I realize that this post and the last post will upload on the same day. But I actually wrote the last one yesterday and ended up falling asleep. Taking in the sights and making time to reflect on everything isn’t as easy as it sounds. I just want to take everything in, sleep, and do it all over again. Let’s be honest, though, I’d forget everything within a matter of days, and I really don’t want to do that.
Today was the first official day of class, the main thing on the itinerary was to take a walking tour of Amstedam. And listen. I get that sounds REALLY touristy and boring, but it was three hours of good times since our tour guide was both informative and funny.
What did we see on the tour?
- The Old Church and the New Church
- Fact: Originally Catholic then Protestant
- Canals, canals, canals
- Fact: The city has 15 workers who’s sole job is to fish bikes from the canal.
- The red light district
- Fact: Prostitutes are literally hanging out by windows beckoning men over.
- A snazzy cheese shop
- Question: Is it possibly to bring cheese from Europe to America?
- What used to be the East India Company
- Fact: if you combine the incomes from Apple and Google and times it by 5, that was the revenue this company was making. Crazy, right??
- The Gay Monument
- Fact: The Netherlands was the first country to allow gay marriage.
- Fact: Everything is sinking since this whole country is below sea level. And the houses are so skinny and tall because it was how people used to bypass taxes.
After the tour, the whole group walked around for a little bit. After pizza and a couple more stores, some of us decided to wait in line for the Anne Frank house while the rest of the group went back to the hostel.
How can I explain the Anne Frank house to someone who has never been to Amsterdam? The houses are right up against each other, so building a secret attic in the back top of the house without anyone noticing, makes more sense. The attic was also bigger than I imagined and from the pictures I saw, the two families living there tried their best to decorate it and make it their home.
That makes sense, right? Can you imagine living inside with bare walls? I understand why Anne and her family decorated and tried to distract from the fact that they couldn’t go outside. But my heart still broke. My heart broke when I walked up the steep stairs. My heart broke when I saw the blackened windows and the dim lighting. My heart broke when we were told that Anne thought she was alone after her family got taken to the concentration camp. I cried when Anne’s father published her diary in order to complete Anne’s dream of becoming a writer.
Did you know that the Anne Frank house was one of the first organizations to oppose the Muslim ban in the US? There was a video playing towards the end were Emma Thompson was giving a speech about Anne. Here ending remark was something along the lines of, “her ‘what if’s’ are our opportunities.” Living in a fast paced world, it’s easy to forget what has happened. We should learn from our mistakes. We should remember that there are lives being affected that the media won’t ever cover. We should stop putting figures like Anne Frank on a pedestal and learn to take action against bigotry.