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Humans of Harker: Life without borders

Raphael Sanche journeys with empathy

%E2%80%9CI+always+tended+to+be+an+empathetic+person.+Even+when+someone%27s+texting+style+changes%2C+I+can+always+tell+if+they%27re+angry+or+sad.+That+sort+of+started+when+I+started+becoming+better+with+my+mental+health.+I+started+realizing+when+people+around+me+are+stressed.+I+wanted+to+cull+that.+I+think+everyone+needs+of+extra+support%2C+and+if+I+can+be+there+for+someone%2C+then+I+should.+I+don%E2%80%99t+think+of+it+as+a+responsibility.+I+feel+like+its+something+as+a+person+you+should+consider+doing+for+others%2C%22+Raphael+Sanche+%2812%29+said.
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Humans of Harker: Life without borders

“I always tended to be an empathetic person. Even when someone's texting style changes, I can always tell if they're angry or sad. That sort of started when I started becoming better with my mental health. I started realizing when people around me are stressed. I wanted to cull that. I think everyone needs of extra support, and if I can be there for someone, then I should. I don’t think of it as a responsibility. I feel like its something as a person you should consider doing for others,

“I always tended to be an empathetic person. Even when someone's texting style changes, I can always tell if they're angry or sad. That sort of started when I started becoming better with my mental health. I started realizing when people around me are stressed. I wanted to cull that. I think everyone needs of extra support, and if I can be there for someone, then I should. I don’t think of it as a responsibility. I feel like its something as a person you should consider doing for others," Raphael Sanche (12) said.

Gloria Zhang

“I always tended to be an empathetic person. Even when someone's texting style changes, I can always tell if they're angry or sad. That sort of started when I started becoming better with my mental health. I started realizing when people around me are stressed. I wanted to cull that. I think everyone needs of extra support, and if I can be there for someone, then I should. I don’t think of it as a responsibility. I feel like its something as a person you should consider doing for others," Raphael Sanche (12) said.

Gloria Zhang

Gloria Zhang

“I always tended to be an empathetic person. Even when someone's texting style changes, I can always tell if they're angry or sad. That sort of started when I started becoming better with my mental health. I started realizing when people around me are stressed. I wanted to cull that. I think everyone needs of extra support, and if I can be there for someone, then I should. I don’t think of it as a responsibility. I feel like its something as a person you should consider doing for others," Raphael Sanche (12) said.

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When Raphael Sanche (12) was four or five years old, he joined the little kids swim class in New York. His first challenge was jumping down from the first diving podium. Enumerated by either fear of his terrifyingly tall and large swim coach or of the water, he arrived before a serious dilemma: Jump or not?

“He didn’t even think about it, he just jumped. I almost cried about it. And sure enough, in a couple of weeks they moved him with the big kids,” said Raphael’s mother, Karine Sanche, describing the young Raphael. “I’ve always admired his strength and resilience and determination.”

By channeling his strength into helping others, Raphael is the epitome of the caring and giving parent, and specifically to his castmates, he’s known as “cast dad.” From asking about your day, to giving constructive advice and to helping you wheel in a heavy, unwieldy cart, he always responds to everyone’s needs with an eager hand. Emmy Huchley (12), Raphael’s friend and castmate, credits Raphael as someone who opened her eyes.

“In sophomore year, I was really stressed out about math. I wasn’t handling it well, I trapped myself in thinking the only thing I can do is to study harder. But Raph is the one who got me out of the pattern of thinking and made me realize that I could do other things. He was really helpful in making my life easier,” Emmy said.

Raphael’s kindness and empathy stems from a darker story. He alludes to this one particular narrative, which he had read, as the one that transformed his thoughts. He once heard of a man who committed suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge after no one smiled at him that day. The man said previously that even one smile that day would’ve saved him.

As someone who has personally experienced the physical and emotional challenges of mental health, Raphael determines to use the anecdote and personal experiences to help others.

“I always tended to be an empathetic person,” he said. “That sort of started when I started becoming better with my mental health. I started realizing when people around me are stressed. I wanted to cull that. I think everyone needs some extra support, and if I can be there for someone, then I should. I don’t think of it as a responsibility. I feel like its something as a person you should consider doing for others,” he said.

Raphael went through a journey of recovery after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression after his dad’s death just before he turned 10. His first diagnosis was depression and mild anxiety. However, his passage with mental illness didn’t end there. Moving into sophomore year, he was further diagnosed with several forms of anxiety. At moments, he struggled with attending school regularly, having physical symptoms such as chest pains. Raphael couldn’t find the right treatment, causing him to at one point miss five weeks of school.

In junior year Raphael finally found the right medication, and his health instantly changed. With his new treatment, he believes that he’s “just gotten better ever since”. He reminisces about his journey over the past year and finds a correlation between his health and the story of this year’s fall play “Our Town.”

“I found myself appreciating life more and more,” Raphael said. “That was one of the themes [of] fall play this year—appreciating life and recognizing life as it is and taking a moment to feel every piece of life from breakfast to talking to your friends. I found myself enjoying life more and more as my mental health got better.”

With his recovery, Raphael sees a future ahead in helping others and learning about the world. Now as president of GSA, he gave a speech in front of the school about his journey being transgender, representing a voice of strength.

“One of the best things about who Raphael is and is becoming is the fact that he is his own man,” Raphael’s theater teacher Jeffrey Draper said. “There’s a natural poise and confidence that is so good to see. It shows that he is happy and that he is confident, poised and prepared for what’s next.”

One of the things that Raphael is most passionate about is traveling. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, and then growing up in New York in an immigrant family from France, Raphael was encompassed by a multicultural society at a young age. Diversity was prevalent from his playing in the playground, taking toddler classes, and then starting school.

“His entire life was being around different people and different cultures. So it almost is something very normal to him. That what he enjoys: having different point of views and different cultures,” Karine, Raphael’s mother, said.

Raphael’s high school journey transformed from a point of not being able to travel to finding his dreams. As his high school career comes to a close, Raphael’s new chapter will involve achieving his passion for traveling from attending NYU Abu Dhabi for college next fall.

“Because my mental health was so bad for a while, I was afraid of traveling. . . I frankly missed having a new experience. Life is too short to sit around and not do anything. Now my mental health is better and I’m not afraid of flying anymore, I just can’t wait to go out and talk to people and experience different foods and different cultures and traditions,” Raphael said.

Raphael, who sees a future in political science, is determined to get discover different perspectives and explore the global experience. He believes in a bipartisan view of life and “cooperation across borders”.

“Life in America is little homogenous, I feel like. We have the same fast food joints. In another country they have a completely different way of living and different day to day life. I just think that’s so interesting: just a different viewpoint on the world and on life. It’s my responsibility to understand how people in other cultures live, especially if I want to go into political science,” Raphael said.

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