Students returning to the SUNY Buffalo State campus or starting their first semester will come face to face this week with a perspective-altering project designed to drag them out of their comfort zones and into the global community.
The college’s annual Anne Frank Project, which is also open to the public, gets started in earnest Wednesday morning after a few warm-up events on Tuesday and closes on Thursday. It will feature talks, art exhibitions and performances from artists and thinkers concerned with the conference’s broad theme of “identity, inclusion and the world.”
The conference, founded by theater professor Drew Kahn to give students a crash course in global conflict, has grown from a theater-specific niche program to a campus-wide effort to jolt students into consciousness about and to foster empathy for people from different experiences and backgrounds.
“Regardless of our locations and our personal background, we must comprehend and grasp the contemporary ways that inequality and discrimination are exhibited locally, regionally, nationally and worldwide,” Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner said in a prepared statement. “We often perceive the effects of these inequalities best when we listen to the stories of those who have the courage to share their personal histories.”
This year’s conference will include projects connected to Buffalo’s growing refugee population. These include an interactive art project led by the Stitch Buffalo Refugee Women’s Workshop, a citywide program designed to unite Buffalo’s growing refugee population through the arts. Stitch Buffalo members will lead workshops from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, during which participants will create heart-shaped “Buffalove” pins to be exhibited throughout the week in the Czurles-Nelson Gallery.
Other highlights include a talk from poet and performer Jasmine Mans at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, a performance of Mykel Dicus’ one-man show “Pieces of Me” at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in the Donald Savage Theatre and a discussion featuring Drew Kahn and local Holocaust survivor Sophia Veffer at 3:05 p.m. Thursday in the Donald Savage Theatre.
A full schedule of events is online at annefrankproject.com.