After the workshop, there were two main concepts that resonated with me, at least to the point where I brought up these concepts to others around me, such as my friends and family, to discuss and gain their viewpoints. One of these points was simply the word ‘liminality.’ In addition to the concept itself intriguing me, I really liked how the word sounded, and I could not help but allow it to creep around my brain and into my conversations with people outside of the class. This in-between state is something that I usually yearn for, and encourage those around me that are growing, to desire as well. Being uncomfortable, having heightened awareness, and feeling like you need to find out where you belong is not an easy state to be in, and it scares people back into a state that feels more safe, secure, or familiar. I always attributed my love for this uncomfortable feeling as my constant thirst for growth. I think that this is why I tend to find new challenges once I begin to feel comfortable again, and I know this is why I decided to study abroad.
When I am feeling that glorious mixture of nervous, scared, excitement streaming through my blood vessels, diffusing into every cell of my body and replacing the bored redundancy of the past, I know that something big is on its way. It is the way that I felt that morning of the first day of freshman year of high school, the way I felt as we drove down Mount Carmel Ave. to move in to my freshman year residential hall, and the way that I felt as I boarded my plane on Seattle the other day to get on a flight to Hong Kong and begin my next journey. This is my sign of what I previously though was just a bigger experience ahead, and now think of as a staple of the beginnings of liminality. Finally being able to put a name on my love of feeling ‘betwixt and between’ got me excited at the workshop. Being able to place actions and emotions from my past and present into the box of liminality got me excited every day afterwards.
The second concept that resonated with me allowed me to feel some comfort in all of the feelings that run deep in liminality, and that was the concept of communitas. Knowing that there are so many other Bond exchange students that are fellow liminites is an encouraging factor to withstand feelings of discomfort and fear. As much as embracing these feelings attributes to overall growth, it can also result in running away from the source of said feelings or closing oneself off to experiencing anything new. I think that in knowing many students around me are experiencing liminality similar to myself, I will be comforted and feel less alone.
I found the introduction of Slimbach to be intriguing, especially in its parallels to the concepts of Rights of Passage as discussed in the workshop. When he states, “[o]ne of the great joys of educational travel, in whatever form, is to experience familiar things within an unfamiliar context” (Slimbach, 5). This familiarity, as driven by the ever-increasing expansion of consumer goods and spreading of traditions as brought on by travel and tourism, is a portion of the grand scheme of liminality. Living in between two worlds encourages the experiences of everything- familiar or not, in an unfamiliar world. Shortly after Slimbach discusses this concept, he states, “[w]e construct a self that can bridge the chasms that divide us and contribute something of enduring value to others” (5). I think that this quote speaks more to reincorporation. By using the power of liminality to foster growth and development of a new mind or being, one going through reincorporation must allow immersion back into the initial community. The most beneficial way of reincorporating is to form this bridge and find a way to bring growth back into the community and the individuals that compose it, without criticizing or trying to merge the two communities as one.
The travelogue that I selected was Keep Australia On Your Left: A True Story of an Attempt to Circumnavigate Australia by Kayak, by Eric Stiller. I selected this because it had a funny tone to it after reading the short summary provided online. It also shows this man’s adventurous journey. One of my goals in Australia is to embrace every possible adventure, whether it be in kayaking, hiking, or taking surf lessons. I hope that in reading this travelogue, not only will I learn more about my host country, but also I will be inspired to take more of these adventures on.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.
Stiller, Eric. Keep Australia on Your Left: A True Story of an Attempt to Circumnavigate Australia by Kayak. Sydney: Bantam, 2000. Print.