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Over the weekend, me and my fellow students went on a field trip to Amsterdam. We had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House, where she and seven others hid from the Nazis for two years. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I actually got to walk through the hidden doorway behind the bookcase that hid Anne and her family from the world. Then, I was able to go through the Secret Annex, as it has come to be known, and walk into Anne’s room. The pictures she hung on her wall in the 1940s are still there.
The Secret Annex remains unfurnished, just as it was when the Nazis took everything after discovering the Frank family. Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was the only one to survive the concentration camps, and returned to an empty house. When the Anne Frank house opened to the public in 1960, Otto Frank asked that it be kept unfurnished as a way to show what people are capable of doing to one another. The Nazi’s took everything he had, and the Anne Frank House serves as a reminder that we must learn from the past, respect each other, and protect our fellow human beings.
What struck me the most about the Anne Frank House was the message every employee there had to share: Do the right thing. My mom has always taught me that the right thing is the most important thing, no matter how hard or scary it may be. Everything I have learned and believed growing up was reinforced during my visit to the Secret Annex, and it was powerful.
At the end of my tour of the Anne Frank House, there was a room with a large television in it playing a video about personal rights and freedoms. The video introduced a few different teenagers living in areas where personal rights do not always come first. Then, it asked the audience a question like, “Should the crucifix be allowed in public schools,” and the audience could push a button to give their answer anonymously. Then, the results were displayed on the screen for everyone to see.
As embarrassing as it is, I was afraid to push the button at first. Even though it was an anonymous answer, I didn’t want anyone possibly figuring out what I said, in fear that my opinion might be different. Then I stopped myself, realizing how ridiculous I was being. I was in the Anne Frank House, surrounded by a history of people who fought for their rights and did not always win. But they kept fighting. And here I was, afraid to push a button.
Sitting in this room, I realized and understood everything my mom and dad have taught me. I finally believed that my opinion does matter and that I am lucky to have the freedom to express it and be proud of who I am without someone telling me I’m not good enough because of where I come from. Not everyone is going to agree with me all the time, and THAT’S OK! Anne Frank changed the world by writing what she felt, what she went through. She was just one person, and yet she did it. She changed the world. So why can’t I?