For Morgan Hoffman, Hamilton Lugar School junior and human rights advocate, there’s always room at the table.
Her story begins at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, where she witnessed something significant: international cooperation resolute in its mission to make a difference. For her, it was the best example of global engagement in action.
“Global engagement for me is when passionate people come together and use our differences as strengths to enact change,” she said.
Seeing representatives from all over the world not only overcoming linguistic, political, and cultural differences, but also promoting and enacting meaningful change left an indelible mark on Hoffman. It was there she understood that when one person takes action to make a difference in their community, in any sense of the term, it creates a ripple effect. This experience reaffirmed her belief that action rooted in compassion—even something as simple as holding the door for someone—can radiate outward and can shape the world in meaningful ways.
Originally from New Jersey, Hoffman came to the Hamilton Lugar School knowing she wanted to combine her passions for helping people and learning about world cultures. That’s why she’s pursuing a degree in International Studies with a concentration on Human Rights, a minor in Philosophy, and a Peace Corps Certificate. She is also a part of the Arabic Flagship, an innovative program that helps undergraduates reach professional-level language proficiency. The program culminates with a Capstone year in Morocco.
Now, as President of Seeking Refuge, a student group focusing on migration and refugee advocacy, Hoffman exemplifies the globally conscious and purposeful work being done by students at the Hamilton Lugar School.
Get involved and do as much as you can take on,” she says. “Talk to your classmates, your professors, and reach out to your community. Seek out the amazing opportunities available to you.”
Four years ago, Seeking Refuge, then known as Amal Outreach for Displaced People, launched at the Hamilton Lugar School amid the humanitarian catastrophe wrought by the Syrian civil war. Initially focused on the Arabic-speaking world, members saw the global implications of the migration crisis and expanded the group’s outlook.
Today, Seeking Refuge’s mission is to respond to the political, social, and all-too human components of migration. Thinking globally and acting locally, Seeking Refuge focuses on building a bridge between IU students and the larger Bloomington community through advocacy and education. It’s an element Hoffman believes is missing in other student-led organizations.
Judging by their recent initiatives, it is clear that Seeking Refuge sets a new standard of excellence for student organizations at Indiana University.
A few weeks ago, club secretary Natalia Lange, visited Kenya to donate children’s books to schools expanding English literacy program. Seeking Refuge plans to extend this initiative to South Sudan in coordination with the Peace Power South Sudan School. The group also organized an event for World Refugee Day at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, where they conducted outreach and connected with the Bloomington Refugee Support Network and other There, community-based advocacy organizations.
However, their newest and most exciting initiative is just on the horizon. This fall, Seeking Refuge will launch “Room at the Table,” a program designed specifically to connect refugee families in and around Bloomington to their neighbors over communal dinners.
Hoffman describes the initiative as an opportunity for people to learn and connect with one another across cultural and linguistic divides—critical work, Hoffman argues, amidst the rise of white nationalism in the United States. Hoffman believes that it if we are to combat bigotry and ignorance then we have to be able to come together—and what better way than over a meal?
We’re all people, we all have the same desire just to be loved, and have some form success, whatever that may be. Some of us who are more fortunate, we need to give back. It’s time we all come together.”
In addition to fostering tolerance and community through cultural exchanges, Room at the Table also allows for a great deal of language practice, for both host and guest families. There is no required level of language proficiency and Seeking Refuge will even arrange for translators as needed.
Hoffman is dedicated to the ideals of equity and humanitarianism, a dedication that transcends her intellectual life and informs her worldview. More to the point, she sees her work as her civic responsibility, one that will continue after her time here at Indiana University.
After graduation, Hoffman plans to join the Peace Corps before going on to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. Professionally, she aims to counsel trauma survivors, particularly refugees who are survivors of domestic violence.
When considering her legacy at the Hamilton Lugar School, Hoffman hopes to prove that we all have the ability to make a difference. You just have to start small and work your way up.
Interested in joining Seeking Refuge or learning more about their work? Reach out to Morgan Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org