Film Showing, Discussion for Nickel City Smiler Uncovers the Struggles Refugees Face

Warner Presents First in a Film Series on Immigrant and Refugee Experiences
A public showing of the film Nickel City Smiler will be offered through the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7:15 p.m. in Hoyt Auditorium on River Campus. The showing, which is the first in a film series exploring immigrant and refugee experiences that will air during the academic year, is free and open to the public.
Nickel City Smiler is a documentary film about refugee resettlement in Buffalo, N.Y. The film chronicles one brave Burmese family’s fight for survival and hope in the American Rust Belt. After fighting against the brutal military government, who attacked, tortured, raped and murdered thousands of the country’s ethnic minorities, and spending more than 20 years in the confinement of a refugee camp, the film captures the struggles that Smiler Greely and his family 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.

A panel discussion, moderated by Mary Jane Curry, associate professor who directs the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) education program at Warner, will follow the film, delving deeper into the themes and issues raised in Nickel City Smiler. Panelists will include: Mary Andrecolich-Diaz, principal of Rochester International Academy, a newcomer program that helps refugee students adjust to life in Rochester; Terri Orden, counselor at the Rochester International Academy; Miriam Ehtesham-Cating, ESOL teacher in the Rochester City School District; and Natalia Golub, MD/PhD student and president of Refugee Student Alliance, medical school chapter.
The documentary, which was released in 2010, will help raise awareness of the poverty and hardships that refugees face upon arrival to the United States.
“With the increase of refugees in the Rochester area and steady growth of immigrants in our schools, the new film series will bring the experiences of this growing student population to the attention of the community at large,” says Curry. “The first film showing and discussion for Nickel City Smiler will allow people to witness the lack of support for political refugees, who are settled in the U.S. by our government, and help them to develop a more nuanced understanding of the range of people in our immigrant communities here.”
The film series is supported by Project CELLS: Western New York Collaboration for English Language Learners Success, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, which aims to provide children who are learning English with access to high-quality instruction across academic subjects and prepare them for success beyond high school. Project CELLS supports scholarships for new and veteran teachers to earn TESOL certification and develops curriculum, particularly for refugee English language learners, and professional development activities, including training for all school personnel, to support student achievement in K-12 schools.
Additional film showings and discussions taking place throughout the 2012-13 academic year as part of the immigrant and refugee film series will include: Which Way Home on November 15; 9500 Liberty on February 7; and Childhood in Translation on March 28.
The film is closed caption and a sign language interpreter will be provided for the panel discussion. For other special accommodations or questions, please contact the Warner Academic Support Office at (585) 276-5405 or by e-mail at help@warner.rochester.edu. For more information on the Sept. 27 event, please visit www.warner.rochester.edu. To learn more about Nickel City Smiler, please visit http://www.nickelcitysmiler.com/.
About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform. 
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Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
585.275.0777; 585.278.6273 (cell)

Tags: Mary Jane Curry, Project CELLS, teaching and curriculum, TESOL