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TP/SS Student Spotlight: Azigza Hussen

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Category: Features

Published: Mar 9 2018 5:23AM

Each month during the fall and spring semesters, we select a student to be part of the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus Student Spotlight series. These students demonstrate a strong commitment to both their education and their community, and exemplify how MC empowers its students to change their lives. You can see student spotlights on the campus webpage here:

This month, meet Azigza Hussen. Mr. Hussen's short film, Yewub Dar, will be screened at the Washington, DC International Film Festival in April where it is nominated for "Best Short." Below, he tells his incredible story, talks about the film, and answers the spotlight questionnaire.

During the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1989, I was born in Asmara, Eritrea. My mother was a sixteen-year-old who earned her living by cooking for the soldiers. My father was a nineteen-year-old who was a soldier and worked as a servant to one of the generals. Because my parents' side lost the war, they were forced to flee. They became separated from each other. They were in the desert for two weeks without food or water. My mom carried me in her arms. Eventually, she gave up and decided to leave me with one of the soldiers who was around. Thanks to him, I survived. After ten years, I got to meet my father again. I was 11 when he brought me to Sweden where he had made a life for himself. I learned Swedish, made friends, and I started to realize I wanted to be a filmmaker.

After a year of high school, I started experimenting with film. I documented my first trip to Ethiopia and the search for my mother, whom I hadn't seen in sixteen years. The material ended up as my first documentary film Back to Mama. The film made me realize the power of visual media, and that's when I decided to become a filmmaker. While still in high school I was approached by the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts (STDH), who encouraged me to apply. Of the 280 candidates, I was one of the twelve who were admitted. With the help of the head master of the high school, I had the opportunity to finish my senior year while at STDH. Unfortunately, I never finished because I had to work, and my mother became very ill. I regret not finishing, but I'm working on my education now.

The movie I am nominated for is about Lake Tana. It is the largest lake in Ethiopia and the second largest in Africa. Lake Tana is also the beginning of Nile River. In addition, Lake Tana is recognized by the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. However, recently this lake has been covered by water hyacinth, which is an aggressive invasive weed that grows on the surface of the water. This invasive weed has caused the fish to die and the water level to decrease. As a result, many farmers and fisherman who depended on the fish had to move to the city. When I first decided to do a short movie about this problem, I did some research and wrote a script. This was last fall. When I was on winter break, I traveled to Ethiopia and started to work on the movie. The main reason I wanted to do this movie is because I wanted to do something that can bring awareness to the people who really care about Lake Tana. I also wanted to make the movie because I wanted to submit it to film festivals so that I could connect with people who have the same interests as me.

1. What is your major?

My major is Computer science, but I'm also considering Communications.

2. When do you intend to graduate and/or transfer?

Hopefully, I am going to transfer to a university in 2020.

3. What do you like most about Montgomery College?

I really like the professors I have, and I also like the school environment and the diversity of students from different countries.

4. What are some of your hobbies?

I have a few hobbies, such as watching movies, making movies, and discussing films. Most of my hobbies are related to movies.

5. What would be your ideal dream vacation?

I would like to travel to Bora Bora with my girlfriend.

6. What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

I think I would buy a house for my mother in Ethiopia.

7. What's your favorite childhood memory?

Playing soccer with my friends and coming home late.

8. What was the last movie you watched?

The Black Panther. Wakanda forever! Hehe.

9. What was the last sport or music concert event you attended?

I don't remember. I only see both sport and music concerts on TV. I like watching soccer on TV.

10. What would be your dream job?

My dream job is to be one of the best film directors ever.

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What a remarkable young man! After so many journeys to be still making his way toward illuminating situations of concern through film and thus galvanizing people to influence their circumstances. Thank you so much for posting this short bio. I wish him every success! Laura White, CPOD/ELITE

Posted by: Laura White, 3/13/2018 9:59:18 AM


What an incredible story about a very brave and creative young man! I hope he achieves his dream of becoming a filmmaker, and a famous one at that.
This just shows us that we often have no idea what our students have been through-sometimes incredible hardships. It also demonstrates the strength of the human spirit, as much of a cliché as that is.
Karissa Silver
Counseling, Rockville

Posted by: Karissa Silver, 3/9/2018 1:46:35 PM

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