When you plant a seed, you cannot simply expect it to grow into a well nourished, flourishing tree. Seeds need the nutrients of soil, the assistance of water, the support of the earth, and the attention of the sun. Only then, will their growth be successful and can they develop into a tree with substantial roots and the ability to branch out in different directions. Children are a lot like seeds in this respect. Without proper love, nourishment, assistance, support, recognition, and attention from family and the community, they will not progress into well-developed adults, and therefore will not be able to live life to their fullest potential due to a lack of firmly planted roots.
The “Rites of Passage as a Framework for Community Interventions with Youth” article speaks about the importance of support and recognition from a child’s community that assists him or her in a healthy transition into adulthood. It states, “When the community creates and enacts a rite of passage story for their children, they are really creating a way to remember what the important ingredients are for a healthy psychological sense of community essential for positive youth development. Knowing who we are at a deep and meaningful level cannot happen unless we come to know ourselves within the context of nature and the environment.” (Blumenkrantz, 47) The article then goes on to explain how having a strong sense of where you come from builds a foundation for your values and ethics and greatly influences how you live your life and therefore where you go in the future.
When there is a lack of recognition and support from a community, it comes out in the unhealthy experimentation of teens with drugs, alcohol, sex, and more. If I had to choose the most relevant example of this that I have seen in my life I would say it is most evident in child celebrities who make their transition into adulthood under the spotlight. Teens such as Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber became famous in their younger years as childhood entertainers. However as they grew older, a lot of the community failed to recognize their maturation, which led to their need to prove themselves to the world. They sought the attention of the public in unhealthy and embarrassing ways, leading to behaviors such as driving under the influence, partaking in graphic sexual videos, abusing drugs, getting arrested, committing robbery, and just acting out in general.
After seeing things like this firsthand I would definitely say that community-based rituals are a critical aspect of healthy development of the global community. Without these rituals, we see attention-craving teens like Justin and Miley who contribute more harm than good to the community. Everyone deserves to have their transitions validated because doing so contributes to the health and well being of not only the individuals, but also the people around them. The better-developed adults there are in the world with credible values and ethics, the more successful, prosperous, and well off the global community will be.
Three elements of rites of passage that I feel best relate to my experiences are adversity or personal challenge, time alone for reflection, and giving away one’s previous attitudes and behaviors. Personal challenge is probably the most important because this entire trip has been full of challenges. Even deciding to study aboard was a challenge within itself. Not all of them have been good or bad, but each has taught me a lesson that can’t be learned in a classroom. The experiences I’ve had while abroad have given me new perspectives, altered my opinions, and made me grow in ways I never have before. Speaking of growing, I have given away many previous attitudes and behaviors due to my development and maturation over the past several months. I feel that I am less of a kid now and more of an adult. I no longer tell mommy about all my problems, and when things get difficult I figure out how to fix them on my own. I have dropped many security blankets that I have carried all my life, which has made me a stronger and more independent individual. Finally, I wouldn’t really appreciate any of these changes if I didn’t take the time to reflect on what I have learned. Journaling and spending time on my own, as well as writing and reading travel logs, has given me the chance to internalize the changes that I am going through and better understand them by relating to other students in similar situations. I have seen countless amounts of breathtaking sights while traveling these past few months, but I never expected that one of the most incredible things I’d see would be within myself.
I connected the most with Rachel’s digital story because I too was very shy and unsure of myself when I arrived here in Spain. The language barrier was a big challenge for me and although I knew more Spanish than many of my communitas, I still felt like an outsider and was afraid to mess up and stand out. I liked how she used the trees and the weather as a metaphor for her personal transformation. While watching, I could really relate to her growth and understand how she was changing as a person as time went on. I felt as if I got the gist of her semester-long travels in only a few short minutes. The order of her images, the music, and the speed of the video all corresponded very well with the mood of the story and progression of her development.