The Hero’s Journey


Dalton Striedel, 129 YinD

The 12 Stages of The Hero’s Volunteer’s Journey

I’m a nerd. I’ve always been obsessed with myths, legends, and superheroes. Something about a hero triumphing over his inner and outer obstacles, in spite of all their self inflicted mistakes, gives me the motivation to push forward in life. If you’re anything like me then you’re probably familiar with the Hero Character Arc that takes place in almost every movie, story, tale, etc.

This Hero Character Arc can be broken down into 12 steps that fit almost every hero storyline. So I’m here to pretend to be a Superhero and tell you about my personal Character Arc as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in hopes to make you smile a bit.

1. Ordinary World

There I was, sitting behind my desk looking at all of the multicolored folders laid out in front of me. I needed to prioritize my workload for the day – who was was I going to call first? What policy could I sell the fastest?  Fish tacos or beef burrito for lunch?

I was complacent. I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

2. Call to Adventure

My eyes were bloodshot and my back was aching. I had been sitting for too long working on the computer, but mostly daydreaming. I quickly exited out of the Peace Corps website as my former stepdad/ boss walked into my office.

“He wore his suit? He never wears a suit… ohh god, he is firing me.” He sat down across from me, and as usual was straight to the point. “DJ, I’m retiring and I want you to take over Ferguson Insurance.”

3. Refusal of the Call

“Jameson on the rocks, please,” I asked. Mom poured me a glass of sweet tea instead and sweetly asked me what was on my mind. “Bill wants to turn the business over to me,” I said. “That’s wonderful!” she cheerfully replied. “Yea, but I was also was accepted into Peace Corps this week,” I said as I slowly slid under the table.

Mom, with all her grace, stood up and said, “Let’s go get that Jameson.”

4. Meeting the Mentor

“It’s hot as F$^&. I can’t wait to get back to my host family’s house and just veg out for the rest of the day. Wait… what if they want me to dance again…. or worse! What if I have to spend the rest of the evening peeling Jackfruit!? I can’t wait to be on my own. Only 2 days till PST is finished!”

I pulled into the yard on my bike to the usual sounds of dogs fiercely barking. My host dad immediately took me by my hand and led me to my room. As I entered, I could see new big bold letters painted on the wall. They read, WE LOVE DEEJAA.

That family had more patience and love for me than I ever deserved.

5. Crossing the Threshold

“Holy sh#$, holy sh*#, holy sh@$. This is really happening. I’m about to get into the car with these Isaan speaking people who I can’t understand. I’m gonna throw up.”

I loaded my green duffle bags and sat in the backseat of the truck next to my newly appointed friends. They handed me an ice cold LEO and smiled.

“Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.”

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies

Tests: First month at site, language, teaching, biking, loneliness, patience, my liver.

Allies: Peace Corps fransssss, care packages, green tea, lesson planning, Khon Kaen, patience.

Enemies: Rainy season, all the bugs, hangovers, self-loathing, stubbornness, ego, isolation.

7. Approach To The Inmost Cave


“WOW! Thanksgiving wasn’t so bad away from home. I’ve almost been in Thailand for a year! I’m so thankful for the Peace Corps fam. They are what’s keeping me here.”

Winter is Coming

8. Ordeal


1 month later….

“F*&$ this! I can’t do this anymore! I don’t care about anyone or anything! I’m just gonna do it… I’m just gonna pack up and go home. A year is fine. I did fine. I’m fine.”

“I’m not really doing anything but smiling and taking pictures anyway. This wasn’t what I thought it would be…..”

9. Reward (Seizing The Sword)

There I was. Standing on top of a stone. All of the 129 fam and PC staff are standing around me. A slow, but steady chant of “We can do hard things” starts. I’m nervously sweating, but I can feel the strength of personal growth take a hold of me. I reach out and grab a hold the hilt on the Midservice Sword. With all my patience and will power I pull until the sword starts to give way!! The crowd suddenly erupts! Screaming! “We can do hard things!!!” at the top of their lungs!

I’m standing there, Midservice Sword in hand, a new volunteer. Ready for anything.

To Be Continued…

So there are 3 more steps to this hero arc, but sadly, we aren’t there yet. COS is quickly approaching and my hope is to end my Peace Corps story knowing I fought the dragon and obtained the ultimate treasure. Peace of mind.

Thanks for taking the time to read and if you would like more information about The Hero’s Journey story arc, here is a link!


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