Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Story Telling” by JonCarlo DeFeudis. Seville, Spain.

As this week is the special time of year we celebrate Thanksgiving back home, I would like to take a moment to jot down my thoughts, as it is my first time away from my family for the holiday. Maybe some will relate with me, for it’s been a time for me to pause and reflect with earnest thoughts on the loved ones in my life. In light that Thanksgiving is a day to ponder the past months and get together with the whole family, I’ve done my best to communicate to everyone back home my affections. Still I feel a mix of emotions, one side is being thankful for my family and friends back home supporting me while I’m here, (along with the strong urge to be physically back in the states with everybody). On the contrary, I am present with myself in Seville and feel utterly content to be surrounded by all my friends (communitas) and my mentors that I’ve met, and made dear acquaintances with.  My silver lining in this conundrum, is that being away from home is a darn tough thing to deal with during the holidays, but when I really dig down I’ve grasped that my family around has doubled in a sense of all the new special people in my life which I’ve met this semester, (River Beers Boys, Rosas’s Residencia, my UPO classmates, and many many others). With that in mind, it’s like I get to have two Thanksgiving this year! Not a bad deal if you think about it. Special thanks to the API program, which has enlisted a local restaurant to setup a Thanksgiving feast Thursday night for our whole program. It will be a night to remember as we begin to take in our last weeks in our second home, Seville.

David G. Blumenkrantz & Marc B. Goldstein wrote an article, Rites of Passage as a Framework for Community Interventions with Youth in the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice in 2010 on the Rite of Passage theory. The article brings to the surface the many aspects of Rites of Passage in contemporary American communities and questions whether there is strong enough presence in our communities today. In the opening statement the argument is posed as,

“The lack of clearly established rites of passage in America is partly due to the ambiguity about when and how one becomes an adult in contemporary society (Arnett, 2000, 2004) […] In the absence of meaningful community-based rituals, youth will define and create their own marker events based on peer or media values, many of which may be destructive both individually and communally” (Blumenkrantz & Goldstein, 43).

Contrary to the previous statement, I believe that the communities I am a part of in America do an exemplary job of bringing up children and giving them opportunities to take on challenges and make life transitions into adulthood. One such example is the Boy Scouts of America, which I was a part of in my home town. This organization allowed me to grown and take on challenges of learning as well as trips away from home to experience change as a young adult. Although in gaging other’s stories of where they grew up, I’ve realized there are certainly places that do not effectively support the children to grow up with enrichening and structuring rituals, just as Blumenkrantz & Goldstein allude to.  One point which I found most relatable, was when Blumenkrantz & Goldstein brought up the aspect of adversity in the Rites of Passage theory, they define adversity as, “Experiences that challenge the individual emotionally and/or physically and which present opportunities to learn new values and/or skills” (Blumenkrantz & Goldstein, 44). For me growing up, adversity was plentiful, and even if I met failure I never failed to gain a valuable lesson. Because of all the challenges I went through (and I’m still here today happily looking back), I believe adversity is one of the most important factors in growing into an adult. There is nothing more revolutionary than adversity, it has the power to cause great change in individuals. I was lucky to have hard times as when I was younger and even more so lucky that I was able to find a way through my past ordeals. In this sense, I believe present day American communities are beginning to become too soft and are constantly looking for ways to protect the children in the community, instead of allowing naturally the challenges to occur. If kids are continuously protected from the realities of life how will they grow and make smart decisions. Often in communities, kids are spoiled and are given instant gratifications instead of learning how to earn something or by the virtue of patience. It is important to understand without these vital paradigm shifts, children will grow to be incompetent adults that cannot handle responsibility. In terms of the Global Community, as the trend of technology plays an increasingly larger role in children’s youth, I feel that there may be a drop in proper and meaningful rites of passages and thus a drop in the competence of young adults. Too often children are missing out on vital parts of childhood as they are smothered with the internet and tv. I still have hope though.

