Friday Night Program: Screening of “Nickel City Smiler”

Join fellow conference attendees on the evening of Friday, November 8 at 6:30 p.m. for a screening of the documentary “Nickel City Smiler.”   Popcorn and refreshments will be served during this movie night program!  After the screening, conference attendees will be able to participate in a discussion about advocacy and the refugee experience.  We hope to see you there!  Please see the description below from the film’s creators to learn more about the film:

Nickel City Smiler chronicles a refugee’s fight for survival and hope in the American rustbelt.

In Burma, Smiler Greely fought against the brutal military government, who attacked, tortured, raped and murdered thousands of the country’s ethnic minorities.  After spending more than 20 years in the confinement of a refugee camp, Smiler and his family were selected for resettlement in the United States and assigned to live in Buffalo, New York.

Nickel City Smiler documents the struggles Smiler’s family and the refugee community encounter on the streets of one of America’s poorest cities.  Forced to fight against poverty, violence and bureaucracy, Smiler battles for the hope and hearts of his people.

About Sheryl Fried:

After a successful and satisfying career in an unrelated field, Sheryl followed her passion for teaching English to immigrants and refugees by embarking on a second career in Adult Basic Education. For five years ending August of 2013, Sheryl was the Education Program Manager at MORE, a nonprofit community-based organization located in St. Paul and a member of the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium. Due to the demographics of its neighborhood and its collaboration with the nearby Karen Organization of Minnesota, approximately 90% of MORE’s 400 enrolled learners in 2013 were Karen refugees who arrived in the U.S. after spending years in Thai refugee camps. Their literacy levels varied from non-literate to 10th grade, but the vast majority who enrolled in MORE’s education program had little to no prior formal education.


Barriers to learning are many, including past and present experiences of trauma, poverty and its related financial and familial stressors, moving quickly into low skilled jobs of short duration that result in bursts of classroom attendance, lack of child care for the non-working spouse, being older in age, and lack of safe and convenient transportation. Despite these barriers, which are in no way unique to the Karen community, progress is made day by day and learner by learner through the hard work of skilled, dedicated and compassionate teachers and volunteers.


Sheryl is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts, has received Hamline University’s Certificate for Teachers of Adult ESL, and is working toward Hamline University’s M.A. in English as a Second Language.