Raissa Kouegbe

My name is Raissa Kouegbe; I was born in Cote d’Ivoire. I define myself as an artist, writer, and journalist. At the age of 6, I left my home country to France, as political tension started rising. At 13, gratefully, I moved to Boston to reunite with my mother. In 2017, I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Design while studying at the New School in New York City.

I have always been curious, empathic, and drawn by stories. In a way, journalism always made sense to me. Growing up, I would spend countless hours in my favorite place, the library, where I would read until the library close. Writing became second nature, and I gladly passed time writing poetry. My love for storytelling, in general, made me explore different ways in which a story could be told, and I fell in love with photography which became a passion. It was also a great tool to document and better understand my environment. I was always eager to be more creative and did everything from dance, theater, performance arts. All those activities were also ways to occupy myself.

At that time, things turned out to be difficult; I was raised by a single mother. We moved a lot and struggled financially. I attended a school where most people were very well off. I remember the times when life circumstances made me feel lonely, disoriented, and disadvantaged. But I did not let this stop me. I kept finding ways to brighten my horizons and feel purposeful.

When I was 16, I had the opportunity to work for a great nonprofit organization that worked with young kids in Boston to enrich their lives through art. That organization aimed to support artistic programs to build confidence, ambition, and hope in the youth. This experience showed me how transformative the power of art could be. There, I worked as an art curator and helped create projects with other passionate teens. I met people from communities and backgrounds from over the city of Boston. Consequently, I was able to expand my horizons.

At 17, I volunteered in the biggest hospital MGH as a patient escort; I spent a lot of time walking through the hospital and dispatching patients. I realized the loneliness of patients.

At the age of 19, I founded a creative platform called SIDE II, which gives representation to young artists of multicultural background to showcase their art. I am still doing 9 years later and still believe that art can be a powerful tool, especially for disadvantaged and underrepresented youth.

My dream is to expand SIDE II to kids in hospitals, foster homes, by providing creative outlets, and programs to enrich their lives. I believe there is a lot of ways doing this can be beneficial. Art can be used as a healing tool and should be used in places where healing is of extreme importance. I feel grateful to be able to participate in miss Africa USA Pageant, and to have the opportunity to express this mission.

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