As I think about my upcoming digital story process, two other rites of passage elements mentioned by Blumenkrantz and Goldstein (I’ve already discussed adversity) are important in my opinion. Firstly, I believe the element of play is crucial. Play is described as moments for individuals to find their passion in activities. Growing up the opportunity to try sports, arts, and learn can create a most beautiful result, one may find his or her craft or hobby which they find passion in. For me that was basketball. Basketball allowed me a space to be myself and get away from the stresses in life. The other element I found to paramount are opportunities to demonstrate new skills. Here is the opportunity for acknowledgment which is a fundamental desire of humans. We want to appreciate and loved, and by having the opportunity to demonstrate ourselves we can gain that recognition we crave.

The purpose of creating a digital story is to show others what I’ve truly learned from my time here so they can relate to me when I go back to my home community and satisfy that acknowledgement of change that is vital to the returning phase in a Rite of Passage.

I enjoyed Michael Colton’s digital story on his semester abroad in Switzerland because I felt he was very inclusive about all the parts of going through a rite of passage but at the same time very succinct and straight to the point. His story telling of his experience was easy for me to connect with him as he had a mixture of pictures of himself and what was around him. Plus, his simple video touches and pictures were fantastic. He also had a very calm demeanor in his speech which really helped the delivery. I look to emulate his digital story telling skills as I make mine in the next couple weeks.

Blumenkrantz, D. G., Goldstein, M. B. (2010). Rites of Passage as Framework for
Community Interventions with Youth. Global Journal for Community Psychology Practice. 1 (2), 41-50.

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Travel Log 13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Story Telling” by Micaela Buttner. Gold Coast, Australia

A true rites of passage has become more difficult to achieve in America due to our societies lack of community-based rituals in regards to life transitions. Being an abroad student for almost three months now, I have viewed my experience in a way I never thought I would. I allowed myself to separate from home, to then transition by detaching myself from technology, but I still need this process affirmed by family when I return home that I have gone through this and that I have changed. Then, I can finally be incorporated into the global community. In the article, Blumenkrantz and Goldstein said, “In the absence of meaningful community-based rituals, youth will define and create their own marker events based on peer or media values, many of which may be destructive both individually and communally.” They are arguing that if the structure of the rites of passage is not properly followed, then the life transition cannot be completed. In regards to study abroad, the lack of community-based rituals does present a problem for the healthy development of the Global Community. This course has given me the proper structure for my family and I to follow to ensure I successfully have my rites of passage. Others who do not take this course lack the experience and viewpoints that I have and in the end will not receive a community-based ritual for this huge life transition abroad.

After considering the purpose of a digital story, I have concluded that it’s meant to serve as a way to tell my personal growth from before leaving home till when I return through my experiences and the people I met. Its purpose is to show my family and friends in a meaningful way what I actually went through and thought while being abroad, not just the fun and exciting things I did, but also how they changed me.

Many of the elements of rites of passage that are mentioned in the text can be enhanced by the development of a digital story. Three in particular are “adversity or personal challenge”, “time alone for reflection”, and “play”.

The first element pertaining to adversity or personal challenge can efficiently be shown in a digital story because it can be told through an experience the storyteller had. So for me personally, I could use this to share how I was faced with a challenge, how I overcame it, and then how I grew and learned from that experience. Being abroad is not a walk in the park. Being as unlucky as I am, I have had my fair share of misfortunes. Each time, I just have to learn from it, grow and move on.

The second element, “time alone for reflection”, is essential in a digital story. This is when I can personally reflect on how I am feeling during each step or situation of my study abroad experience. By using this element in the digital story, it allows me to become in tune with my new found beliefs and values that I gained or have changed while being abroad. When I return home, some people may think I seem different. It does not mean I am different in a bad way, it just means I have a new outlook on certain aspects of life due to things I have been exposed to. Reflecting has allowed me to become more aware of these thoughts.

The third element, “play”, is one that I find extremely important. I believe the whole point of studying abroad is to experience things that make you the happiest you have ever been. After three months of being in Australia, I can confidently say I have experienced the best days of my life here. Never have I had such thrill, excitement and pure happiness anywhere else compared to how I have in Australia. I would not be the person I am in this moment if I did not experience the things I have during my time abroad. My digital story project will definitely allow me to enhance this element of rites of passage.

