Today is our last day in Amsterdam and the last day of our trip. There are a lot of mixed emotions within the group. I think that many of us are sad that our adventures are coming to an end, but also ready to get home to our friends and family.
This morning we had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House and Museum, which I think was the perfect way to wrap up our trip. Walking through the secret annex was a really humbling and powerful experience. I can't imagine spending two years in a cramped canal house, forced to be quiet and stay indoors while also living in constant fear of being discovered. Hearing about the terrors of the Holocaust from the eyes of a young, innocent (and incredibly insightful) girl puts this unthinkable period of history into a new perspective.
While visiting the home of Anne Frank is powerful is moving in its own right, being able to experience it after spending two weeks learning about the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi gives the experience a whole new meaning. It's very easy for society to brand genocide as a one time tragedy, never to happen again. However, genocide continues to occur, not just once but multiple times throughout history. I have been having a hard time understanding how we continue to allow genocide to happen. History is supposed to be about learning from our mistakes, but instead we see them repeated over and over again.
Visiting the Anne Frank House today was also incredibly meaningful because of the recent events in Orlando. On the way to the house, we passed the "Homomonument,"a monument dedicated to members of the LGBT community. The monument was still decorated with hundreds of flowers, candles, and notes from a vigil that had taken place the night before. While we like to pretend that such unspeakable acts of violence are a thing of the past, seeing the vigil before visiting the Anne Frank House was a reminder that our world is still full of fear and hate. It's hard not to be overwhelmed by all of the evil that is around us, but if this trip has taught me anything, it's that hope and healing are incredibly powerful forces. The power of the human spirit to rally and find hope, love and forgiveness after experiencing tragedy is both perplexing and beautiful.