of ways in which people are perceived differently. Here in the United Kingdom and most of the rest of the world everything happens at the age of eighteen. At that age, you are allowed to consume alcohol legally as well as purchase cigarettes, gamble and vote. This is contrary to the United States where you are allowed to purchase cigarettes, vote and gamble to some degree (playing the lotto and bingo at the casino), but you are not allowed on the gambling floors of a casino to play the slow machines until the age of 21 as well as consume alcohol. With these facts being stated, it is harder to ascertain at what age one is considered an adult in the United States, where it is clear in the rest of the world that at the age of eighteen, you are an adult.

There are a couple of contexts in which I can relate to these rituals. Turning 21 in the United States is a huge event that everyone goes out and celebrates because it is a rite of passage for many people but for those living here in the united kingdom it is just another birthday, and they have been able to consume legally for 3 years, unless they went for a visit to the United States. That is something that I see regularly with the students that choose to study abroad and even with one of my flat mates. She is from the United States and can consume alcohol here, but when she goes home she will not be able to. This may be something that will be infuriating for her because of the freedom that she had here and when she goes home she will have to abide by the laws set in place by our government.

Many people argue that this law is unjust for a variety of reasons and as someone who is and has been of age for a while I see it in two forms. Alcohol is a drug that affects the mental cognition of many people in different ways and at the age of eighteen many people are not mature enough to handle large quantities of it and may end up going way beyond the boundaries. At the same time at the age of eighteen you are able to enlist in the military and fight or die for you country but you are not mature enough to consume alcohol. It is an experience for many that is aggravating and it also blurs the lines as to where the life transition may occur. I use alcohol as an example because I went through the transition already so it is something that is easy for me to talk about.

In our younger years we go through more life changes than we do when we are older because things are still new to us. Becoming an adult is something that everyone views as a life changing experience, but it is market in different cultures at different ages and times. With that being said, this makes it difficult for the healthy development of the Global Community because of the mindset that people have. If society deems that you are an adult at a certain age in a certain culture then a mindset will follow from said person. In the Jewish culture one typically has a Bat Mitzvah at the age of thirteen and in the eyes of the religion said person is an adult. In the rest of society however, that person is still a child and is treated as such. When someone is recognized to have gone through a rite of passage in one society, but not another it becomes infuriating conflict arises. If community based rituals were present and recognized the global community would be able to flourish because there is an understanding that has been set in place by people who belong to the community.

Through the growth that occurs in a rite of passage it is important to see that we too are on our own journeys discovering maybe who we are or what purpose we have in life. Studying abroad is a rite of passage in a different way for those who embark on this journey; for me, the elements that I found pertinent to my journey were adversity or personal challenge, time alone for reflection, and opportunities to demonstrate new competencies and status. In order to create a digital story, you must be able to recognize the story that you are going to tell and I think time for personal reflection is important not only to be able to gather your thoughts, but to understand everything that you do in a day or the reason that you have done something in the past. Through personal I will be able to find the exact story that I want to tell and the way in which I want to tell it to represent me. For a good story to capture the audience, you must be able to present a challenge and a way that it has been overcome as everyone faces challenges while they are in a foreign land and thousands of miles away from home. This element is important because without challenge there is no growth and without growth a rite of passage has not happened. Demonstration of new competencies and status are things that are important to implement into a story because it shows the growth that has occurred no matter how bit or small that growth is.

Through viewing relevant digital stories, it helped to understand the components that must be incorporated in order to convey the necessary message as well as the context in which it should be conveyed. The story that resonated with me the most was Rachel Cox’ story of her transformation in Paris. I think this resonated with me the most because I too landed in a big city unsure of what to expect when I got here and the more time I spent in the environment, I realized how much love I have for the place that I am currently calling my home. The story was successful because of the visuals that were used. I am not only talking about the pictures that were shown, but also the story that was told of the neighbor. It was so vivid that you can see the conversations taking place over something so small as the flowers, but it was something that changed another person’s life.

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