I enjoyed Rachel’s digital story about her time in Paris. I thought she was very clear in explaining her transformation by relating back to the blossoming trees. I as well have quite a similar experience with my time abroad in Australia. As I check off each item on my bucket list, I grow a little bit more and become the person who I am now. Rachel did an excellent job and it was very clever.

 

Works Cited

Blumenkrantz, D. G., Goldstein, M. B. (2010). Rites of Passage as Framework for
Community Interventions with Youth. Global Journal for Community Psychology Practice. 1 (2), 41-50.

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Story Telling” by Casey Keohan. Gold Coast, Australia

As we continue to build our society around technology and innovation, our cultures adapt accordingly. Unfortunately for American culture, this means the occurrence of true Rites of Passage has drastically decreased. We are constantly connected to everyone and everything, making a true separation nearly impossible. Additionally, technology has provided an escape from the awkward situations that are present in liminality. Why interact with strangers on the bus when you can stick your ear buds in and scroll through instagram? Blumenkrantz and Goldstein argue that the lack of Rites of Passage in American society contribute to many of the dangerous behaviors that adolescents engage in. This makes complete sense, as there is no true marker of adulthood in our society so teens often take it upon themselves to prove their transition. Laws suggest that 18 marks adulthood, as it is when we can go to war, vote, and drive without restrictions. Yet Americans cannot purchase alcohol until they are 21, and many communities have risen the smoking age to 21 as well. Rental cars often require drivers to be older, around 25 depending on the company. It is easy to see why we are so confused where we stand in the years between 18 and 25. If American culture had the rituals to welcome members into adulthood that many other cultures did, the experience would be much less confusing.

The global community is also noticing a decrease in these Rites of Passage as many cultures become more westernized. Technology is creating a revolution globally, and as a result creating a change in cultural practices. According to Blumenkrantz and Goldstein: “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” (43). It seems as if many cultures are doing away with these transformative events, which once assisted in shaping the future generations of the culture. I find this to be a tragic loss, because these events not only helped members of the community find themselves, but also provided a concrete date of adult status.

In Australia, the law considers everyone an adult at the age of 18. This has been an interesting experience for me, because I have transitioned into a world of living independently. Everyone here treats me like an adult, meaning they also expect me to act as one. I will return to Quinnipiac to live in a dorm again with a meal plan and an RA/CA, living in my parents’ house during breaks. For another semester, it will probably feel like reverting back into a life of dependence/childhood. I am totally expecting to experience a little bit of culture shock come December.

From the “20 elements of rites of passage”, I connected most with 14-play, 15-Giving away one’s previous attitudes, behaviors, etc., and 19-opportunitites to demonstrate new competencies and status. My experiences here have certainly given me the opportunity to find my “bliss”, whether it is skydiving, hiking, or snorkeling. I have also learned to go with the flow a lot more—something I set as a goal before the semester started. This is a quality I hope I will take back to my home community, as I am often too type-A for my own good. In developing a digital story, I will be forced to take the time to reflect on these three elements, and many others, to thoroughly analyze the experiences I have had and the lessons I have learned in the past three months. Through my digital story, I will hopefully be able to display the experiences and places that I have found that have put me completely at peace, and genuinely happy at the same time. I will be able to depict the stereotypes, attitudes, and behaviors that I once held which will be forever changed. And I will be able to use this new outlook on life to enter back into my home community in the US to be a better member of my local, national, and global community. Using these elements, I hope to create a digital story that depicts the things I have learned outside the classroom this semester, rather than just displaying all the touristy scenes I have photographed.

I really liked Rachel’s digital story because it expressed the main lessons of her whole experience through the story of one relationship she formed with her neighbor. She was concise in narrowing down her semester in this manner, and used the relationship to depict her development as a person during her time in Paris. Her story drew me in, and made me want to hear more about her life-changing experiences. I loved that such a meaningful relationship developed across cultural borders stemming from something as simple as a flower.

