Hey there! My name is Mattia Tomay, and I'm a World Heritage Italian exchange student in Aberdeen.

Did you know that April was National Volunteer Recognition month? I bet in every community there is someone that with his/her goodwill and talent help some other people, and that many times we forget to thank.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who have been so important and fundamental to the great experience that I'm living in the USA.

Firstly, to my amazing American family: My mom and dad (Tom and Cindy Beilman) and my little siblings Sabrina, Deangelo, Noelah and Noah. They are just wonderful. They have made me feel at home, even at 5,000 miles away from home. They opened the doors of their house and of their hearts to a teenager and, living together, we learned to know each other. I just love them all. They will always be a part of my family and, even when I go back to Italy, they'll always have a special place in my heart.

Then I want to thank Susan Kalbarczyk, my area representative, for her huge dedication, helpfulness, openness and cheerfulness!

Also, thank you to Aberdeen High School, where I've made some awesome and everlasting friendships. Thank you to the teachers that have been nice and kind to me, but most of all an example to follow to succeed in life.

It's incredible how a year away from home, from your comfort zone, in a totally new place, country, continent, can benefit your growth so much.

The date of my departure back to Italy approaches, so thank you, thank you and thank you again to those who have been making this the best and most important year of my life.

I would definitely suggest this experience to every teenager that wants to open her/his horizons and get ready for the future; but also to any kind of family or individual that wants to host for a semester or for a year a student from a different country, who will share with you his/her life, culture and will bring joy and love in your house.

Exchange programs make the world look smaller, show you how we're all different but truly the same and we all speak the same language of love. An exchange experience is something so special that you cannot understand it unless you try it.

If you're interested by any of this or you're just curious and want some more information, please contact my Area Representative Susan Kalbarczyk at 410-207-5666 or visit host.world-heritage.org. And God bless America!

Mattia Tomay

Aberdeen High School exchange student from Italy