Meet Abdourrachid Abdoussamad Sow, also known as, Rachid or Ab.
Rachid is currently enrolled at Endicott College, where he is pursuing a BA in International Studies with a minor in Political Science.
Helping Rachid reach his dream of studying in the US and becoming a leader has been a focus for World Connection since 2012.
The story goes back to 2009 when Andrea Chitouras, Founder, and President of World Connection, met Rachid’s family through an unusual encounter in Mali and decided to help them.
Rachid’s father heard Andrea and her brother playing music in their house and stopped by to contemplate the rhythms and say hello before he was formally introduced by Moussa, a mutual friend of Andrea and the Sow family.
Later, when Andrea learned the dramatic story of the family and how they found themselves living in Mali, she knew she could not remain passive. Rachid’s family was living near a military camp in the Ivory Coast in 2002 when a sudden war broke out. While under fire, the family ran for their lives, losing everything they had including their home.
They then decided to go to Mali to seek refuge, but unfortunately, the move was difficult at best. The family lived through a dramatic change in their quality of life. Due to financial reasons, Rachid and his brothers had to drop out of school to work and support the family. Rachid did not want to stop his education, however. He enrolled in an Arabic program to learn about his religion, as that was the only education his family could afford.
A smart and easy going person, Rachid excelled in martial arts and had the dream of becoming an ambassador someday to bring about positive change. His dearest dream was to go back to school and take care of his family in the future. However, his path to realizing his dream was not going to be an easy one.
In 2012, after the second political war in the Ivory Coast, in which Rachid lost his grandfather, his uncle, and baby brother, his family had to go back to the Ivory Coast because hostilities against the Ivorian people in Mali got his family worried. Furthermore, his father who had an accident, slipping on the floor and breaking his left hip in three places, thought he would find convenient health care back in the Ivory Coast.
Meanwhile, Andrea went back to the US and shared Rachid’s story with her longtime friend Gary Magnant. Together, Gary and Andrea arranged for Rachid to receive a full scholarship to Endicott College provided that he passed the high school diploma and got a 79 on the “Test of English as a Foreign Language” (TOEFL).
Since Rachid did not speak English at the time, Andrea started tutoring him via emails, sending weekly writing assignments and quizzes. Most of the assignments Rachid would submit would come half in French, French being his first language. As time went by, with Andrea’s help, Rachid’s written English greatly improved. With the help of the grammar and vocabulary books she sent him, his spoken English got better. With Andrea’s guidance, Rachid learned the American academic practice of submitting assignments on time, which was not part of his culture.
In addition, he developed skills that allowed him to make connections at the library, the Department of International Affairs, and the Students Advising Center of the US Embassy in the Ivory Coast, where he worked with the student advisor on different English learning programs, poetry contests, and US education information sessions. His leadership skills made it possible for him to teach English at the American Corner, a platform designed to promote American English and culture, where he volunteered to give English classes from December 2014 to December 2016.
Rachid had to make up for seven years of missed education and get his Baccalaureate (BAC) in one year, which is the equivalent of the high school diploma. With World Connection’s financial support and Andrea’s tutoring, he successfully passed the exam and scored a 92 on the TOEFL in July 2016.
Two months later, he was selected by the US Embassy to be the interpreter for Wordsmith, a Baltimore-based Hip-Hop rapper who was on an international musical tour. Rachid spent one week traveling the country with the artist and his band, translating from English/French, French/English during the band’s workshops, radio broadcastings and went on stage with them during their concerts. After just two years of learning English, Rachid was ready to meet his dream.
Rachid has successfully matriculated at Endicott College since January 2017, where he had a wonderful first semester, impressing the faculty and board with his high GPA and leadership skills. Over the past seven months in the US, Rachid excelled in his studies, met and introduced Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela to an audience at Endicott College, became the Vice-President of the Intercultural Club at Endicott, and a Global Ambassador for the school.
Over the summer, Rachid conducted video-conference calls with the US Embassy in the Ivory Coast to serve as an advisor to college freshmen coming to the US in the Fall. He also got an Internship at the Investment Community Visibility (ICV), a company working toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. On Friday September 15th, he spoke at the Peace Day Global Citizenship ICV Youth Summit at the Headquarters of the UN in New York. He was applauded by an audience of seven hundred people for sharing his inspiring story and a message of peace. Rachid has started the Fall semester and hopes to achieve even higher academic and leadership performance.
World Connection is proud to introduce you to Abdourrachid Abdoussamad Sow, and is grateful to Andrea Chitouras for changing the life of this young man and turning him into a true leader!
Director, World Connection