 

Travelogue 13 “Connecting Rites of Passages and Digital Storytelling”, by Dejanay Richardson. Barcelona, Spain.

At the start of the course, I did not know how much of a growth experience going on a Rites of Passage would be. The Rites of Passage experience is more than just a ceremonial experience it is a living and learning experience. As I have spent the last several months in Barcelona, I have found the entire adventure as a Rites of Passage. As a an only child back at home, I had never had been given the freedom or the chance to have an experience that made me think, reflect, relate to, and ask so many questions. This because in the United States, there aren’t that many ceremonial Rites of Passage that transforms us on a deeper level. Being here in Barcelona gave me a chance to experience the Rites of Passage from the anxious separation phase to the highly anticipated incorporation phase I will have. Although there are three important parts I deeply experienced in Barcelona that are a part of the Rites of Passage.

VI. Rites of passage create expectations for socially acceptable behaviors.

At the beginning of my program, there were certain rules and regulations laid down for the students. Some of the expectations that were held for me and my counterparts was to not make too much noise after ten. After ten, locals want to go to bed and relax. Most of them do stay up a little longer on the weekends, but we had to adhere to this rule. However there were certain unspoken rules I learned about when I became more integrated into the community. One unspoken rule was that eating with a group is more preferred in Spain than alone. There were many times I ate alone out of habit or because my schedule did not align with anyone else`s. Because of this, I have had some stares or concerned looks given towards me because of my loneliness. The Spaniards and Europeans perceived this as very unhealthy and not connecting with the relationships you have built.

XII. Time alone for reflection

I allowed myself time to reflect on certain aspects at home or my personal life. I find that it was more opportune and available to me to reflect here than at home because of this cultural disconnect that we don’t have in the U.S. As David Blumenkrantz and Marc Goldstein suggests is that The Rites of Passages helps us to fill purpose with the specific roles in our lives. Without these roles we are misguided because “The lack of clearly established rites of passage in America is partly due to the ambiguity about when and how one becomes an adult in contemporary society (Arnett, 2000, 2004). The ages at which youth receive certain adult privileges (e.g., right to drive, right to vote, right to drink, etc.) are rather arbitrary and are not related to any actual competencies or maturity on the part of the individuals who gain those privileges” (2).  Young people need a guide from their community to communicate their various transitions that should mark experiential growth and lessons.

VIII. Adversity or personal challenge

My personal challenge while being abroad to come to a sense of exiting the liminal stage. It was not until later in the semester I realized that I was using this experience to learn and find out more about myself. Yet the more I tried to find myself the more I felt trying to be a part of both cultures. In the States I have noticed that we cannot stand silence or too much quiet time, but in actuality it helps to give more clarity to the situation. As Blumenkrantz states ” Creating opportunities for silence  and to spend time alone— the ninth and tenth elements—help a young person develop an internal dialogue for narrating and making sense of what is going on around them. It affords them a place to contemplate and consider the great complexities of the world and how they fit within it” (6). In Spain, many people resonate in silence if they are not with their close ones. Other religions and cultures also treasure silence as a way to meditate on one`s self or issues. Sometimes, all you need is some silence or a moment to pause in order to get through a tough situation.Even as my study abroad journey ends, my life will continue to be a rites of passage. I can do this by starting my own tradition with my kids to show them lessons that will help them grow.

I want to say that Michael Roberts’ in Mongolia was the digital story I most connected too.  On a simply visual level I much preferred the use of videos over the slideshow of pictures.  Michael’s experience showed me that even in a far away distance you can still serve your world in a big way just by traveling abroad. You bring clarity and information back to the home land for your family to learn about. I am excited to do my digital storytelling.

 

 

 

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Chase Chiga. Shanghai, China.

