Cheryl Hamilton is the Director of the International Institute of New England’s Suitcase Stories program. Since graduating from college, Cheryl has devoted her career to advancing refugee resettlement and immigrant integration. She is also a storyteller. In 2017, she created the Suitcase Stories program to encourage people to share stories about how migration has impacted their lives. In just a few years, over 10,000 people have attended a Suitcase Story performance or showcase. As you listen to her story, consider what you think she hopes people will take away from hearing stories about migration?
- Cheryl Hamilton is not an immigrant, yet she believes that telling immigrant stories is important “more important than ever.” Why does she say that? Do you agree with her? How do you explain the popularity and growth of the Suitcase Stories program with adults and students, foreign-born audiences and people born in the United States?
- Why do humans respond to stories? Historian Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens: A History of Human Kind writes, “Sapiens rule the world, because we are the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers. We can create mass cooperation networks, in which thousands and millions of complete strangers work together towards common goals. . . . The real difference between us and chimpanzees is the mysterious glue that enables millions of humans to cooperate effectively…This mysterious glue is made of stories, not genes.” How does Hamilton describe the impact of telling a story impact both the storyteller and the listener?
- Suitcase Stories features many im/migrants in their storytelling events, it also encourages others who have been impacted by migration to share their stories. What might be learn from non-immigrants about migration? Do you think their stories are important?
- View the Suitcase Stories website to listed to a few of the storytelling performances and consider using using the three thinking routines below to guide reflection, analysis, and discussion:
- If someone asked to to evaluate the impact of the Suitcase Stories program, what would you look for?
- A good way to follow up listening to stories about migration is to share our own. Were have developed an app and an interviewing protocol to encourage respectful sharing of our own migration stories. Follow this link for more information.