An Anne Frank story, as told by Sam Livoti
In 2013, seventh grader Sam Livoti saw a traveling exhibit from the College of Education’s Anne Frank Center. When she returned to campus almost a decade later, she couldn’t pass up on an opportunity to get involved and became a volunteer tour guide as a junior education major. Livoti graduated in 2022 and continues to honor Anne’s legacy as a volunteer.
In 2013, I was a peer docent and tour guide for the traveling Anne Frank Center exhibit. We were the same age as Anne when she wrote her diary, so it was very relatable. We had several meetings with the staff about what antisemitism is and what hate looks like. That's probably the biggest thing that stuck with me — learning about oppression, how to support minorities and how to stop hate. The staff reached out to me my freshman year because they saw an article in the paper that I was a student here. They asked me if I wanted to be a part of it again — it was an immediate yes!
I would often think about that experience from middle school. Anne’s whole goal was to make the world a better place and to bring out the good in people, so I was really happy to share that experience with people coming through the exhibit again. Right now, I'm a volunteer tour guide for the permanent exhibit, so about two times a week I will give tours, usually to the public, school groups or retirement groups.
My most memorable reactions from a tour are when middle school groups come through. They are so eager to learn about what happened and it usually lines up with reading her diary in the classroom. They can make so many connections to what they are learning about Anne Frank and their questions are always fantastic!
We see a direct correlation between Holocaust education and the desire to be a good citizen. I think when people hear her story in such an interactive way, as in the exhibit, it allows them to see the direct consequences of what it looks like to be a positive force of change in the world. Learning about and observing the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust typically creates a reaction where they do not want the horrors of the past to be viable in the present or future.
My biggest takeaway is the difference between bystanders and upstanders. We talk about that in the exhibit, how people who are bystanders sit around and kind of watch things unravel. One of our goals at the Anne Frank Center is to increase the population of upstanders because it makes the world a better place. That was Anne's goal and her dream and her wish. Reading Anne’s words and talking about the fact that people can do bad things, but they are still capable of being good people is inspiring.
After graduation, I want to work for a law firm in Columbia and hopefully move on to law school in the future. I think that my plans are influenced by my work at the exhibit, wanting to help people and promote fairness and equality. I'm really interested in humanitarian law, and I find a lot of inspiration from the Anne Frank Center for that.