Like the other students at Central Valley High School in the City of Shasta Lake, junior Syed Asad Ali got involved in new activities and enjoyed new experiences.
"I became the mascot, joined clubs, ran cross-country. I slow danced with a girl first time," said Asad.
Unlike his classmates, his family is all the way in Pakistan.
Asad was one of 108 students chosen out of 15,000 to receive a scholarship to come to the U.S. for school.
And unlike most other students, Asad has been invited to speak at the White House in June.
"I'm the boy that they selected out of 1000, many more, exchange students, so I'm very happy for it. I'm gonna go back to Capitol Hill, I'm going to give a speech. That is the highest honor for anyone to ever have," he said.
Principal Johnson puts a priority on hosting foreign exchange students at Central Valley.
The exchange of ideas they bring ends up benefiting the American students, as well.
"It speaks well to the diversity we have here at Central Valley High School, how welcomed he has been, but also it's good for our students to see how successful he is. He served as a great model for our students, not only culturally, but academically, as well," Principal Johnson said.
Asad will be going home after the school year ends, and one person is anxiously awaiting his return.
"In October it was my mom's birthday back in Pakistan, and I wrote her a card and I said 'Happy Birthday Mom, and this is your card for you. No matter where I'll be, wherever I'll be, I'm gonna remember your birthday and I'm your son, thank you so much for giving me all the happiness,'" he said.
Asad is working on returning to Central Valley High School next year as a senior.
After graduating, he hopes to attend UC Davis or Johns Hopkin University to help achieve his dream of specializing in diagnostic medicine.
He also hopes to run for Congress one day.