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.

Suitcase Stories Circle

Join our online community and access member-only videos, special events and resources.

The world is becoming more connected as people relocate to new cities – locally and internationally – and interact with individuals from different nationalities and cultures as neighbors, work colleagues, and fellow students in school. With this increased migration comes the need to nurture communities that are welcoming to newcomers and offer everyone a sense of belonging.  

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Suitcase Stories Conversation Series

Be part of an international audience of viewers and register for this unique virtual conversation.

We’re social distancing, AND spending time talking to some of our favorite Suitcase “tellers.” Join us! IINE’s Suitcase Stories program has featured over 200 storytellers since the program launched in 2017. Meet some of the participants and hear more about their backstories and perspectives on fostering inclusive communities.

View all upcoming events

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

– Boston audience member


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.

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

“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.