In April, four Guild staff shared their experiences as immigrants to the United States in Suitcase Stories: Voices of the Guild. One of those storytellers is Mustapha Abdulai, who currently works at The Guild as the Director of Adult Residential Services. We recently caught up with Mustapha to learn more about his background.

Mustapha Abdulai was born and raised in Ghana, a country in West Africa. He grew up and completed his bachelor’s and master’s degree at the University of Ghana before coming to the United States to pursue another master’s program at Brandeis University. While at Brandeis, he became inspired to work in the human services sector after starting as an overnight residential counselor. In his current role as the director of The Guild’s 11 adult residences, he works with families and fellow Guild employees to ensure our individuals served are provided with quality, personalized support. Mustapha speaks three different ethnic dialects from Ghana (Twi, Ga, and Ga-Adangbe) and believes in the importance of cross-cultural relations, cultural adaptations and diversity. He draws upon a wealth of experience from working with both student-age and adult residents.

Q: What was life like growing up like in your country?

Growing up at the barracks, my life was shaped by my military family values, social connections, and the residential school I attended. I was raised by an entire village, and my actions or inactions were tied to the values of the community. We used to say, “I am because we are.”

Q: How did storytelling shape your life?

Storytelling was part of my everyday language in both formal and informal settings. Telling stories was a way of life that shaped my cultural ethos and could widen or narrow my cultural lens. I was an embodiment of the stories told and lived life through them.

Q: Tell us about your work at The Guild.

As the director of adult programs, I work directly with families and fellow Guild employees with the goal of ensuring that our individuals are provided with quality, personalized care and a continuum of support. I approach my work with high esteem to serve, empower and lead with a sense of vision to produce desired outcomes.

Q: Do you feel storytelling has impacted your work at The Guild and if so, how?

My work at the Guild is a story in itself given that I started as an overnight residential counselor in 2011 and then became a Day Residential Assistant, Assistant Manager, Manager, Associate Director and now the Director of Adult Residential Services. In the course of this pandemic, the importance of storytelling has brought the Guild population (both staff and individuals) closer together, especially during lockdowns and general quarantines. For us at the Guild, it is important that individuals have their voices heard in whatever way that works for them. Assistive technology and other storytelling techniques have impacted our work greatly. In a nutshell, stories can help form bonds and create connections between people.