Rite of passage can be an important milestone in the lives of many people throughout the world. In the paper by Blumenkrantz and Goldstein, they talk about how most Americans do not experience rights of passages especially during the transition from child to adult. In my personal experience, however, I do not believe this is necessarily true. While I do agree with what they are saying with “The lack of clearly established rites of passage in America is partly due to the ambiguity about when and how one becomes an adult in contemporary society” (Blumenkrantz, page 43) I still argue that these rites of passages exist in American society just not as built up as in other cultures. For example, a big one that everyone in this program has experienced in one way or another is heading to college. I know for me this was a big deal in my family. While it wasn’t a big community celebration or anything like that it was followed the steps of a rite of passage from a kid to adult. I was preparing to finally leave home and head across the country to start a new life. It honestly is tough to say if the absence of a true rite of passage would be a hindrance to the development of a global community. I mean it is hard to see a truly global community last without these bringing it together but communities like America do show that they are sometimes unnecessary.
One key point for within the rite of passage that I will focus on is Program success relies on Relationships. I feel like this is central to my rite of passage and experience due to the impact building new relationships have on my life over here. Developing friendships are super important in thriving abroad in shanghai. If you avoid creating friendships with the locals you will not experience china and learn from it. Friends are able to guide you through your rite of passage and lead you to success. The second important aspect I feel I need to address in my digital story is Time Alone for Reflection. This is important for truly learning from your experience. These opportunities allow me to take in the lessons I have learned and gain more from them improving my rite of passage and time as a whole. Lastly, an important key point is Giving Away One’s Previous Attitudes, Behaviors, etc. this step is very important for adjusting to a new community. The lack of the ability to complete this leads to issues when adjusting to the new community to the point that you are unable to actually complete the transition and fail in the rite of passage. I was able to give away some of my previous attitudes about my host nation and it has let me grow better as a person within it.

Travel Log 13, “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Mike Raimondo, Florence, Italy.

Our working definition of a “Rite of Passage” has since changed from the days in which children would become adults via various rituals throughout different cultures. Ancient boys would become men when they entered the ranks of their respective military. Young girls centuries ago would not be considered women until they had birthed children. In other civilizations, children would go through formal rituals or celebrations to mark the coming of age. The idea of a Quincenera, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and other cultural celerations were once the formal initiations of adulthood. In our modern society, we see this idea of a “rite of passage” shift into a more informal mark. The authors Blumenkrantz and Goldstein cite the definition as, “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” (Blumenkrantz, 1996, p. 21). I found this definition to be exemplary of what we see in our culture as Americans. Rather than a formal coming of age moment, we mark the transition into adulthood with the age in which you now can indulge in “adult privileges.” Drinking, driving, voting, and other pleasures of being an adult are key moments in which a child transitions into adulthood.

The authors also define rites of passage as moments of separation, liminality and incorporation. As a study abroad student, I feel as though I better understand this idea. I am in firm belief that studying abroad was no doubt a rite of passage, in accordance with definition provided by the authors. Other then leaving for college, I have not endured much of a separation phase of life, at least not to this extent. The liminal phase of coming to Italy was a tough yet very short transition period that allowed me to grow as an individual, develop independence and ultimately incorporate myself into another culture.

Digital storytelling is a form of expression that will help be dictate my emotion on this journey. The three values I found to be the most compelling from the list of twenty were; play, time alone for reflection, and community values and ethics. I believe these will be primary themes of my digital story because they are key factors that have played roles in my time abroad.  I learned the importance of indulging in the pleasures of Italian culture without incorporating my American habits. In addition, I would like to express my newly acquired understanding for the importance for reflection and values/ethics. These two values from the list are crucial in the incorporation phase of our rite of passage.

I plan to create my digital story similar to Ms. Obierika who also studied in Florence. Her digital slideshow was the most relatable since I am currently studying in the same city. What I would like to do differently is to structure my digital story to outline all three phases of the rite of passage. I want to first go through my mindset separating, then the developments I made as a liminal, and then finish the video by outlining my strengths, weaknesses and improvements I have made abroad. I believe by doing so I will be able to create a digital story that will implement the three most important values to me, and will express the worth of the abroad experience.

“Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Rachel Marino. Florence, Italy

Blumenkrantz and Goldstein discuss how America significantly lacks a traditional rite of passage that many other cultures have.  They attribute this in part to the lack of a significant age deeming someone an adult.  In discussing the definition of a rite of passage, they refer to Quinceaneras, Bat Mitzvahs and Bar Mitzvahs as an example.  They also refer to other moments which do not serve as rites of passage but as moments with meaning.  Many American’s share moments with meaning through a birthday, learning to drive, being able to vote, and turning 21.  The difference between the two is simple.  Rites of passage require more time in that one must go through three phases” separation, transition (liminality), and incorporation.  This distinction is what makes study abroad a suitable opportunity for a rite of passage.

Number Eight: Adversity or Personal Challenge, is the first element of rites of passage that I chose.  I chose this because I think it most reflects my study abroad journey.  I didn’t have almost any constants from home throughout studying abroad.  The last time I had been to Italy was when I was eleven when I came with my mom, brother, all my cousins, the whole family so I saw Italy but I didn’t internalize Italy, I was surrounded by my warm, loving bubble.  But this time no family, no friends, no one I knew from home.  Little things felt like they were taken away, simple things like driving has become something I miss, it’s harder to find me time, to just get away.  I don’t have a safe place here and if I just really need to feel that warmth of home one day, well it’s still a month away.  I have gotten lost in Germany all alone, with no phone and no knowledge of the German language, I have traveled by myself to Austria and Rome and I managed to visit five cities in four countries eight days.  I started standing in line in Logan airport with Mickey Mouse popping his head out of the top of my backpack and now I am in the homestretch and although it is not over and although I certainly have not completed the rite of passage process yet, there is a difference in me that will take the conclusion of the rite of passage, incorporation, for me to put my finger on it.

Number Thirteen: Connection with Ancestral Roots has been a very strong part of my development.  I have visited eight countries but there is a connection that I feel in Italy that I haven’t, and don’t think I could ever feel anywhere else.  My mom is first generation and I am, like all Italians, extremely close with my grandparents so my Italian roots have never been far away.  Perhaps what has been most helpful to me was learning the language much better than I knew it before.  This opens so many doors of communication and through these I have discovered so many family members who love me like they knew me for my whole life and this is irreplaceable.

Finally, Number Ten: Stories, Myths or Legends.  This goes hand in hand with my connection to my roots.  As previously stated, I am close with my grandparents and they helped raise me, I went to my grandparents’ house everyday with my brother and cousins from birth until the time I was probably nine years old.  Throughout this time my grandma taught me things like how to cook and encouraged my youth, which is something she and my grandfather were not as lucky to have.  They both moved to America when they were very young and through the stories I heard about their journeys I learned valuable lessons but mostly I learned to appreciate and enjoy life no matter the circumstances.  This lesson has taken on new meaning through my time in Italy.

The digital story that I most connected with was Michael Roberts’ in Mongolia.  On a simply visual level I much preferred the use of videos over the slideshow of pictures.  I felt like his video had a much more positive vibe than the other videos and it seemed as if he had learned the most through his experience.  Michael’s experience taught him so much about himself that he would never have learned otherwise, but it also taught him about the world and showed him his role in the global community.  For myself, I think that creating a voiceover of my own voice for this video will be difficult because I’ve never done anything like that before and it will definitely be a step out of my comfort zone.

Blumenkrantz, D. G., Goldstein, M.B. (2010). Rites of Passage as Framework for Community Interventions with Youth. Global Journal for Community Psychology Practice. 1 (2), 41-50.

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Story Telling” by Katheryn DeMarey. Florence, Italy

In approximately three weeks I will find myself looking back on the past 4 months that I have spent here in Italy. Looking at the growth in myself from then and now…besides the physical effects of the large amounts of pasta… I am amazed with how comfortable I have become with not only my surroundings, but the person who I have become.

