As busy students hurried across the Buffalo State College campus last Wednesday, a stream of people followed bright orange signs all over the campus, leading them to the Warren Enters Theatre, where students and community members waited for the opening ceremony of the Anne Frank Project.
It was the start of a three-day event that included events from art exhibitions to genocide survivors' stories.
Via a live video stream, attendees were able to see straight into Rwanda, where, in another room across the globe, more people sat waiting to hear the speakers and performers, discussing and sharing beliefs on genocide, violence, bystanders and hope. More than 45 sessions would follow, many being broadcast live onto the Web where they could reach people, spreading the legacy of Anne Frank, a girl who had a dream.
The Anne Frank Project celebrates our generation. This year's theme is "Our Shared Humanity." During the opening ceremony, the director of the project, Drew Kahn, explained that according to the Human Genome Project, all of us are made up of 99 percent of the same thing -- whether it's Lady Gaga, Kobe Bryant, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks or Adolf Hitler. Kahn went on to explain that the things we share make it so there is no "them," but only "us" -- shared humanity.
During the three days of the Anne Frank Project at Buffalo State, various people shared their stories. Among them were Carl Wilkens, an American who chose to remain in Rwanda during the genocide and author of the book "I'm Not Leaving"; Sophia Veffer, a Holocaust survivor who has dedicated her life to education; and Gary Wolfe, an artist who uses his work for social change.
In Rwanda, Hope Azeda, a leading figure in Rwandan theater and the Mashirika Creative and Performing Arts Group, spoke and performed over the live video stream.
As Anne Frank said, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
Rainah Umlauf is a junior at Springville-Griffith Institute.