About Us

Vision & Missions

The primary goals of the Refugees Stories are to share the stories of millions of globally displaced populations ("refugees") around the world through domestic and international partnerships and community-based programs. Our missions are threefold as in the following:

  • To document and record the stories of refugees and their experiences of forced migration;
  • To share the collected stories of refugees in various formats such as storytelling events, exhibits, public education, research, reports, books, etc.; and
  • To promote social justice and equity for refugees around the world through partnerships with other organizations.

As of September 2019, legal incorporation/registration for our organization is underway. Updates on our exemption status will be posted here.


The roots of the Refugees Stories were founded when Seyeon Hwang, then a graduate student, and Basma Alawee, a refugee-turned-activist, met in Jacksonville, Florida, to work on a storytelling project in 2018. They agreed on the need for a nonprofit organization that focuses on the collection and sharing of refugees' stories around the world and have been working together ever since.


Seyeon Hwang

Coming from Seoul, Korea, Seyeon has been working closely with and researching refugee communities across the U.S. and Europe. Her most recent project was with the the refugees who came to Jacksonville, Florida, for resettlement between 1999 and 2017, which is also a part of her doctoral research. She has taught at the University of Florida (UF) and continues to teach college students about cities, justice, citizenship, forced migration, and globalization as she finishes her doctoral program in Urban & Regional Planning at UF. She is a strong advocate for justice and looks forward to working with various other domestic and overseas nonprofits.

E-mail: hseyeon@ufl.edu

Basma Alawee

Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, Basma came to the U.S. with her husband as a refugee in 2010, leaving behind her career as a materials engineer with the Ministry of Oil within the Government of Iraq. As a refugee and activist, her stories and activism have been featured in the media. Most recently she was the recipient of the OneJax Humanitarian Award in 2019. She was also elected the Florida delegate for the UNHCR Refugee Congress and is a board member of USAHello (formerly, Refugee Center Online) and many other nonprofits. Currently, she is the Florida Refugee Organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

E-mail: alaweebasma@gmail.com