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.