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Immigrant storytellers share their experiences about this school year

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Immigrant Advancement

Immigrant students and educators reflect on the pandemic’s impact on their education and their lives

BOSTON - To celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month and the end of the 2020-2021 school year, the City of Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) and the International Institute of New England (IINE) will host a special storytelling event. On June 3, immigrant students and educators will share their experiences with remote learning and reflect on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on their educational journey. 

Suitcase Stories: Reflections from the School Year is from 7:00-8:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 3. The free, virtual event will be on Zoom and Facebook Live. Those interested in attending can register by visiting: boston.gov/my-immigrant-story. 

“This school year was deeply complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s important to hear from our immigrant communities,” said Mayor Kim Janey. “We need to share our stories. We need to empower each generation to be more secure, more equitable, and more just than the last.” 

Suitcase Stories, IINE’s signature program, provides a unique way for communities to explore migration through the art of storytelling and foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment for newcomers in neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. This is the second event hosted by MOIA and IINE. 

“I came to the U.S. when I was 9 years old and it took years to settle in, but even then, sometimes I still felt like an outsider,” said MOIA Director Yusufi Vali. “That’s why events like this are so important to me—to break down barriers and really understand each other’s experiences.” 

The event will feature storytellers from countries including Vietnam, Bahrain, El Salvador, and Colombia. Expected storytellers include My Nguyen, an 11th grader at the Boston International Newcomers Academy; Dania Vazquez, Head of School at the Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain; Sixto Arevalo, a student from Year Up; Noora Lori, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University; and Liliana Avendaño, founding member and facilitator with the Center for Cooperative Development and Solidarity in East Boston. 

“The stories that will be shared during this event show the varying ways the pandemic has shaped education,” said Jeff Thielman, IINE President and CEO. “The resiliency of Boston’s teachers and students and the immigrant community is evident every day. We’re thrilled to be partnering with MOIA once again to share these important stories.” 

About the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement 

The Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) strives to strengthen the ability of immigrants to fully and equitably participate in economic, civic, social, and cultural life in Boston. MOIA also promotes the recognition and public understanding of the contributions of immigrants to the City. To learn more, visit boston.gov/immigrants. 

About International Institute of New England 

Suitcase Stories is a signature program of the International Institute of New England (IINE). The International Institute of New England (IINE) has been serving immigrants and refugees since 1918. More than 100 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. www.iine.org 

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