Boston, MA- World Music/CRASHarts and The International Institute of New England (IINE) will present a live performance of Suitcase Stories® on Friday, February 1, 8pm at the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville. Tickets are $28, reserved seating. For tickets and information call World Music/CRASHarts at 617-876-4275 or buy online at

Suitcase Stories® features foreign- and US-born residents sharing powerful and inspiring stories of refugee and immigrant life. Featured nationally on PBS, Suitcase Stories® exposes the complexity of immigrant experiences through personal narrative. Part of the proceeds support critical programming for local refugees and immigrants.

The performance uses the powerful theatrical format of storytelling to highlight immigration-related tales of real-life experience. Stories will be presented by refugees, immigrants, and U.S.-born storytellers, some of whom will be telling their peresonal stories for the first time on stage.

The creator, director, and curator of Suitcase Stories Cheryl Hamilton, explains, “the genesis of Suitcase Stories® came from a desire to amplify the voices of immigrants and refugees. However, the themes related to family, love, and perseverance, for example, transcend nationality and demonstrate how we are all connected and share similar life experiences.”

Since it was launched in 2017, more than 3,000 people have seen a live performance of Suitcase Stories® and thousands more watched a taped episode on PBS television. The Suitcase Stories® series provides a way for a community to dig beneath the headlines, exposes audiences to the complexity of immigration issues, and directly impacts life-changing support services for immigrants and refugees.

The Storytellers

Suitcase Stories® will feature eight storytellers from eight different countries, including: El Salvador, Poland, England, the Dominican Republic, and Ghana.

Ewa Chrusciel, a storyteller from Poland, is a poet, teacher, and translator. She has three books of poems in English: Of Annunciations, Contraband of Hoopoe, and Strata, as well as three books in Polish: Tobołek, Sopiłki, and Furkot. Her newest book, Of Annunciations, is a series of prayers, laments, and lullabies addressing our current migration crises. Chrusciel also translated books by Jack London, Joseph Conrad, and I.B. Singer, as well as poems by Jorie Graham, Kazim Ali, and other American poets into Polish. She is an Associate Professor of Humanities at Colby-Sawyer College.

Reem Niayzi, a storyteller from Iraq, was resettled with her family as refugees by the International Institute to Lowell, MA in 2012 after fleeing persecution in her home. Niayzi‘s former work as a journalist speaking out on women’s rights in Iraq led to her being targeted, and shot, by religious militants there. Her subsequent recovery and move to the U.S. makes for a compelling story of resilience. After securing her green card last year, Niayzi  was finally able to visit loved ones in Baghdad, only to be forbidden from returning to the U.S. because of the federal travel ban. She has since returned to Massachusetts and is studying at Middlesex Community College.

Presented in association with The International Institute of New England. Tickets can be purchased online:

About World Music/CRASHarts

World Music/CRASHarts is a nonprofit organization that presents an adventurous mix of global, folk, jazz, and indie music along with contemporary and world dance in a series of concerts, events, and educational programs in greater Boston. It strives to offer audiences an opportunity to share in many different artistic performances and seeks to foster an atmosphere of cultural discovery. For 25 years, World Music/CRASHarts has answered a need for cultural programming in greater Boston that reflects today’s global community.

About The International Institute of New England

The International Institute of New England (IINE) has been serving immigrants and refugees since 1918. More than hundred years later, the nonprofit organization now operates resettlement, education, job training, and legal services programs in Boston and Lowell, MA, and Manchester, NH for nearly 2,000 refugees and immigrants from 70 countries.  Suitcase Stories® is one way IINE educates the public about the value new Americans bring to New England and the country.