Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England.

David G. Blumenkrantz and Marc B. Goldstein’s study of modern day Rites of Passage affirmed my belief that the term is used too often to describe life moments and milestones that do not really fit the definition of a Rite of Passage. This is especially true about American society, where it is common to refer to events such as a child’s first kiss or an adolescent getting their driver’s license. These are exciting milestones in life, but Blumenkrantz and Goldstein define a Rite of Passage as “community-created and community directed experiences that transmit cultural values and knowledge to an individual (or individuals).” (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 42). They mention this in their study, but I immediately began thinking about my Bat Mitzvah, which took place in October of 2009. I was only 13, which seems too young to be considered a woman, but for me I was just considered an adult in my Jewish temple community and I felt a sense of belonging especially amongst the rest of my Hebrew school classmates who had already gone through the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process. I do agree with Blumenkrantz and Goldstein that although some Americans still participate in these religious ceremonies, overall there is a general lack of clear Rites of Passage in our society. I agree that the ages in which it becomes legal for people to vote, drive, drink, etc. are a bit arbitrary and generally it is a bit ambiguous in regards to when an adolescent is truly considered an adult. If that is truly an underlying cause for increased rates of binge drinking, drug use and teenage pregnancy, then maybe we as a society should find ways to reestablish clearer Rites of Passage for young people as they transition into adulthood because those behaviors are dangerous and potentially life threatening.

Blumenkrantz and Goldstein also compiled a list of 20 elements of Rites of Passage, and the three that I think can connect most to my future digital story are adversity and personal challenge, silence, and time alone for reflection. Adversity we may face while going through a Rite of Passage, “challenges us to provide “teachable moments” capable of searing into the emerging adult’s mind essential information related to values and ethics that inform and guide expectations for behavior.” (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 46). I have learned a lot during my time in England, but it was through the toughest times that I learned the most. For example, just a week ago, I was walking to the Underground from my school when a motorcycle drove up onto the sidewalk behind me and one of the men on the bike grabbed my phone out of my hand. I have never experienced anything like that before, and although it was such a negative experience I learned so much from it and it is tough times like these that I may choose to use as a foundation for my digital story. In addition, silence and time alone for reflection somewhat overlap. Blumenkrantz and Goldstein write that silence “makes the ‘call to adventure,’ the internal alarm clock awakening them to the coming of age process, almost inaudible. Creating opportunities for silence and to spend time alone—the ninth and tenth elements—help a young person develop an internal dialogue for narrating and making sense of what is going on around them.” (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 46). I have always been a person who enjoys the company of others, but I also crave alone time where I can just reflect and get lost in my thoughts for a bit. That is when I have my best ideas and when I can decompress from the hustle and bustle of life. I have been trying to keep up with a journal while studying abroad and it is during my alone time at night or just while I’m on the Underground or traveling that I like to write my thoughts in it. I’m hoping these can help provide ideas for my digital story.

The keys to a digital story are “showing” people your experience instead of “telling” them about it, as well as “encapsulating and emotionalizing” your story and your experience in a way that resonates with people and sticks with them long after they’ve finished watching your digital story. I think Rachel Cox did this extremely well in her digital story about her study abroad experience in Paris. She not only used a wonderful metaphor comparing her growth as a person to the growth of the trees as the seasons changed from winter to spring, but she also included a personal story about the growth of her relationship with her elderly neighbor who only spoke French. This, along with the emotion with which she narrated her story and the pictures she included, gave her story depth and emotion that resonated with me and I’m sure with many others. This is the kind of writing I hope my digital story has. As a journalism major and a person that just loves to write in general, I have spent most of my life learning about stories and falling in love with them. I hope I can create the same effect with my own personal story.

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