I always felt like rites of passages just happen. There’s no planning, no anticipation, no set in stone framework – but while reading the journal article by Blumenkrantz, I realized that maybe these views are unhealthy, and maybe these views are strictly because in America, there isn’t a lot of community-based rituals within our life transitions. As Blumenkrantz stated, “In the absence of meaningful community-based rituals, youth will define and create their own marker events based on peer or media values, many of which may be destructive both individually and communally. Indeed, this is how binge drinking, drug use, teen pregnancy and other similar behaviors have become elevated to rites of passage reflecting adult status, e.g” (43). This line was particularly powerful to me because it really helped me engage with the text and understand where the author was coming from. I have always been very mature for my age so I never saw this as a major problem but looking at my peers and the youth of America, I can completely understand how these community based rituals would be very beneficial to help steer our youth in the right direction. The authors throughout the paper are making the argument that the younger generations feel as though they need to have concrete evidence of their transformations, and without this, they turn to other outlets such as social media to seek approval. Looking at this on a global scale, community based rituals are very important because if all the youth of the world turned to nonconstructive models to help them get through their rites of passages, older generations would have their hands full.

The three elements of rites of passage that I connected with the most are ‘time alone for reflection’, ‘play’ and ‘adversity or personality challenge’. ‘Time alone for reflection’ not only opens up my eyes to a new world, but it also helps me make sense of what has been going on around me. Being able to walk the streets of Florence by myself has made me realize the strides I have taken in the past few months. I have found refection to be very crucial to my success abroad because as the days fly by quickly, I find myself more and more upset knowing that my return is right around the corner. Not only does reflection help me cope with the constant changes but it also helps create a greater appreciation for everything that was been happening over the past three months. Play is also a crucial part of my abroad experience because I decided to study abroad to get away from my work routine. I am a very focused person and hate to waste time. Back in the states I was always trying to cross things off of a list, get my work done or make a few extra dollars by being ahead of the game. Studying abroad has literally taught me how to ‘stop and smell the flowers’… and for that, I am very grateful. The last element that has enhanced my rite of passage is ‘adversity or personality challenge’. This element “deepens life lessons and sears them into our lives forever” (46) all while providing us with teachable moments that are essential to our growth and development. If we weren’t faced with a challenge every single day of our study abroad experience, wouldn’t everyone study abroad? If we weren’t pushed to our limits and had our morals challenged, wouldn’t everyone study abroad? If we never faced the unknown and broke out of our shell, if we were never surrounded by people who all spoke a foreign language or if we never felt like we were completely lost without a map… wouldn’t everyone study abroad? All of these types of events test our personality and our determination to succeed. It helps us grow into well rounded individuals in our community and it helps develop our appreciation of the new culture we are now living in.

The digital story that I connected with the best was ‘Experiment in Mongolia”. The success of this digital story is credited to how the author was able to combine all the elements of music, voice-over and photo. Having a more upbeat music selection along with video clips helped keep my attention. Being able to notice this while I am still abroad has allowed me to now make an effort to take some videos of Florence and to not just focus on photos.

Blumenkrantz, D. G., Goldstein, M.B. (2010). Rites of Passage as Framework for Community Interventions with Youth. Global Journal for Community Psychology Practice. 1 (2), 41-50.

Travel Log 12: “Service” by JonCarlo DeFeudis. Sevilla, Spain.

 

This week I took part in La Brigada Nocturna, (The Night Brigade), to participate in their mission to give the homeless throughout the city food and supplies. Last Monday, it was one of the first cold evenings here in Sevilla, as the temperature dropped to a brisk 50 degrees outside. I met the group and their leader, Isabel, in the Plaza del Duque, which is right in the center of the city and she assigned me with a small contingent. I had brought some provisions of juice and muffins, but they also had plenty of food collected for us to hand out.

It’s not that Sevilla has a big problem with homeless people, but this is my first time living in a city. Seeing homeless people daily is an unfamiliar sight for me and even a bit uncomfortable. Whenever I walk by a homeless person I have the urge to give them money and smile genuinely, as I’ve heard that homeless people are truly the forgotten parts of our communities; many of them feel like less than human because they are ignored. A national geographic photographer I follow on Instagram had a stunning project last year where each day he would post a striking headshot of a homeless person in Los Angeles and recount their story. A majority of the stories left me feeling that just an extra effort of help can really make a difference in getting themselves back on the right path.

