In 2006, Professor Drew Kahn directed a unique production of The Diary of Anne Frank at SUNY Buffalo State that paralleled Anne’s story with that of a Rwandan genocide survivor, based on Immaculée Ilibagiza’s story Left to Tell. Throughout the production, the audience witnessed Anana, a young Tutsi girl hiding from Hutu extremists, share Anne’s monologues. Juxtaposing these two girls who are worlds apart, showed that they had the same hopes, dreams, and fears.
The production united our diverse student body with a story about social justice, showing that there is an “Anne Frank” in every genocide— in every conflict. Since the Holocaust, the world has been busier than ever with genocide and mass atrocities, and so the audience left with this question: How many diaries have we missed?
Buffalo State’s inspired administration and the SUNY system’s support helped the 2006 production give rise to the Anne Frank Project, which has developed local, national, and international story-based learning programming for students and professionals. We believe story matters, and that telling our stories will improve the world.