Sharing the Hero's Journey: Part II

Vincent Chang, Siddhant RajJuly 31, 2023CourageFeatures

Artwork by Elly Goetz

For this collaborative project, pairs of youth contributors from different locations around the world interviewed each other about their personal “hero’s journey,” and then wrote about their partner’s experience.

All heroes started small, treasuring new experiences for a time when they might need them.

I learnt that like myself, Siddhant has lived in many different cities in childhood — West Bengal, Kerala, Ahmedabad, and Tamil Nadu. His journey of growth began when he settled at the Riverside School, where he found his passion for writing, literature and the arts. He told me that before Riverside, he felt lost and in limbo — an experience which I can dearly relate to. For me, it was Beijing followed by Adelaide, and then the larger city of Melbourne where I reside now. I felt a beautiful moment of compassion when our lives, previously unaligned, suddenly resonated through conversation.

As the hero braces for the unknown road ahead, the thought of roadblocks seems almost inevitable. Indeed, it was not all calm waters for Siddhant when he first joined the Riverside School. Shifting from city to city meant that he was constantly leaving old friends and making new ones. Siddhant told me how not fitting into the various sporting events made him a target of jesting and scapegoating, but reflected how the experience made him stronger than ever before. And just as how a hero buckles under the weight of burden, Siddhant eventually triumphed and gained sure footing in this new environment.

Next came another challenge: although his passion for storytelling grew with every work, Siddhant found that passion wasn’t the only winning factor when it came to creative writing competitions. Not being selected was devastating for him; feeling as if he had failed, Siddhant remarked how it took time for him to reason with himself and re-ignite the motivation which drove him onward. With nobody to rely on but himself, the Hero must empower himself with all his previous experience, and persevere through the dark hour of the night. Finding motivation to move forward must have taken much dedication and quiet hard-work, but Siddhant was able to push through all those obstacles, and now his passion for storytelling burns brighter than ever.

When we talked about the future of our respective journeys, Siddhant paused for a moment, and remarked how all the best heroes should not only inspire themselves, but others who are still struggling with the numerous obstacles on the long road. Because being wise is about ‘having the power to persevere through all adversities, all the while maintaining patience with those struggling alongside yourself.’ Now victorious, the Hero watches his shadow stretch as the new day rises before him — a reminder that his adventure does not end yet.

They say that a hero is a product of time and struggle, and he has the wisdom to treat adversity as an incentive, rather than adversary.

I was reminded of this after my interaction with Vincent. Our conversation revolved around our journeys, and getting the chance to know Vincent has been an enthralling experience because I had the opportunity to meet with a person from a different cultural background, from a different country, and with different stories. Although we are different, there are indeed some common chords that made this interaction a more meaningful experience.

Just like me, Vincent is someone who has been blessed with the chance to live in a lot of places, which include Beijing, Adelaide, and Melbourne. He loves finding himself under an avalanche of books, so his interest in poetry, literature, and history is natural.

Listening to Vincent’s inspiring story has instilled multiple attitudes in me. It has also tremendously broadened my horizon and has added an abundance of value to my thought process. Moreover, his “hero’s journey” has made me more determined to be independent as an individual. As someone that has shifted schools many times, Vincent has lost many of his intimate friends along the way. But, instead of seeing all these hardships as deterrents, he has shown true courage and has seen them as an opportunity to be more adaptive, explore new minds, and enhance his linguistic skills by learning new languages. I could relate to this because I come from a multicultural family and have had to reside in many places, changing schools time and again.

One thing I really appreciated about Vincent is that he is an ambitious and driven person who aims to inspire others through his linguistic and public-speaking skills. He strongly believes that words have the everlasting power to transform the bane of apprehension into an antidote called “excitement”. Unlike many who solely deem triumph and success their primary objective, Vincent believes that empathy and compassion are the primary ingredients to a harmonious future. His belief is a subtle reminder for me of goodwill and the tiny positive ripples that kindness makes in this vast ocean known as “society.” These small ripples have the capacity to make a sea of difference in the world, and Vincent is a true agent of change that our society needs today.

One of Vincent’s hobbies that intrigued me is his interest in running. I appreciate the fact that he has explored beyond his comfort zone and has delved deeper into his interests beyond linguistics and history.

All in all, my discussion with Vincent has strengthened my perspectives and has empowered me in a myriad of ways. It has given me the courage to persevere through the many ordeals that life may pose for me, for it is my decisions today that will determine what tomorrow will bring, and I must be ready to face its realities. As William Ernest Henley rightly said, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” I thank my friend Vincent for sharing his journey and for reminding me that my adventure has not ended yet.

Vincent Chang is a Year 10 student from Australia. When he isn’t preparing for a debate or rehearsing at choir, you can find him reading and writing about literature and the arts, history and linguistics, theater and poetry. He is especially interested in narrative: because a story isn’t about “what happens,” but about how what happens transforms the characters.

Siddhant Raj is an 11-year-old from a multicultural family in India. He loves to call himself a bibliophile and aspires to be a published author someday! Riverside School is the space where he gives shape to his thoughts and dreams. Writing stories and poems is Siddhant’s superpower.