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The wonderful volunteers of La Brigada Nocturna in Sevilla

My quote that I took in before I went out was from Albert Schweitzer, “Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life and that to destroy, harm, or to hinder life is evil. Affirmation of the world — that is affirmation of the will to live, which appears in phenomenal forms all around me — is only possible for me in that I give myself out for other life”

With all of this on my mind, I went out with clear intentions and found it immensely gratifying to reach out to these down and out folk and give them a hand. Moreover, I had a band of similarly minded people behind me that wanted to help out just as much as I did. I applaud the folk who have been doing this all year round as they have inspired me to keep the people of the streets on my mind, instead of just walking by them every day.

Something I’ve come to understand while interacting with my fellow Brigada Nocturna Spaniards, that night was their sense of pride and dedication to their country. They truly love their nation and will do all they can to support it in good or bad through genuine morals. In the wake of the Presidential Election I believe this notion of pride is very important. I have noticed recently in conversation with my fellow students that we are all taken by the sense of wanting to stay here in Sevilla forever, willing leaving our home in the dust. I think it is important to understand that we students can still love our new homes, yet all the while must still remember to appreciate where we come from. After all, in our Rite of Passage, it is important for us to return home and be recognized by our family and friends as to how we have changed.

Moments I will not soon forget from volunteering to help the homeless was the smiles that elated from the hardened faces of the homeless as we did our rounds on the streets. There weren’t too many, but as we passed out juice, bread, and snacks, you could see hope arise in their faces and that meant the world to me. If we can all do our turn to help others, the world will be a better place in no time!

Travel Log 12: “Service” by Micaela Buttner. Gold Coast, Australia

In America, volunteer opportunities are readily accessible and strongly encouraged to partake in. When looking for community service organizations in Australia, it was much more difficult to find than I had imagined. Every organization either required a long-term commitment (6+ months) or required a lengthy application process in order to do service. Australia sees volunteer work as helping the community, therefore is deserving of a cash reward. This was surprising to discover, considering back home volunteer work is just something we do for free to donate our time and help. Due to the way Australia has their community service, it was extremely difficult to find an organization to volunteer for. After searching multiple websites, I finally came across an organization called BeachCare. This organization is affiliated with Griffith University, which is another university here on the Gold Coast. BeachCare “… aims to provide an opportunity for community members to participate in caring for their local coastal environments… ” (BeachCare). They do this through removing weeds and litter and replacing the trash with plants that all the volunteers personally place into the sand.

BeachCare goes up and down the Gold Coast of Australia cleaning up sand dunes to ensure healthy and clean beaches, which they consider their backyard. Being on the Gold Coast, the beach is a major part of everyone’s every day life. This part of Australia is known for its beaches, so it is important to them that it is in the best condition possible. Volunteering my time while abroad made me feel a lot more accomplished than I thought I would for just cleaning up a beach. I could see in all the other volunteers’ eager faces when we started and the proud smiles they sported at the end how much this meant to them. Volunteering my time allowed me to integrate myself more in the Global Community. I found it interesting that not a single person asked where I was from nor asked why I was in Australia. For once while being here, I felt like I was one of them. I was no longer just this 21 year old studying in Australia who sight sees at every chance she got. I was now apart of this community and was able to contribute towards something that Australians pride themselves on. I felt like I was paying my dues and saying thank you for being able to live here for the semester. Volunteering is such an important aspect of every community because it allows us to give back to others, especially those who really need it. Some people cannot afford to hire help; it is up to the community to willingly do so on their own time. This is why to have a successful global community, community service is so important because it brings everyone together to achieve a common goal. If the community comes together, then progress can be made.

During my time volunteering, the other members and I planted 70 removed 0.5kg of weeds and collected 2.3kg of litter. This service experience really just reminded me to always be thankful for the opportunities that I have. Many people see studying abroad as a vacation for four months, but it can be so much more than that if people get themselves involved with the community in which they live. Now I have a completely unique experience to look back on that the other people I am abroad with do not have.

The following quote accurately depicts my community service experience: “The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.” (Slimbach) This experience has given me the ability to form a connection with people in my surrounding neighborhoods by actively working together to better the community.

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Works Cited

BeachCare. “BeachCare.” Griffith University. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.