On Saturday, Amb. Lee Feinstein, dean of the Hamilton Lugar School, gave these remarks to graduates as part of a celebratory video for students and their families:
On behalf of the Hamilton Lugar School’s dedicated faculty and staff, congratulations graduates!
We couldn’t be prouder of the Bicentennial Class of 2020. You have grown up with our school. You are a class of pathfinders. You have been inspired by our school’s namesakes, the late Senator Richard Lugar and Congressman Lee Hamilton, gentle giants of American foreign policy. You excelled academically, and built a rich network of social organizations in our school and on campus. To raise awareness of the plight of global refugees, you organized Amal—named for the Arabic word for hope. You brought LINK, Liberty in North Korea, to campus. You filled our auditorium to capacity for our annual conference on America’s Role in the World. You cycled in the Little 500; performed at the music school, and made it into the Jeopardy! College finals. You had observer status at climate talks in Poland, and at UN Headquarters at the Commission on the Status of Women. You studied Arabic in Morocco, Mandarin in Nanjing and Taiwan, Russian in Kazakhstan, and Turkish in Azerbaijan. You put IU and HLS in the very top ranks of Boren Awardees and Fulbrighters.
In the past two months, we have all been challenged to navigate a new path in response to something we have not experienced before. It has not been easy, away from your friends and study routines and at a social distance when you deserve to be celebrated and celebrating together. Many of you were evacuated from overseas study or suspended internships in Washington.
As the Turkish novelist and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk wrote recently in The New York Times, this moment “reveals how unexpectedly similar our fragile lives and shared humanity really are.”
Congressman Hamilton said the other day: “I think the right way to look at [this] is that it presents us with an opportunity [and] . . . a test of our initiative and our ingenuity.”
Your four years in HLS have prepared you for this test. Your language prowess and area expertise give you confidence in your skills, and also teach humility and the importance of social solidarity.
One of our Near Eastern Languages & Cultures students, an accomplished performer on the region’s famous stringed instrument, the oud, had this to say: “At a time when fear grips the world and countries and regions are at risk of withdrawing within themselves, I believe it is ever more important to foster global and cultural understanding through language and music.”
Your studies of global and international trends have prepared you for a world where challenges do not respect national borders and where global cooperation is a precondition for progress. This moment is unprecedented in our history, but your education has prepared you for it.
You are ready for this challenge. Globally Ready.
I wish you health in mind, body, and spirit, and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on campus next year.
Until then, congratulations, and well done.