What is Suitcase Stories?

Suitcase Stories® is a signature program of the International Institute of New England. It raises the profile of refugees and immigrants while strengthening community through the art of storytelling.

Launched in 2017, Suitcase Stories began as a traveling live performance series featuring foreign and U.S.-born residents sharing powerful refugee and immigrant stories. To date, more than 3,000 people have enjoyed a mainstage performance and thousands more have watched a taped episode on PBS television. The response from those audience members spoke of how the performance challenged and expanded their perceptions of refugees and immigrants.

In 2018, Suitcase Stories began an expansion to bring our special brand of programs to community partners like schools, colleges, faith communities, and businesses.

“Participating in Suitcase Stories was a memorable experience because it was the first time I have shared my story on stage with other refugees and immigrants to make our voices heard, and to be an advocate for the voiceless.”

– Biar Kon, IINE client and former Sudanese refugee.

Tell your 2020 Story!
Suitcase Stories seeks Boston stories

The International Institute of New England (IINE) and the City of Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) seek immigrants who live, work or study in Boston for a special virtual performance of Suitcase Stories scheduled for January 14, 2021. 

2020 has been a historic and challenging year for everyone, and especially immigrants and refugees. Share a personal story of how the events of 2020 impacted your life. No storytelling experience is required. Professionals from IINE provide coaching to all storytellers. The stories will be recorded in advance of the event with a live Q&A.

Click to complete an interest form to learn more

Suitcase Stories at Your House Show 1

November 21 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Suitcase Stories Events

Upcoming Virtual Suitcase Stories Events

Despite social distancing, Suitcase Stories continues online! Join our upcoming virtual events to hear new stories from new voices from throughout New England. Many virtual events include live talk-backs where you can hear more about the storytellers’ backstories and perspectives on fostering inclusive communities.

View all upcoming events


IINE offers a suite of “Suitcase” programming tailored for partners including schools, community groups, and businesses.  Biogen, EY,  Curry College, Boston College, Boston University, and Lowell Public Schools have welcomed our storytellers and trainers to their training rooms, classrooms, and lecture halls. Community groups from Cape Cod to the seacoast of New Hampshire have hosted Suitcase Stories programs in libraries, temples, churches, and community centers.

  • Suitcase Stories Live – IINE’s signature performance features professional and emerging storytellers for audiences of 250+ guests.
  • Suitcase Stories Community Showcases – smaller custom shows produced in partnership with schools, universities, faith institutions, local partners and businesses. These shows include a combination of feature Suitcase storytellers and local voices.
  • Suitcase Stories Unpacked – a storytelling workshop focused on crafting personal immigration-related stories. The program teaches the art of storytelling while strengthening relationships between local residents of diverse backgrounds.
  • Suitcase Stories Podcast – Online episodes where guests unpack the refugee and immigrant experience through conversation and storytelling.

To hear the stories of immigrants at all stages of their assimilation
was eye-opening and heartwarming.

– Boston audience member

View past stories

About our Storytellers

Suitcase Stories performers include a combination of professional storytellers and people new to the craft. For many storytellers, Suitcase Stories is his or her first time sharing the story in front of a live audience and can be a transformative experience.

Past storytellers have traveled to the U.S. from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Haiti, Korea, Myanmar, Poland, Somalia, Sudan, and many other countries. Storytellers also include people born in the United States to reinforce how immigration is a subject that affects all of us.

To be considered as a storyteller,
contact Director Cheryl Hamilton at chamilton@iine.org