Travel Log 13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Zelia Pantani. Antibes, France

An essential element in Rites of Passage and making sure it is successfully achieved is community. I am a strong believer through my experiences that people who celebrate and grieve together, achieve and overcome more in life. Due to this belief of mine, I feel that community plays an active and essential role in healthy rites of passage and the coming of age to adulthood. Based upon the definition provided from Blumenkrantz & Goldstein that states “A modern day rite of passage is achieved when parents and the community create and participate in experiences which are perceived to be transformative by youth and, in fact, offer them increased status within the community and facilitate their healthy transition through adolescence” many kids don’t often go through this passage. Unlike Hispanic or Jewish people who have formal ceremonies of adulthood, generally as Americans we find an absence of a community-based ritual that leads to healthy development of a global community.  This then leads to various other problems such as teen pregnancy, illegal drug use and so forth.

I feel that the closest community-baesd ritual that Americans have to developing a sense of self in terms of the community is highscool—the scary time where everyone feels lost trying to find their place in the crowd. However, in cases like mine, I feel I did encounter this community based ritual. It began when I separated from my town, childhood friends and middle school to a completely new school, in a new town and with various people from all over. I went to Sacred Heart Academy, a catholic all girls college prep high school in Hamden Connecticut. Of course, this transition was hard, forcing me out of my comfort zone and to broaden my horizons—liminality. Feeling anxious and uneasy trying to find “my group” or “my people” with similar beliefs, values and goals to support me along the way. The liminanlity phase I would say lasted for about two-three years, finalizing somewhere through my junior year. Having a steady friend group, beliefs, guidance and plenty of academic rigor, I reincorporated the lessons I had been learning along the way into my daily life; I became me. This happened as I had to start looking forward again to a new journey formally known as college. Not everyone is privileged to attend private school, but I think that a more structured community in those important formative years, definitely counted as a community based ritual that helped me grow as a person in a part of my community.

While it’s also important to grow with and of your community, it’s also important the the community notices my own growth. This is the purpose of my digital story, to inform and share with my community that I’ve developed in more ways becoming an active global citizen apart of the global community. For that reason, my story aims to focus on my exuberant gratitude that I’ve been able to embrace and recognize since being here. Though I am not sure in which light I want to portray this yet, whether through the various stories and people I’ve met along the way that teach me to appreciate every aspect of life or through the places I’ve traveled to. Regardless,  three of the “twenty elements in rites of passage” that I find enhance my story and my mentality since being here include silence, adversity/personal challenge and stories/myths/legends.

In my opinion I’ve found a lot of comfort in silence in the past few months. Silence in my opinion is a way to regroup, listen, and take everything in. This element I think affects my rites of passage as it has allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for my surroundings. Not only have I learned that it is more than ok to have time alone, explore alone and reflect alone. Though what I aim to focus on in my story is the appreciation I’ve developed for new people and places, sometimes being in silence and taking the time to listen makes all the difference. Secondly, adversity and personal challenge have been something that I knew I was going to encounter since day one. I chose to go to a non-traditional study abroad location, not knowing the language or a single soul. This was unlike anything I’ve ever committed to before making it already a big leap in my growth. It was mentioned in the article that “Experiences that challenge the individual emotionally and/or physically and present opportunities to learn new values and/or skills”. While I may have no learned entirely new skills, I have certainly enhanced mine. Having a greater appreciation for my parents, friends and individuals around me that I may never be privileged of knowing their full story. With that, stories are the third most important element that enhance my story. Learning from others and adapting to the new information I have has increased my sense of awareness. This increased sense of awareness I think aids in my journey, that I am apart of a new culture and that sometimes things are different than what I am used to. Change is inevitable, but being able to react positively through the community around me and stories I’ve heard makes it easier.

The digital Story I found most connected to was Michael’s from Lugano Switzerland. Not only did he also go to a less heard of study abroad location, but he really got a handle on the sense of global community through his local community. I want to focus my story on the appreciation I have for my communities—back home and the new ones I’ve formed here. It is evident of this students personal development as he finds a place for himself in the global community and how he can look to help this wider community.

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