Travel Log #13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By Madeleine Harder. Zagreb, Croatia

Blumenkrantz and Goldstein argue that there is a lack of meaningful, community based rituals in the United States and that this is detrimental to American society. They draw on examples such as drinking, voting, and driving because many see these as age markers for the transition into adulthood. The problem is these benchmarks are pre-set; you don’t have to earn anything to partake in these activities. It is a blurry line to cross into adulthood and with the absence of community-based rites of passage, children will turn to other outlets to assist them in this transition. For example they could turn to the media or their peers. This is dangerous because sometimes these “rites of passage” are harmful to the community and the individual. Examples could include binge drinking, drug use, or teen pregnancy.

The authors are arguing an interesting point here. When I think of adulthood, these pre-set age markers are what I equate with the full transition into adulthood. In America, when a citizen turns 21 they have the right to drink but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have earned that right. The idea behind the regulation is that people will have matured enough to know how to handle the responsibility but again there is no way of knowing everyone will be ready for that responsibility by a certain age. This is where things get tricky because there is no test to determine whether you are ready to consume alcohol. Driving a car is a different issue because that is a skill. Even with the 21 years old age limit set in place, children may begin drinking much younger than that and I know plenty of people that have.

There was a student in my brother’s grade who began using drugs very young and went far beyond the experimental stage. He became addicted to hard-core drugs and left before finishing his first year of high school. People often wonder what ended up happening to this student as no one has heard from him in a couple of years now. The student was very bright but needed something that was not quite being fulfilled. One could argue that the lack of meaningful, community-based rites of passage are what led him to the drug use in the first place. However, past that some people react very strongly to drugs and it could be his genetic makeup that got him on the path of dependency.

Blumenkrantz and Goldstein developed 20 elements of a proper rite of passage. The three elements that will be enhanced by my digital story are #5 #8 and #18. The fifth element that the authors present is “it must happen in the home community.” As study abroad students we have a new home community, which is heavily tied into a new geographic location. One of the purposes of our digital story is to show the world what our new home community has taught us. I am studying in Belgium and not many Americans have a thorough knowledge of the culture so one purpose of my digital story will be to educate. The eighth element presented in the list of 20 is “adversity or personal challenge.” Living in an entirely new community, we have all encountered adversity and personal challenge. The personal challenge that I am tackling right now is academics. At my university in Brussels the academics are very challenging. I walk a fine line between devoting the proper amount of time to my studies while exploring Belgium and beyond. The last element that will be enhanced by my digital story is “changes of appearance that express/ reflect new status.” When I studied abroad in Berlin, GE the very first trip I took was to Copenhagen. I had some Kronor left at the end of the trip and adopted this as a token of my study abroad experience. The Kronor has a hole in the middle of the coin and I turned this into a necklace. Everyday I am reminded that adventures are out there and to always keep moving. I’ve been thinking long and hard about what physical object I want to bring back with me from Belgium and I still have no idea. It might be interesting to use this as a theme for my digital story because this experience has been so many things that I cannot boil it down into one physical object.

Viewing examples of previous students digital stories was very helpful to me and I especially liked the one from the student who studied in Paris, France. I am also studying in a French speaking country so I related to the hesitancy to speak a foreign language at first. I liked the continuation of a single metaphor throughout the entire video and thought that was the element that made it so successful.

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2 thoughts on “Travel Log #13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By Madeleine Harder. Zagreb, Croatia

  1. I like how you mentioned how there is no test to determine whether you are ready to consume alcohol. It is very sad that the student in your brothers grade became addicted to drugs at such a young age. It does make me wonder if that is due to no age or test being chosen to see if they are ready to handle certain responsibilities and are instead left in question which may lead them to other outlets, like drugs, to see and test what they can handle.

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  2. I really enjoyed your example of drinking, because I think as students that is a situation we can really relate to. I don’t know many people who would consider themselves to “earn” the right to drink once they turn 21. I feel like most people our age see it as an expectation. I think that we go through the rites of passage experience, but we don’t emphasize the importance of those milestones.

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