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The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect (AFC), in partnership with the Holocaust & Genocide Studies program at Stockton University, New Jersey, will launch its pilot Peer Guide Training Program through the exhibit “Anne Frank: A History for Today” at three high schools in Atlantic and Cape May counties this spring, following a public exhibition February 9-22 at Stockton University.

Anne Frank wrote, “Even if people are still very young, they shouldn’t be prevented from saying what they think.”

Every day, young voices call out prejudice and demand a call to action. Through peer education, the AFC teaches college and high school students how to share the story and legacy of Anne Frank with other young people, recognizing that their lives are part of a continuing human story, and empowering them to become ambassadors of change.

“The peer guide program helps students become leaders beyond the classroom,” explained Peter Rapaport, AFC board chairman. “They learn self-confidence and they see themselves as active community members who can help change the world.”

“Peer-to-peer teaching is an excellent model for educating teenagers,” echoed Gail Rosenthal, Director of the Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Education Center at Stockton University. Through the Anne Frank exhibit, “the message is clear because the value of human rights and compassion for all are themes that are discussed in university classrooms today.”

By connecting with Anne Frank through her emotionally stirring diary, youth learn about the experience of a teenage girl in hiding, in the midst of religious and ethnic genocide throughout Europe. Students begin to see how to address contemporary challenges with their peers: issues of bullying, self-expression, social justice, respect, human rights, and compassion among diverse groups of people.

“We teach students to connect the past with the present, helping them to discuss issues of identity with their peers and reflect on their own responsibility to themselves and each other,” Katherine Meade, AFC Director for Education, explained. “This program is run by young people for young people, putting the power and knowledge in their hands to educate and fight discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism.”

Students gain an appreciation of historical context from the exhibit, “Anne Frank: A History for Today,” which presents the history of the Holocaust through historical photos and the story of the Frank family. The 32-panel exhibit is one of several developed by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and distributed in the United States through the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.

“Students, educators, and community members who will view the exhibit will be challenged to think about making a difference in our local communities and beyond to eradicate prejudice and to promote respect for all,” Gail Rosenthal said.

The Peer Guide model provides comprehensive training by the Anne Frank Center and local partners, helping to build confidence as well as teaching students how to stand up and challenge prejudice and discrimination. Additionally, actors from the AFC will bring history to life through a series of performances at the high schools, reinforcing the power of young voices by celebrating the lasting legacy of Anne Frank.

Funding for the exhibits and to bring this opportunity to public school students in traditionally underserved areas throughout southern New Jersey was provided in part through a grant from Otto Frank’s foundation, the Anne Frank Fonds, in Basel, Switzerland.

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