This student feels that Ms. Gruwell’s lesson plan on racial tolerance has changed her life. After hearing Gerda Seifer speak about World War II, during which she was forced to hide in a basement and was separated from her family members, all of whom ultimately died in concentration camps, she realizes that Gerda’s experience is similar to Anne Frank’s, as both girls lost their innocence when they were confronted to the hatred and discrimination that the war brought with it.
This student realizes what s/he learns in the classroom can affect her/him personally and can even teach her/him life lessons, thus proving that school is not separated from the process of living or growing up in general. S/he becomes aware of the deep effects that injustice, ethnic hatred, and violence can have on one’s psyche.
This student explains that s/he, too, is used to being afraid of going outside—not because of anti-Semitic Nazis, but because of gang violence. When s/he is outside, s/he tries to act like s/he belongs there, so that s/he will not be attacked. S/he learns directly from Anne and Gerda’s survival strategies, as well as from their deep messages of tolerance.
This student’s adoption of Holocaust survivors’ strategies demonstrates the real threat that violence plays in her own life, and her need to address it as a pressing issue. At the same time, s/he learns to separate herself from this whirlpool of violence by trusting that racial hatred and violence are not the solution.