Amsterdam was a place I have always wanted to visit. When I first read the Diary of Anne Frank, I was pulled into another world. It didn’t matter that I lived in a different country during a different time because her words spoke to me like I was the one writing them. I was pulled into her story because it was similar, not at the surface, but the mental side of hiding behind my words and thoughts in a world filled with anger. This is the story of many children enduring adverse circumstances in their upbringing. Anne Frank was brought up during a time when who she was, a little girl persecuted because of her Jewish identity, was denied human rights. I was persecuted because of the family I was born into and deemed homeless and helpless by my peers.
On September 19th, 2012 I headed to San Francisco airport to catch a flight to Norwich, England which would become my new home for a year. During my studies, I took the time to travel throughout Europe to places like Italy, Paris, and Amsterdam. I knew that Amsterdam would speak to me because of my prior readings. During my stay, something would not allow me to leave without buying tickets to the Anne Frank museum. This museum allowed the public to view the bookcase and living quarters behind it, also known as the Secret Annex, where the Frank’s hid in plain sight during World War II from Nazi persecution alongside four other people. I followed that “something” and walked the streets of Amsterdam, with the assistance of a map, to the museum that would put me in the same residence of their hiding. As I made my way through the entrance to the place where we would begin, I couldn’t help but realize that I was on sacred land, in a sacred place where innocent people fought for their survival to exist in a world of hatred. I was emotional and overwhelmed at the same time. Upon climbing the staircase to view the rooms, I felt a bit claustrophobic, like there was an immediate need for oxygen. This moment immediately took me back to the times growing up when I had to fight tooth and nail to survive the streets of Los Angeles. Most days I felt like I was suffocating just trying to stay alive. Like Anne, writing was my escape into a world of hope, dreams, and air. I could breathe writing my possibilities on paper knowing that there was a way for them to exist.
This experience grounded me to fight even harder for my dreams. It did not matter how many obstacles I had to grow through, or how many no’s I had to hear. What mattered was that I had opportunities in front of me and all I had to do was fight for them. Being a creative art major, it can sometimes be difficult to find your place where you can thrive and nurture who you were created to be. These opportunities that I fought for, have afforded me the privilege to study in another country and help to prepare those students who may be in the position I was in before getting to this point. I have found my love for writing in the hoods of South Central, Los Angeles, and to be clear, I wouldn’t change my experiences for anything.