Yousef Assabahi – 2017 Recipient

Major: Film
Degree: B.A.
School: UCLA
Ghulam and Arifa Azad Family 



Message to Supporters: My name is Yousef Assabahi, a Yemeni-American aspiring filmmaker who strives to tell stories of forgotten and vulnerable people. I am a rising senior (4thyear) student at the School of Theater, Film, and Television, UCLA. I am writing this note to express my deepest gratitude for your generosity.

On a neither cold nor hot night of March, 2011, I was standing next to a tent in the “Change Square”. The Arab Spring was flourishing, and so did young Yemenis. Next to me sat a man in his forties, another in his mid-twenties, and one like my age, 16, and there were tens of groups like ours. Stories of dreams, desires, pain, broken men, and scattered families were circulating. “Who’s going to tell these stories?” I asked myself. Since then, it has been my desire to become a storyteller; to tell the stories of human relationships both with themselves and with fate; stories of people in quest of identities, who have multiple homes, yet they feel alienated, and the stories of oppressed humans.

My work, more importantly, aims to influence public opinion and break stereotypes. Both as a storyteller, and a social activist, I have been working on bringing a conversation to the table about political and social issues. In my school, most of my work and research has been about Middle Eastern-American relations, state of Muslims in America, and, particularly, those who feel lost and vulnerable.

As I mentioned above, I am going into my senior year. As a Directing student, my thesis project should be a short film, which in Los Angeles can be very expensive.  Along with the high cost of studying at UCLA, I did not know how I will fund the project. Thanks to you, the support provided by this award is enormous, and beyond helpful… it is encouraging and inspiring!  No words are capable of expressing how grateful I am for receiving this award.

Bio: Yousef Assabahi is a film student pursuing directing at the School of Theater, Film, and Television, UCLA. Born in Yemen, and living in America, Yousef seeks to understand the human’s relationship with themselves, home, exile, and with others through storytelling. Most importantly, he strives to tell stories that explore the lives of Muslim individuals, stories that do not merely break stereotypes, but transcends the cultural chains; simply resisting both. Yousef is also a social activist. He served as a vice president for the American Association of Yemeni Students and Professionals(AAYSP) for two years. He was the Youth Representative and Facilitator at the International Education And Resources Network(iEARN) for three years, as he attended the Network’s annual conferences in Qatar, and Argentina. In Yemen, Yousef was an activist in the Yemeni Revolution during the Arab Spring. He wrote for news, and organized protests and riots. Yousef desires—through storytelling—to bridge the American-Middle Eastern relations in order to bring stability to that region.

Areas of Interest:
Storytelling and Social Change

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