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.

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