Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Nicole Muckenhirn. Gold Coast, Queensland

This course has been about the study abroad experience as a rite of passage and how we grow as students and people in general.  It brought a different and unique perspective to my study abroad experience to contemplate how I was moving through the phases.

In Rites of Passage as a Framework for Community Interventions with Youth by David G. Blumenkrantz and Marc B. Goldstein the rites of passage theory is explored with an emphasis on its presence, or lack thereof in American culture.  “The lack of clearly established rites of passage in America is partly due to the ambiguity about when and how one becomes an adult in contemporary society” (Arnett).  The authors reason this by stating that the ages in which Americans receive adult privileges like driving, drinking, and voting have nothing to do with actual maturity and competence (Blumenkrantz & Goldstein).  I agree with the authors to a certain extent.  It’s true that as Americans we receive privileges when we reach certain ages, but the same can be said for most developed countries around the world.    The authors point though is that adolescents will often break these rules and participate in activities in order to show adulthood.  This is particularly true of drinking and drug use.  I personally don’t know any kids who have actually waited till they were 21 to drink alcohol.  There is so much societal pressure to begin before that, especially in college.  The question then is whether a rite of passage is present.  Even if teens do drink before turning 21 I still believe it is a milestone for someone to be able to order their first legal drink.  But I do think it is also a rite of passage.  Being legal is the final stage, it is incorporation where someone is finally part of the group and not just being stuck trying to be.

I’m very nervous about creating my digital story.  It’s a daunting task to come up with a short video that encompasses what I’ve truly taken away from my study abroad experience.  I’m drawn to highlighting certain aspects of my trip that stood out the most but that’s not what the assignment is looking for.  The digital stories purpose is to showcase growth and show people my experience, not “tell” them.  Something that is easier said than done.  All of the elements from “twenty elements of rites of passage” are important to my rite of passage abroad, but I obviously can’t touch on them all during a 3-5 minute video.  The ones that seem most important to me are adversity or personal challenge, silence, and connection with nature.  These components are about challenging yourself both mentally and physically, developing an internal dialogue, and finding the connection and interdependence to the natural environment.  When I think of my time abroad the most persistent memories are of the amazing sceneries and the feeling that they evoked.  I hope to be able to capture these in my video essay.

The video that stands out the most to me is by Rachel Cox in Paris, France.  I like this video because of the emotions it evoked in me.  She didn’t just tell me about her time in Paris, she was able to use specific details to show her growth.  She doesn’t let the video become cluttered.  Instead she draws the viewer in with twinkling lights and peaceful music.  It makes you want to be there with her.


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