Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Storytelling” By Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia.

When looking at personal growth and development throughout our aging stages, I believe that it is important to have rituals that signify our ascension into a new social level. I think that as countries like America, England, and Australia do not have specific traditions in their culture.

Personally, I cannot think of any ritual that we as Americans do that signify a change in social standings besides the high school and college graduation. While they signify more maturation, they are not necessarily unique to a group or community. Another aspect that I think signifies rituals to me would be religion. While I cannot speak for other religions, I can speak about growing up Catholic. Growing up, we go through rituals that signify how old and mature we are getting. As children, we have Baptism and our First Communion. We then go through Confirmation, which marks us as adults. The events and rituals brings us into the Catholic community, and as we evolve as people we go through more rituals to show how we are becoming more important to our given community. We get the feeling that we belong to the community, and the ritual is the way our friends and family acknowledge us. In Deeply into the Bone by Ronald Grimes, he expresses this sentiment by writing, “The main reason for having rites of passages is to enable mindful attendance to events that may otherwise pass us by.” (Grimes 2000).

I believe that the lack of rituals could be detrimental to the growth of a community. If someone does not go through a ritual, their growth or accomplishments are diminished and go unrecognized. If a collection of people do not recognize another person’s accomplishment, they all act as individuals rather than a unified community. When we acknowledge and support each other, we encourage and grow as a community.

The digital story is an important part in sharing my study abroad experience with members of my community back home. It is a way to explain the experiences I have had here, with the assistance of pictures. Pictures are vital to it all, because it allows the listener to see what is being discussed, and allows them to place themselves there and experience it.

The first element of a rite of passage that I believe is important is to add adversity or a challenge. I personally believe that the best way to grow from a child to an adult is to learn how to handle the challenges in front of us. One does not truly learn how to overcome obstacles and become mature if there is not some kind of problem or force to overcome. The second element is having time to be alone to reflect on newfound values and beliefs. I think that while we are abroad, we will be exposed to multiple beliefs that vary from what we would normally think. While we should have an open mind to the new aspects of our lives, we should also be able to think for ourselves and determine if the belief is beneficial for our growth. Having multiple people force or influence your opinions on things does not make it your own belief, it just makes you a collection of another person’s thoughts. The final and most important element of rite of passages is the celebration of status. It is important for the community to recognize the growth or change in the participant of the rite of passage. If the actions go un-acknowledged, then the participant may revert and the passage may be wasted.

Personally, my favorite digital story that I personally connected with was Caitlin Murphy’s story on the Netherlands. I really liked how she used riding a bike to help explain her growing process while abroad. I really related to it because I planned on making my digital story on surfing. I feel as though I can better communicate the things I have learned abroad by using surfing as my medium, which would help my community feel like they were part of my experience.


Works Cited:

Grimes, R. L. (n.d.). Deeply into the bone: re-inventing rites of passage. Berkeley: University of California Press.





One thought on “Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Storytelling” By Mitchell McGowan. Gold Coast, Australia.

  1. Hi Mitch,

    I too believed that graduation was one of the only rites of passage, young Americans really experience in life. Yet I never really considered those introduced by the religious community. I personally am not religious, yet always envied my friends who went through communion and confirmation, because they genuinely seemed proud and expressed some personal growth, and the church community expressed that as well.

    I never considered the ramifications the community endures by not having rites of passages, I simply thought the individual would be at a loss. But you make complete sense when you say that the community is divided and lost without rites of passage.



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