Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Janine Jay. London, England

I think I have heard “learn from other people’s mistakes” from my mother more times than I can count. In a world where many people claim that we have lost the art of common sense, I think the problem is really that we have forgotten to learn from those around us. We are rarely the first person to do something and when we are I can bet that there has been someone before us that has at least thought about or attempted what we are aiming for. Our parents, though it is hard to imagine sometimes, have been through all of the tests and trials of growing up and finding our way through the journey of becoming an adult. We have always looked to them for guidance but in a world where we don’t have a clear-cut understanding on what it means to ‘grow up’, we end up having to interpret it for ourselves.

How many times have you heard “Oh grow up”? This could mean a variety of things. ‘Stop being so immature’, ‘Go get a job’, ‘It’s time for you to move out of your parent’s basement’. As Blumenkrantz talks about- “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. Indeed, this is how binge drinking, drug use, teen pregnancy and other similar behaviors have become elevated to rites of passage reflecting adult status.” (2010, pg. 43) A quick search on Buzzfeed or Amazon will produce a bunch of results with guides on “How to Adult”. Really! A guide on how to do something that is a natural, biological process of progressing in life. As if we are the first ones to ever go through this process, we have to write our own guides for how to do what billions of people have done before us.

Rites of passage keeps us on a path towards our goal without being diverted onto trails leading to self-destruction. Without confirmation from my community, I will have to seek it from my peers with rituals that we make up ourselves. I will sneak out in high school to prove I can handle myself at night or party on my 21st birthday to make the passage to ‘freedom’. But these can be dangerous and with no one monitoring them, we end up in potentially life threatening situations. The simple way to curb this gap is to create community based rituals to bring us all together. As talked about in Grime’s book Deeply into the Bone “we risk our children’s humanity if we fail to initiate them.” (2000, pg. 100) For the sake of our own children, we should be instilling rites of passage as a fail-safe so that they will be guided on a straight path through life.

A digital story is meant to articulate one’s personal growth that has occurred before, during, and after your time abroad in order to share with the many communities that we are a part of back home. In my digital story, I want to talk about the way that slowing down has been a very important part of what I have learned here. In the Blumenkratnz reading, there were three elements of the rites of passage that stuck out to me. The first was the element of community values and ethics which talks about developing a consensus of the expectations of youth growing up. I have been thinking a lot lately about my responsibility as an adult and a global citizen and have spent a lot of time researching and reflecting on the characteristics of a good human being. This examination has led to the topic of virtues, which is a common theme throughout our readings for this class. The second element was that of silence. With the busy schedule that I lead every day, I discovered the importance and the thrill of silence. It feels like a foreign concept to me but simply laying down in my bed just to reflect on the world with no noise around me has produced peace and introspection that I find unparalleled. Lastly, an element that I really connected with was that of connection with nature. One of the most important practices that I have taken up here has been walking through the various parks around London. It is so peaceful to find yourself in a green escape in this huge, moving city. Even the canal walk along the side of my campus has become a ritual excursion that I don’t know what I would do without.

One story that struck me the most was Rachel Cox’s in Paris, France. I loved the theme of foliage as a way to show her growth as a student in a new country. It really painted a picture of how she was evolving with this new persona. With my new connection to silence and nature, I think I will incorporate a similar theme in my own digital story to show the shift in values that I have been noticing in mu time here. Hopefully my digital story will show people in my communities back home how important it is to have self-examinations and experiences to grow as an individual.

Works Cited:

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.

Grimes, Ronald. (2000) Deeply into the Bone- Chapter 2 Coming of Age, Joining Up. University of California Press. 88-148.

Digital Storytelling Presentation Slides


One thought on “Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Janine Jay. London, England

  1. Hi Janine,

    I like the idea you have for your digital story. I think these themes will enhancing the story you are trying to tell. I agree that as Americans we do not have many rites of passages as other cultures do. To make up for this, we try to create our own; however, they haven’t turned out to be quite helpful. The 21st birthday example you mentioned encompasses this perfectly. You have waited throughout your teen years to be able to drink legally and when the time finally comes many over indulge and end up sick or in dangerous situations. If we had a more meaningful rite of passage for coming to the legal drinking age maybe this pattern would come to a halt. However, the problem is I do not see this happening anytime soon. American culture has very few of these and most of them are quite silly and meaningless like the 21st birthday example. I’m not sure as a culture we can change this. It may have to be a change we make in our everyday lives, but i’m afraid our culture will remain the same. I find myself quite jealous of those cultures that grow up with rites of passage traditions. I wish American culture had more of this.

    Best wishes,


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