I was very skeptical of the purpose of our morning workshop. Waking up early on a Saturday was not how I was envisioning my day, but I decided to go along with it and give the workshop a chance. I was so glad that I decided to take QU301: Rites of Passages and attend the workshop before embarking on my adventure abroad.
I thought that the workshop was a great platform for us to learn the expectations and goals of the class. While we could have easily been sent abroad and told to write blog posts about what we were experiencing, the workshop helped me realize we were truly going on a rite of passage. This concept of study abroad being a rite of passage was the concept that resonated with me the most. I never recognized the idea that we were leaving our old status behind, and entering a new environment where we are more receptive to the world and teachings around us. The idea that we come back as much more mature individuals, having completed a rite of passage, was something that strengthened my desire to succeed in Australia.
Many of the other concepts mentioned in our workshop were found in Richard Slimbach’s book, Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. The first concept that stood out to me was the idea that we all must join together and form a communitas while we are abroad. This comes from the idea that when students leave behind their former status and enter liminality, they must band together to help accomplish goals and challenges. The group may be comprised of unlikely friends, but they share the same situation, so they stick together and grow together. Slimbach discusses this topic by writing, “ It seems to take up-close-and-personal encounters with those of other social worlds to instruct us about our common humanity and our deepest differences, all the while inducing us to live beyond narrow identities and allegiances. When we do something with others- live with them, work with them or study alongside them- we become something together. We construct a self that can bridge the chasms that divide us and contribute something of enduring value to others.” (Slimbach, Loc 196 of 4428). He is saying that while students from our programs can come from many different walks of life, the concept of being alone in a foreign country will help unite us, forming a strong new communitas.
Another concept we covered in the workshop that was mentioned in the book was the idea of using mentors to help facilitate our progress from old status to new status. We learned that we must use mentors to help us transition to our new state, and allow us to grow as individuals. In class, we learned that teachers, workers in our abroad programs, and even locals can act as mentors to us. Slimbach talks about how his book can be a guide to students who are transitioning to their new status in society. He also recommends that we are active, and that we should search out mentors that would personally benefit us. People like professionals in fields we want to work in, teachers we have direct contact with and cultural leaders. It really emphasized how much I need to interact with the people around me, and use them to help my growth as well.
As for a travelogue, I decided I was going to read Travels of an Ordinary Man Australia by Paul Elliot. The book is written by a man who wanted to start his life over, so he sold everything he owned and ventured out to Australia. He does not live a luxurious life, and just backpacks throughout the country. There are stories about the people who influenced his travels and the beautiful sights he has seen. I want to feel like I am joining in his growth, and use the book to help guide my own growth while I am abroad.
Elliot, Paul. Travels of an Ordinary Man Australia. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Amazon. Web.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.