Shereen Ragheb

This spring, the Corcoran’s photojournalism students are highlighting students from different programs to document their lives and work across campus. We recently visited Shereen Ragheb (BFA in Photojournalism ‘22) in her studio.

The question, “What are you?” is one I’ve been asked countless times. As a child, I would eagerly answer, “Half-Filipino, half-Egyptian, but I was born in the U.S.” From an early age I was taught to introduce myself with my ethnicities first to show pride in my cultural heritage. I always made a point to say that I was American so that people never questioned whether I belonged.

Raised in a predominantly white area in the American South, it was obvious to me that I looked different from my peers. My background made me feel unique, but as I grew older, it became a point of isolation amplifying an internal conflict with my multicultural identity. This stems from a sense of distance from my cultural inheritance, leading me to believe I wasn’t Filipino enough, or Egyptian enough, or American enough.

In making this work, I’ve realized that I don’t have to conform to external cultural expectations to be enough. I can identify with different parts of my cultures, embracing all the facets that come with it. “I Was Born A Foreigner” examines my multicultural experience through familial bonds and memory to address the complexities of navigating a layered identity.