By Abigail Guzman

Walking into a room of unfamiliar faces, walking out of the room with thirteen new friends: This is how I feel about my experience in the High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

When I found out I was accepted into HSAP, I had no idea what to expect. I wondered: Did anyone else from my group interview get accepted? Are the other Apprentices going to be friendly? How am I going to introduce myself?

The first day of training, I walked into a room of thirteen other teenagers from New York City and realized the only thing we had in common that first day was that we were all different.

Even though many people consider the idea of change intimidating, I embraced this experience with open arms. Getting to know each other’s backgrounds, interests, and heritages felt like I was going around the world meeting new people. The best part of it all was the openness everyone received. There was no judgement, no bias, and no stereotypes to stop anyone from being who they really are. Even outside of the Museum, the other Apprentices and I shared thoughts about values and culture without arguing or fighting. In the world we live in today, many people keep their thoughts to themselves because of their fear of being judged or criticized, but the Museum created a comfortable environment for the Apprentices to express ourselves.

As our Apprenticeship comes to an end, I am positive that the friendships made here will last a long time. Not only did we learn from our mentors at work and from educators at the Museum, but we learned from each other – and I think friendships in which both parties can learn from each other are the most important ones to maintain. Not only do these friendships help you discover how other people view the world, they also help you discover yourself.

Abigail is a 2018 participant in the High School Apprenticeship Program.