Travel Log 13 “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Elizabeth Marino. Split, Croatia

As I’ve been growing older (to my prime age of 20), I find myself often observing and evaluating the generations below mine. These include the youth and adolescents that Blumenkrantz and Goldstein focus on. Like the authors and most other people, I have noticed that many people in this age group involve themselves in experimentation that sometimes gets out of hand. It’s no secret that teenagers partake in activities that they are not yet legal to do, such as drinking and drug use. Like Blumenkrantz and Goldstein pointed out, some of this experimentation develops into bad habits like alcoholism and drug addiction. When I look at the generations below mine, it seems as if the age that this experimentation begins gets lower and lower as the years pass. I often attributed this occurrence to modern media. My theory was that the younger generations see adult targeted content earlier in their life due to social media and easier access to smart phones, computers, and tablets. I never thought about how this occurrence might be driven by the lack of rites of passages in our communities. The authors theorize that without community organized rites of passages, adolescents and teens “create their own marker events based on peer or media values” in order to signify that they are adults (Blumenkrantz & Goldstein, p. 43). The environment I am surrounded by certainly supports this theory. As a college student I see this all the time when peers turn 21. Although the adult age in the U.S. is 18, many people see 21 as the adult age due to new abilities they legally have. On this day, people often go out and drink to excess. Viewing this from the lens that Blumenkrantz and Goldstein have created, these people are creating their own marker event to show the public that they are adults because there isn’t a community created rite of passage.

I think the development of the Global Community is threatened by the lack of community-based rites of passages. The authors spoke about how the rites of passage in a community are when the individual “undergoes precise training in values and ethics that inform and guide behavior” (Blumenkrantz & Goldstein, p. 43). If one cannot learn how to behave based on values and ethics on a small community scale, how would one learn how to appropriately behave on the larger global community scale? Playing a role in the global community requires one to be proactive in learning how to act and behave in a way that is appropriate and not offensive towards the global neighbors that one is interacting with. The foundation for this is set at the community level, but one can be missing such a skill if they are not properly taught it through processes such as rites of passage.

The developmental process and brain storming for the digital story is one way in which the digital story practices the element “time alone for reflection” of a rite of passage. Writing the travel logs that we will look back on while we create our digital stories is another way in which we take “time alone for reflection”. Having this time to create the digital stories will contribute to developing “self-awareness, identity formation and ease at being with others”(Blumenkrantz & Goldstein, p. 46).

The digital story also helps to fortify the new person that emerged from the rite of passage. In our digital stories, we are supposed to express how the journey has changed us and who we have become as a result of those changes. This goes along with element 15 “Giving away one’s previous attitudes, behaviors, etc.”. Through the digital story we will be proclaiming how we are giving up some practices of our old life to live as the new person we have become through our journey.

Creating a digital story also will help us to reflect upon the rite of passage element of “adversity or personal challenge”. As the authors suggest, every rite of passage should have challenges for the initiate. Studying abroad in another country is guaranteed to pose challenges to the student. In our digital story, we will have to touch upon our own challenges and how they shaped us into who we are today. This will help ingrain the lessons we learned from those challenges into our minds forever.

I liked and connected most with the digital story by Caitlin Murphy who studied in the Netherlands. I felt that she chose a good symbol, the bike, to explain her growth as a person through the rite of passage. She continued with the metaphor of the bike throughout the entire digital story, but without over doing it to the point that it sounded forced or too cheesy. She was able to express the essence of her experience without actually listing or describing specific activities or trips that she went on. By doing this, she didn’t get caught up in extraneous details that would make viewers ask “what’s the point here?”The storyteller also used strong words to elicit emotional responses in her viewers.

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