Tommaso Casavecchi is an AFS-USA Marketing Intern, an AFS alumnus (Italy to U.S., 2018) and a volunteer in his hometown of Florence, Italy. He just took part in another exchange during his undergraduate degree program, this time in New York, where he attended NYU – Stern School of Business. This article highlights Tommaso’s AFS experience and how it shaped his life after going back home in his own words.

Hello! My name is Tommaso, I’m from Florence, Italy, and I had the opportunity to spend one year of high school in Houston, Texas, through an AFS full scholarship in 2018. I had an amazing exchange year! My (very big) host family was incredible, and so were all my teachers and friends I made during my time in the U.S. I was so happy there that I really wanted to go back for college, but unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn’t able to, so I enrolled at Bocconi University in Milan, where I study International Management.

Tommaso and his host family in March 2023, reunited after 4 years apart.

During the final year of my undergraduate program, I had the opportunity to take part in another exchange. After a tough selection, I managed to secure a position at NYU, in New York, my favorite city in the world (on par with Florence!). I arrived here in January and thanks to AFS-USA, who gave me the opportunity to work as an intern in their Marketing Department, I will stay here until August. Coming back to the States was a dream come true: after four years, I got to visit my host family, my high school and teachers, and was reunited with most of my friends from my exchange. It almost felt as if I had never left!

Tommaso and his Calculus teacher in May 2023 during a visit to his host school.

Had I not taken part in an AFS exchange back in high school, I probably wouldn’t be here in New York right now. My previous exchange experience made me realize how big and varied the world really is and how many opportunities are available if you challenge yourself to always widen your perspective! AFS also had a huge effect on my job aspirations, as I’m sure my job will involve travelling, inclusivity, and internationalism.

I believe that AFS creates global citizens, in the sense that it allows young adults to develop soft skills like empathy, communication and critical thinking, that they will find useful in their future academic or working career, but also in their daily life. I think that AFSers, being so open-minded and eager to learn from their surroundings, can adapt to any kind of situation and are able to relate to other people around them notwithstanding any differences.  For this reason, I encourage others to explore the opportunities AFS has to offer! If you’re interested in hosting an AFS exchange student fill out this short form.

Tommaso and the other AFS exchange students hosted in Houston, Texas, in 2018/19.

After having lived in four different places, Florence, Houston, Milan, and New York, I can really say that the world is my home and that I have family all over it! Once I go back to Italy I’ll have two more years of university and I will also get to participate to another exchange (my third one!) and internship abroad! I really can’t wait to know what life has to offer but I know one thing for sure: AFS changed my life, it transformed that young 17 year old me into a citizen of the world and gave me an international propensity that I hope will accompany me for the rest of my life.

As a final thought, here is what I would like to share with any current exchange student about to go back home: your AFS journey has just started, and it never ends! In fact, I would have never imagined that one day I would have come back to the U.S., especially to New York, study at an American University and work for AFS-USA for a couple of months, but here I am, as proof that your AFS exchange is really a life-changing experience.

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Tommaso in New York in January 2023.