EDITORIAL: Anne Frank Project offers insight on racism

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“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” Anne Frank once said, and that sentiment is something the Anne Frank Project echoes today.

Last week, national, community and school leaders of all ages engaged in activities and conversations that had the potential to change the world, all intensely focusing on bigotry, genocide, intolerance and racism. Speakers, art exhibits and concerts were held to urge participants to lead their communities in affecting change.

The ultimate goal of the project is to improve the human condition by educating participants about genocides and tragedies that have happened in the past, in an effort to prevent them from happening again.

The AFP transcends campus engagement, working locally with school-aged children through multiple projects including conflict resolution and workshops with Buffalo State’s theater department. Nationally, the project works on community engagement through speakers and workshops, and internationally it stretches as far as Rwanda.

It’s important for us as college students to reflect on a history of racism and genocide in a world where these problems are still so rampant, as we’ve seen recently with the attacks in Syria.

We need to examine what happened, help our fellow mankind recover, and understand the tragedies so that history can’t repeat itself. We can’t let future generations have the option to deny that these historical events took place, especially when we lived through them and have first-hand accounts to pass on.

Every year, we see the banners hung on campus, we read about the AFP, and we’re aware that the conference is taking place. However, we don’t always fill the sessions with curious students who are eager to learn and make a positive difference in the world.

Maybe it’s because there are multiple sessions taking place at the same time, so the crowds are scarce; maybe you didn’t get a chance to see any of the conference’s advertising; or maybe it’s a personal lack of enthusiasm and interest in the project.

We’d like to see more ownership of the project. This conference brings in speakers from all over the world. It’s a series of free events hosted on our campus and we’d like to see students have more pride in that.

One of the main goals of the conference is to remove the role of bystanders from any conflict. If every student vowed to take ownership, stand up for those who are being hurt, and get involved in the Anne Frank Project, we’d see a positive effect.

If you didn’t have the chance to be involved in the AFP, fear not — there are still more events to attend before next year’s conference.

“Anne Frank: A History for Today” is being held now through Oct. 6 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. The exhibit has pictures of Anne Frank and her family, alongside photos of historical events from the same time period to show how political decisions and individuals’ actions impacted families such as the Franks.

Also at the Burchfield Penney, there are three future opportunities to hear Holocaust survivors tell their stories: Today at 10:00 a.m., Sept. 25 at noon, and Sept. 27 at 10:00 a.m.

We encourage you to seize the opportunities to get involved as college students. We have a lot of say and prominent influence in society. We need to take advantage of that — we can’t be bystanders.

Do what our generation does best. Grab your phone or laptop, download the Anne Frank Project app or visit its Web site. Get in contact with the directors and see how you can help.

Grab your families, friends, roommates, suite mates, classmates, team members, and fellow student organization members to get out there and get involved.

We need to utilize our actions and our voices, just like Anne Frank did, to change the world.

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