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 Muyani Kasune, who currently works at The Guild as a Residential Program Manager. We recently caught up with Muyani to learn more about his background.
Muyani was born to a large family in Zambia, a country in East Africa. He grew up and completed his high school education in Lusaka before migrating to the United States. He graduated from Salem State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work after he got inspired by local volunteers and charities in human services. He is married and a proud father of three children. He strives to balance and teach his ethnic cultures to his children through music, food, and storytelling. Aside from English, he speaks five different languages/ethnic dialects from Zambia (Lenje, Lamba, Tonga, Bemba, Nyanja).
Q. What was life like growing up in your country?
Muyani: I lived both in the city and the countryside, but it’s the countryside that had more impact on me in terms of its simplicity, community bond, and survival, since everything required thinking outside the box.
Q. Tell us about your work at The Guild.
Muyani: I work with an amazing adult population that astonishes us every day in terms of what they are able to learn, do, and achieve. As the program manager, I’m grateful to the staff at Billerica House and The Guild for improving the individuals’ milieu through advocacy and innovation to service delivery.
Q. How did storytelling shape your life?
Muyani: Storytelling was always a part of my growing up. Stories were told in oral form, through songs, traditional dance, and idioms. The stories conveyed social contracts, moral conundrums and expectations, cultural practices or beliefs.
Q. Do you feel storytelling has impacted your work at The Guild?
Muyani: It has and the support from coworkers, parents, and others that heard it has been humbling. Someone asked me what my story meant, and I thought it was about the “kindness of strangers” or “getting lost in a big city.” But they said it was about resilience - having an unyielding and tenuous spirit. This made me realize that stories (mine, yours, everyone’s) are relatable on an emotional level. Even though the listener may not have experienced the event, they can feel it and may explain it better! To me, that means we have more in common than we may realize.
Watch Muyani's Suitcase Story: