Even before the long-awaited Brookdale Community College debut of “Anne Frank: A History for Today,” local teachers used the exhibit to inspire students.
Dale Daniels, executive director of the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange), the organization bringing the exhibit to Monmouth County, said a January training session taught educators from 17 public and private schools how to use Anne Frank’s story to assist youngsters in grappling with “concepts of empathy, humility, hunger, and survival.” Many more schools were invited, but not all were able to take advantage of the training session, according to Chhange.
Students, ranging from fifth to 12th grades, created multidisciplinary projects that extended the reach of the wartime Frank story seven decades into the present where they could relate Anne’s experiences to the plight of today’s refugees and other contemporary atrocities. Numerous students expressed concern for the people in war-torn Syria, and many said they would be more mindful of anyone whose freedom is abridged, according to Daniels.
“The feedback from the teachers in our workshop was so moving” she said. “Teachers were excited to go back to their classrooms and encourage their students to create art projects that involve coping strategies, the human spirit, and the power of the written word.”
Although “The Diary of Anne Frank” contains the thoughts and experiences of a young, Jewish girl in Amsterdam, the memoir encompasses universal themes that the local students picked up on, Daniels said.
The works created in the participating schools will be displayed with the exhibit, on loan from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, a museum located in the building where the Frank family and others hid from the Nazis.
The two exhibits — “Anne Frank: A History for Today,” and the students’ “Through Their Eyes” efforts — will be on display from Sunday, April 2 through June 1. On that day only, the exhibits will be open to the public, free of charge, from 2-3:30 p.m.
“Through Their Eyes” marks the fourth time that Chhange has staged a student art installation, Daniels said. Previous exhibits shared students’ perspectives on racism, the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and the 20th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Visitors may choose a self-guided tour or ask for the aid of a docent. School groups can reserve a guided tour Monday through Thursday at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. All guided tours include a 25-minute documentary film about Anne Frank.