Travelling with Anne Frank: student guides at the museum

Issue: Volume 97, Number 1

Posted: 29 January 2018
Reference #: 1H9hET

A touring exhibition that explores themes of identity and prejudice opens in February, and New Zealand students will have a special role to play.

Anne Frank’s story is heartbreaking and well known.

An international exhibition will open at Auckland Museum on
9 February, giving New Zealanders a chance to explore it in more detail and learn more about its wider context.

‘Let Me Be Myself’ – The Life Story of Anne Frank describes what life was like for Anne and her family and explores the events surrounding the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazis in Germany.

The Frank family spent two years in hiding during World War II in the secret annex at the back of an office building, where Anne, a young teenager, kept a diary documenting their life and experiences leading up to their capture and journey to a concentration camp.

The exhibition, which is touring from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and brought here by the Holocaust Centre New Zealand, includes eight panels with a timeline outlining the events of the war and Anne’s personal story.

Exhibition chairman Boyd Klap says it also draws strong links with society as it is today, which is important as school groups will make up a large proportion of the visitors.

“There is a section that focuses on bullying,” he explains.

“It features students around the world talking about discrimination and their own experiences of being different from their peers. It links back to the wider context of Anne’s story, and how discrimination ultimately led to the Holocaust and other terrible events in the world.

“Reaching school groups is our main objective. Members of the public are very welcome too, of course, but we have structured the exhibition for teachers and students and published resources that teachers will receive prior to their visit, so students are prepared.”

Boyd previously ran insurance companies but over the past few years has been instrumental in bringing the Anne Frank exhibition, in various iterations, to New Zealand and Australia.

As a teenager in Holland during the German occupation in World War II, he remembers Jewish neighbours and friends who were taken away and never seen again.

“I’m not Jewish myself but I feel an affinity to Anne, and I believe we must keep learning about how dangerous discrimination is, in all its forms,” says Boyd.

A special feature of the new exhibition is that secondary school students will guide visitors and answer their questions.

“Previously, we’ve had Holocaust survivors and teachers as guides. But to really engage young people, we should have them in this role,” he says.

“The benefit for the students is that they’re being educated in an important area and they learn communication and leadership skills, and the benefit for the exhibition is that it is even more compelling for young visitors.”

Ophira Poratt is one such guide.

The St Cuthbert’s College student was invited to take on the role after she presented a talk at an educator’s conference on her participation in the March of the Living, an international education programme that coincides with Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Ophira is a third-generation Holocaust survivor and says she feels privileged to be part of the Anne Frank exhibition in Auckland.

“I feel honoured to be a guide, not only as a representative of my family but also as a teenager today. Anne Frank was so young when she died and I feel a strong connection to her,” she says.

“The training was very interesting; we learned a lot about the content of the exhibition, but also how to present the information to our peers, and how to answer difficult questions.”

Ophira is currently re-reading Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl to refresh her memory on all the details in the book, and thoroughly approves of the idea of young people guiding the exhibition.

“I think learning from your peers is much more engaging and you take more meaning away from the experience,” she says.

“Having students as guides will mean that the exhibition will be much easier for younger visitors to relate to.”

‘Let Me Be Myself’ – The Life Story of Anne Frank opens at Auckland Museum on 9 February and will tour the country throughout 2018, 2019, and 2020. The exhibition will then be at the Dominion Museum Wellington from 26 May to 21 July, before moving to the Christchurch Airforce Museum and then to the KiwiNorth Museum, Whangarei. Please stay in touch with with link) or the Holocause Centre of
New Zealand Facebook page for further details. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 AM, 29 January 2018

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