Thinking back on the Rites of Passage workshop, I should begin preparing for my experience abroad by acknowledging the separation I’ll be going through in two weeks. In order to start my rite of passage, I must learn to separate from my old self, which I believe is easier said than done. A concept that I remember striking me as unique during the workshop was that a rite of passage starts with death. This surprised me and left an impression because death is typically the terminal stage in most processes. I think the term death, as a way to describe the separation phase of a rite of passage, is appropriate for describing the affect or emotions of separation as well as the behavior. The emotions of separating from one’s self and his or her community will most likely provoke emotions similar to the emotions associated with death. Death also describes the behavior or actions taken for separation because one must let their old beliefs and values die in order to be able to form new ones sculpted by the experience. With this in mind, I can prepare for these first few weeks abroad in Barcelona by working on opening my mind to new ideas and opinions. I can also harden myself, knowing that difficult times lay ahead when I have to leave my home community behind. One way I have been preparing myself is by spending time with my friends and saying goodbye to them. The goodbyes help to push me forward in the rite of passage because it shows me that my community confirms and supports my journey.
Slimbach discusses an idea that relates to the sifting done during the liminality stage of a rite of passage. During liminality, one sifts through the new ideas, values, and concepts offered by the new culture. Then, they decide which of these ideas and values they want to adopt as their own and incorporate into the old values and ideas they decided to keep. Slimbach explains that “the entertainment, food, and fashion industries are becoming more standardized, but without dissolving inherited tastes and traditions. The new combines with and coexists alongside the old.”(Slimbach, Loc 158 of 4428). While he is not discussing an individual’s rite of passage in this quotation, he is still describing the integration that occurs during a liminality phase. With the western globalization described in the introduction of Becoming World Wise, it is almost as if individual countries are going through their own rite of passage. The country’s interaction with western culture is similar to an experience abroad. Just like countries are a mix of western culture and their own traditional culture, I will integrate new customs and ideas I learn in Spain into my original values and beliefs. This example from Slimbach shows me how I don’t have to completely abandon my old values in order to gain new ones during my rite of passage.
Additionally, Slimbach discusses a concept similar to the reincorporation stage of a rite of passage. He talks about the importance of postsojourn analysis, and how it can “help us to integrate the experiences and insights from the field into our ongoing academic and personal lives.” (Slimbach, Loc 268 of 4428). In reincorporation we come back to our community and behave in a way that fulfills the new role we are expected to have once completing our rite of passage. Slimbach’s statement of integrating the experience abroad into personal lives at home is similar to saying how we change our role or status in the community using the experience we gained. This tells me that when I come home from Spain, I should try not to revert back to the same status or role that I played in my community before my trip to Spain. I should take what I learned in Spain to better my community at home.
For my travelogue, I chose Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain by Chris Stewart. While searching for a travelogue, the part of the title An Optimist in Spain caught my eye. While I wouldn’t exactly classify myself as a pessimist, I do find it hard to be an optimist all the time. I wanted to see how Chris Stewart used optimism to create the best experience he could while in Spain.
Stewart, Chris. Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain. New York: Vintage, 2001. Print.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub. LLC., 2010. Kindle.