By Sabina, Anne Frank Ambassador
My name is Sabina and I am an Anne Frank Ambassador and a Year 10 student from Vandyke Upper School in Bedfordshire.
I firstly got involved with The Anne Frank Trust UK in Year 9. Back then, the story of Anne Frank was one that I had never heard before. But now, that has changed.
My family are originally from Romania. We moved here around 9 years ago due my parents’ wish to me getting a better life. They thought, as I was bi-lingual already, and learning a third language (English), the UK would be the best place for me to grab every opportunity. However, it didn’t really work out that way.
Growing up, I was constantly addressed questions such as: “Why did you come here – so you and your parents can steal our jobs?” or “Why don’t you go back to where you came from?” Unfortunately, these questions became commands after one point: “Just leave”. I never used to be able to control my emotions, particularly as a small child, but after being introduced to Anne’s story I learnt an important lesson: it’s not worth reacting to these hideous comments. Of course, they shouldn’t be ignored, on the contrary, reported. However, never allow them to have a great impact on you – it isn’t worth it. You are the one who knows the truth. Sometimes, people don’t know better and must be educated. Not only on how to behave and speak but also on the feelings and sorrow the victims can face. This would be more beneficial as there is no point in them being punished over something they may never understand – but we must not stop trying to help them to understand.
Consequently, the Anne Frank Trust put together their Switch Off Prejudice schools programme to address this issue. In the videos we watched in workshops, victims were interviewed on some of their most personal clashes with prejudice. They shared their experience with disgusting comments or, in some cases, actions, that had been made against them. The video had great impact as you could hear the despair in their voices which could evoke a sense of guilt in the people which had committed such actions.
I took part in some Peer Guide training when the Trust’s exhibition Anne Frank: A History for Today came to my school. It all started with our Anne Frank expert from the Trust, Val Ross, teaching us on the story of Anne Frank and the current existence of hatred and prejudice in our society.
We took part in some extensive training in groups, and each group became experts on the area of Anne’s life that they were studying. Panels were put up and we got the chance to pass on Anne’s legacy and thoughts through the exhibition to its visitors: schoolmates and people from the local community.
This experience was a confidence-building activity, but also a chance to make a difference to prejudice where we see it: we learnt to portray the importance of the past in order to prevent it from being repeated again in the future. I learnt a lot myself during this process: not just about Anne’s story, but about the way her legacy has changed the world today – and that no matter how old you are, or where you come from, you can make a difference.
Last year in October, our school had the privilege of hosting a National Hate Crime Awareness Week event. This evening consisted of myself and my fellow Ambassadors giving speeches about Anne Frank’s story and message being so relevant to society today – how she developed her views on tolerance of diversity and how other people could too.
I, myself, gave a speech about my own experiences with bullying and hate crime. It has always been hard being from a different country and trying to fit in. However, I have been here so long – I feel like this is my country. And so, on that evening, I gave a speech involving some of the scarring events in my life. I feel it was the best way to make the audience understand what the victims truly go through in the worse moments of their lives.
About the guest editor
Sabina is an Anne Frank Ambassador from Vandyke Upper School in Bedfordshire