Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” Meghan Thorogood Florence, Italy

American society is one like any other. We did not follow the guideline older countries laid out for us. Instead of creating an entirely new identity, we became a melting pot. For food we eat Mexican, Thai, Italian, Japanese and so much more. We identify ourselves as American but when asked where you are from, many Americans will say, “well I am 25% Scottish, 25% Italian, 25% German, and 25% Irish”. I feel this plays a part in the absence of meaningful, community-based rituals within life transitions. By hanging on to the culture of our descendants, we are less likely to form those close communal rituals with other Americans. We continue the rituals of our descendants with other people whose descendants shared the same culture. I believe this directly impacts American’s rite of passage and effects American society. I feel as though we are missing those rites of passages that help share our society and help develop a more structured meaning of American society.  While I have been in Italy, I have learned about and witnessed many rituals and ceremonies. Witnessing this showed me how significant the power of a united community can be. It made me realize the United States does not have many ceremonies like this, one’s that bring joy and meaning to all.

I was not familiar with the concept of rites of passage until I began this course. I think it is a concept that everyone should have a basic knowledge of. It has helped me to make sense of many things that have, had, and will go on in my life. However, between my time abroad and reading, I have found two rites of passage that I connected with. The first one being rites of passage #12: “Time alone for reflection”. Back home, I usually do not have much time alone to reflect. I am always running from place to place, lucky to even get a meal in. However, being abroad I have had a lot of alone time. I have even had times where I was not physically alone, but mentally alone. At first, this drove me crazy but I learned how to use that time wisely for reflection. I reflect on my day, my personal growth, and so much more. I am not exactly sure what the focus of my digital story is going to be yet, but I want it to include the acceptance of being alone. This transitions into rites of passage #15: “Giving away one’s previous attitudes, behaviors, etc.” Before I always considered being alone as a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I am still very much a people person and love to be surrounded by other, but I have learned the importance of “me” time as it plays into the development of a person. Lastly, rites of passage #4: “You can only bring someone as far as you have been yourself”, was one that I strongly connected to. I am not sure how this rite of passage may play into my digital story. However, I know this rite of passage will now have an impact on my everyday life. It reminds me that I have not walked a mile in others shoes and I cannot possible know how they feel or give advice when I have not been in a particular situation. It reminds me that you hurt is not the same as my hurt and one’s happiness is different than that of my own. I hope to be able to somehow incorporate this rites of passage into my digital story, but if not I know it has already impacted me.
After watching all three digital stories, I still felt as though I connected Rachel Cox’s digital Story about her time in Paris, France the most. I really enjoyed how she connected the changing of the seasons with the self growth she experienced while abroad. I felt as though I was going through the process with her. I also like how she incorporated the friendship she made with her neighbor.  Being taken though these two aspects of Rachel’s abroad experience made me feel as though I was on the journey with her. I was left feeling like I was living the story and understanding the unfolding of the lessons she learned.

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