LCpl Matthew Tanasi, from 23 Cadet Detachment, City of London and North East Sector ACF says: "What keeps me interested in cadets? The fact that I’m wearing a cool uniform, making friends and I’m being pushed day to day to better myself.”
Matthew, 16, originally comes from Florida in the United States, but has lived in the UK for the last year. Eight months of that has been in the ACF.
Matthew says the reason he joined the ACF was because he was part of the army detachment of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) back in the US, so he was keen to jump in when he arrived in London. "I wanted to find the same feeling again that I had with my battalion back in the US."
Matthew’s journey to live in London wasn’t straightforward. His mother, who is originally from Venezuela, ran into complications with the immigration process in the US which didn't allow her to return to the country. Matthew had to stay with godparents until his mother was in a stable situation in London and able to bring him over.
“The hardest part of moving to a new country would have to be leaving all of my friends behind, I was never too great at making friends, but something changed the year before I came to the UK. Back in Florida I'd found what felt more like a family than friends after joining the JROTC program and leaving them wasn't easy.
“What I like about here," says Matthew, "is that it’s not a high school class but a volunteering organisation, so it’s a bit more serious. And we actually get to stay on military camps – that’s an incredible experience. I definitely enjoy the shooting and fieldcraft aspects the most.”
On camp, he thinks the best part of the experience is being able to meet new people.
“Everything else is cool, I had a lot of fun motorbiking and doing all the other activities, but the best part is meeting all the people from different companies. The camp was wonderful; I ended up making a lot of friends across the sector. I now have my APC 1 star badge and that made me eligible for a promotion that I ended up receiving at unit.
“What keeps me interested in cadets? The fact that I’m wearing a cool uniform, making friends and I’m being pushed day to day to better myself.”