Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” Jim Webb; Perugia, Italy


There are many coming of age ceremonies that usher young people into adult hood.  Spanish descendants often have a quinceanera to mark coming of age and the Jewish coming of age Bar and Bat Mitzvah.  However traditional Americans with no real ties to their heritage don’t have any ceremonies like this.  The absence of which isn’t truly noticed unless one lives in a community of people that do have them.  The way I look at it a quinceanera is a little out of the ordinary but having no ceremony is completely normal.  As an American with no coming of age traditions I can say that the most similar thing we have is getting your drivers license or turning twenty-one.  A drivers’ license is a step towards freedom and independence and turning twenty-one is the age where you are legally permitted to drink and it is very much glorified.  Turning twenty-one isn’t so much as a coming of age as it is a ceremony of over consumption of alcohol.  I believe that when turning twenty-one you are becoming further from maturity and adulthood and kind of reverting back to your childhood immaturity.  The other ceremony is getting your drivers license; this challenge helps usher children into the world of adulthood.  It brings forth new rules and responsibilities that make you behave more like an adult and it gives you more freedom in the sense that you are less reliant on people driving you to different places.  Other than these two ceremonies I do not believe the US has any other tradition ceremonies that signify a coming of age.  As a melting pot of different cultures people in the United States have maybe more exposure to the different coming of age ceremonies but less knowledge them.  However in a primarily jewish culture I would assume everyone knowns about bar and bat mitzvahs and has a much more in depth knowledge of them.  I never had a traditional coming of age ceremony but I think the closest thing I did have was when my parents let me and my friends go to my Uncle’s log cabin for a week without any parental supervision.  I drove about three hours north of home with five of my friends and had a great weekend.  It was a very freeing experience and one that I hadn’t had before, my parents and my uncle had faith that i wouldn’t burn the cabin down and they treated me like an adult.

The digital story that I liked the best was by Rachael Cox – Paris, Spring 2014.  This video really spoke to me because it used a similar metaphor to what I was planning on using.  Talking about the tree as if it were representative of you and its transformation from winter to spring was really well done.  I defiantly want to do something similarly with my digital story.  I however want to explore the idea that all of the new leaves on “my branches” are related to a specific memory of what happened to me while abroad.  She speaks about how when she arrived in Paris she was like a tree in winter, almost bare with just the wooden structure and as spring came her leaves began to sprout.  Rachael says she could not see the physical transformation within herself but she new she was blossoming and growing with every interaction that was occurring within her daily life in Paris.  Three values of the twenty elements of rites of passage that Racheal touched upon were a connection with nature, relationships, and time alone for reflection.  Her digital story was very representative of her time and experiences abroad.


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