Cheryl Hamilton

Thank you for joining our Suitcase Stories Circle! 

At the International Institute of New England, we say that everyone has a ‘suitcase story,’ whether you are an immigrant who moved to the United States or you are a relative, friend or colleague of someone born in another country or from a different culture...maybe you traveled abroad and had your life transformed because of the experience.   Whatever your story, we believe that sharing these moments with neighbors introduces us all to new voices and brings communities closer together.  

By becoming a SSC member, you’ve shown that you see the value in stories. Thank you. You now have gained access to a range of materials that we hope will enhance your view, expose you to new perspectives, and encourage you to share your own experiences!
Please take some time to explore the resources shared here, and plan to return often for new content and to participate in special member-only circle events.   Thanks for being part of our story 

Cheryl Hamilton
Suitcase Stories Director 

Join one of our upcoming online events!

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

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.

The Video Vault

Enjoy a selection of Suitcase Stories and other videos.
New videos added monthly.

  • Biar’s story  Biar Kon recalls how he came to learn what it means to be a refugee.

Featured Storytellers

More than 200 people have shared a suitcase story publicly.
Discover some of our local voices.

Biar Kon

Biar Kon is a former refugee from Sudan. He and his family fled their homeland in 1993. For the next two decades, Biar lived in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. In 2015, he resettled to Boston and eventually moved to Lowell, MA. Biar is a college student pursuing a degree in International Business. In 2019, IINE recognized Biar as one of the honorees at the organization’s 100th anniversary celebration. Biar joined the Suitcase Stories cast in 2018 and also works as a Somali and Swahili interpreter for the organization.  

Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan is the winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for Nonfiction for The Body Papers, a memoir about trauma, illness, and immigration as told through personal and official documentation. Her book has received acclaim from the New York Times and other notable press. She teaches writing at Brandeis University and is a longtime member of Grub Street creative writing center. As a Fulbright Scholar, Grace returned her birthplace, the Philippines, for several months, the longest time she spent there since leaving at age three. Grace first performed with Suitcase Stories in 2017.  

Tell Your Story

Suitcase Stories performers include a combination of professional storytellers and people new to the craft. For many, Suitcase Stories is her or his first time sharing the story in front of a live audience and can be a transformative experience. Each storytellers receives individual coaching and different opportunities to participate from public shows to school assembles.

To learn more, contact Cheryl Hamilton at chamilton@iine.org.

Storytelling Resources


  • What’s in Your Suitcase?  – a conversation guide to prompt a storytelling conversation Download here
  • Biar’s Story Illustration  – a visual take on one of Biar Kon’s stories  Download here
  • Suitcase Stories Programs  – an overview of the available customized Suitcase Stories programs  Download here