Looking back on the past few months there has been a lot to do for this adventure I am about to embark on and while there have been a number of people and things helping along the way one of the most helpful so far has been the workshops last semester. At the time I had the thought that these workshops wouldn’t actually help me much and would just be an event that I had to sit through to take this class and go abroad. I was, however, wrong because it was more than just a boring workshop, it helped solidify to myself the fact that fairly soon I will be leaving this country and embarking to a new nation.
The workshops brought up a good amount of ideas I hadn’t thought about before, mainly the idea of the Rite of Passage as a whole. I had never once thought about my semester abroad as anything beyond going to another country to learn and have fun. However, since the workshops, I can’t help but think how my life might be affected by this experience. I will be heading to china in a little less than two weeks and while I still will have some connection to my home and to Quinnipiac I will largely be alone in a country that is very different from what I am used to. This new nation will have a lot to teach me and impact me and while I can try to predict how it will change me the way the Rite of Passage works I will be unable to tell before it has begun. One particular part of the Rite of Passage that I would not have thought of before learning more about it is how it is not an easy experience. The workshop talked a lot about how some people, whether students studying abroad or someone experiencing a totally different rite of passage, fail at some stage and never manage to finish the rite. While it is not the best subject to focus on failure is always a very real and scary possibility, and while I believe I will manage to make it though it will not be easy. This adventure is not only my first experience in a nation where there is a large cultural and language barrier but it is also my first ever experience outside of the United States. The workshops, however, didn’t only teach me that there are failures, it also taught me that I am not alone and this fear of failure is not unique to me. The others in this class and studying abroad are all experiencing the same fear whether they realize it or not and that it is in these fellow people within my communitas are people I can turn to if I need to and help me make it through this rite of passage.
In the introduction to Becoming World Wise by Richard Slimbach, he mentions a lot of ideas that we have learned about within the workshops with respect to the Rite of Passage process. For example, towards the end of The Common Good section of the introduction Slimback states “Again, that’s what makes predeparture training and postsojourn analysis so important. Done well, both processes help us to realize the transformative potential of our journeys.” (2010, p. 10) this quote reinforces the ideas we learned about the Rite of Passage theory, that it is a transformation we can successfully go through during our experience with enough preparation and reflection can improve how we see the world. Slimbach also has stated that this book is a guide for people going through this rite of passage process. “This text will assist anyone who is intent on having his or her whole being – body, mind, and heart – stretched through the intercultural experience but who perhaps is unsure about how to prepare for it or fully benefit from it.” (2010, p. 6) in this quote, he is stating an important aspect of the rite of passage process which is having mentors to help you along through the luminary stage. Slimbach is saying that his book and by extension himself can be used a mentor or guide to ensure that you do not find yourself lost in the luminary stage and fail your rite of passage. Mentorship was stressed throughout the workshops as an important aspect and that your mentors help shape and push you in the right direction during the process.
For my travelogue, I chose to use the book Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present by Peter Hessler. The main reason I have chosen this book is because not only does Peter Hessler goes around China and explore the similarities and difference between modern china and the United States but he also compares modern China, and the sites he visits, to ancient China and how much life has changed within the oldest nation on earth. This really interests me because I have a huge love of history and being able to connect that love of history to my semester abroad enrich my experience even more.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling: Stylus Publishing, 2010. Print.
Hessler, Peter. Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Print.