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.