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Book reading set Aug. 14 at NYM Cultural Center

Author Bernice Koehler with some of the Shan children she met through her work with the refugees in Burma.

Bernice Koehler Johnson, originally from New York Mills, will present passages from her new book The Shan: Refugees Without a Camp, free of charge on Friday, Aug. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.

This compelling and hard to put down book chronicles Bernice's work with the Shan people of Burma who have been forced to flee to Thailand to avoid rape and genocide.

To enhance the cultural experience the Eagles Café will serve an authentic Burmese dinner, before the reading, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. with a one hour long documentary film shown at 6 p.m. to add information on what's happening in the region.

A quote from one reader pulled from the Amazon website reads, "Overall, the book is like a beautifully woven mosaic of a traveler's journal, a peacemaker's witness of injustice, a sojourner's poetry, an English teacher's memoir, and a soul-searcher's soliloquy. Most importantly, it is a voice for the voiceless, or maybe, it's more of an orchestra for the voiceless."

Raised on an area farm, Bernice has been escaping Minnesota winters for years by teaching English in countries like Mexico, Spain, Indonesia, Ecuador and Turkey. While in Thailand she learned of the plight of the Shan people and soon became their hero as she gave them skills and hope for better futures.

Her first person account of their struggles to survive puts a very human face to the Shan people and questions why the international community tolerates such atrocities.

For additional information check the website for Bernice's charitable organization:

You may also call the Center at 218-385-3339 or check out our website at