Five Years of Changing Lives: The Ann Frank Project in Rwanda
The Ann Frank Project celebrated five years of success with a special conference featuring the accomplishments of their students. Founded in 2011, the program was funded by the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women at SUNY (State University of New York), a part of the International Relations and Global Affairs Program. The Ann Frank Project is a two year program that takes university students and professors to Rwanda. There, they learn about human rights, reconciliation, and conflict resolution. The program also sponsors seminars throughout the year, organized by video conference, as well as their locations at three SUNY campuses: Binghamton, Geneseo, and Stonybrook. The program has been a success so far. Three students received Fulbright Scholarships, two became White House interns, and several received Masters Degrees from Ivy League Schools.
Ann Frank Project students meet with Rwandan women
The mission as stated by the Anne Frank Project is “to use storytelling as a vehicle for community building, conflict resolution, and identity exploration.” The Project visits schools and orphanages, as well as memorials, national parks, and cultural centers. They seek stories, reparative processes for disadvantaged communities, and the building of a social justice vocabulary. Each year, AFP donates a cow to Buffalo’s sister district, Muhanga.
Lillian Inglut, who traveled to Rwanda with the program in 2015, said that “after spending a day with the women in their villages, we truly felt as though we were a part of the family and cooperative at Azizi.” The women greeted them with a special dance and a meal of sweet potato and leafy greens. They learned to cultivate the soil, to feed cattle, and how to fish in the nearby river. They also learned to weave, making bracelets out of banana leaves. Inglut said she plans “to connect this experience to my classroom someday…to start a partnership and promote these women and spread the word of their story.”
Dr. Maryalice Mazzara, Director of the JFEW SUNY International Relations and Global Affairs Program and SUNY’s Confucius Institute for Business, organized the forum. In addition to working with the Ann Frank Project, Dr. Mazzara designed and facilitated an International Finance Semester at the SUNY Global Center in collaboration with University at Buffalo, as well as a summer program on Science, Technology, and International Relations for the Russian University, MGIMO.#