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The Remarkable Story of Sosina Wogayehu: the First NICA Alum to Receive an Order of Australia Medal

The first NICA heard of Sosina Wogayehu was when she fronted up to the 1999 NICA Training Project auditions without an application or introduction. She was so keen to be included, she gave her name to the then Head of Circus and told him she wasn’t prepared, but she could “show them something that I can do.”

Much like her life before and thereafter, it was something quite remarkable. Sosina started her circus career at the age of six, supporting her studies by selling cigarettes on the streets of Addis Ababa. She was already a well-travelled circus performer by her early teens; touring the world with Circus Ethiopia. Needless to say, on that day of NICA auditions, she stunned the judges and entered her first year at NICA in 2000.

We heard the latest in Sosina’s considerable achievements last weekend, on Saturday 26 January, when she was announced as a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the performing arts as an entertainer. This is the first time a NICA alumna has achieved this major milestone.

Among Sosina’s achievements are: her work running Gamo Circus School of Ethiopia and its Australian arm, Gamo Circus Inc. Australia; performing and sitting on the board for Circus Oz; managing multiple booking agencies (AfroOz Entertainment, Ethio Circus Entertainment), and; supporting and managing young Ethiopian circus artists to gain work around the world in order to assist themselves and their families.

Of the Award, Sosina says: “I am a very proud Ethiopian Australian. And for Australia to recognise my work – I feel very honoured. I am grateful because I have had wonderful mentors that helped me to become the person I am today.”

These mentors include the multicultural training and teaching staff at NICA – hailing from a variety of backgrounds and contributing to Sosina’s global perspective on circus. Sosina remembers NICA fondly as her “dream home” due to its mission to create this multicultural melting pot, by integrating circus styles unique to different countries around the globe.

 “One of my teachers was Mr Jing Jing,” recalls Sosina.

“One day he called me over and passed me a small coin. I looked at it and it was from the King of Ethiopia! (Imperial Hile Selase). I was shocked and I ask where he found it and he said he performed for the King of Ethiopia when he was 13 years old. I was blown away by this story.”

Now that she is firmly in the mentor role herself, what’s next for Sosina? Well to start, her current primary goal is building a bridge between Ethiopia and Australia though Arts, Culture and Education. She’s also considering a Masters of Cultural Management. Commencing in 2019 though, she will be working on a new initiative linking Ethiopia and Australia called Model Citizens.

We congratulate Sosina for her OAM and for her upcoming work. NICA is extremely proud and thrilled to be a part of her story. Make sure you follow Sosina’s circus school on Facebook to stay in touch with her work.

READ MORE: Model Citizens – Global Educational Tour 2019

Devised and directed by Sosina Wogayehu, this will be a new summer school program providing unique opportunities for talented Ethiopian young people aged between 14 and 16.

Each year 20 places will be available for outstanding students in grades 8-10 to enrol in the Model Citizens program. The selected students will take classes where they will learn traditional and modern dance, painting, writing and other creative skills. In developing their creativity they will also develop confidence and open their eyes to the possibilities of what they can achieve in life.

The program will include a study tour to Australia in which the students will visit universities, creative arts spaces and other leading cultural venues, providing valuable international experience and perspectives to inspire and help develop their future careers.

Article added 01 Feb 2019

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