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.