For the sixth year, the SUNY Buffalo State Anne Frank Project (AFP) will explore difficult issues such as racism, bullying, and genocide through participatory workshops that include poetry, theater, music, and dance during a campuswide conference (held this year September 8–10.
Free and open to the public, AFP’s approximately 50 workshops follow a theme each year; the 2014 theme is “Change Through Stories.” Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members are encouraged to submit ideas for workshops they would like to present.
Conference organizers are looking for submissions that address stories from a wide variety of disciplines and that are as interactive as possible, said AFP director and theater professor Drew Kahn.
The AFP is an innovative, process-driven, multidisciplinary conference, noted Eve Everette, AFP assistant director and conference coordinator. "We encourage artists, scholars, and activists to present projects through storytelling on healing and conflict resolution," she said. "All workshops must actively engage participants in applying theories into practice."
AFP initially grew out of a student production of The Diary of Anne Frank Kahn directed seven years ago that incorporated Rwandan genocide into the story. At that time, he never imagined the play would blossom into a three-day, campus-wide conference or spread to other colleges and universities. But that’s exactly has it has grown. Now, at least 4,000 visitors participate in the Buffalo State conference each year.
The enduring popularity and growth of the AFP demonstrates its relevance to new audiences of all ages.
"Today, we are force-fed a steady diet of conflict from a variety of sources. Our world continues to participate in behavior we find questionable and shocking," Kahn said. "We are filled with this information, but often lack the tools and vocabulary to process the immense load. Stories bring order to the chaos and give meaning to the undefinable. Stories are the vehicle for change. Anne Frank knew this and continues to teach us important lessons for today through her story."