Being one of two winners, the managing editor for the Jaguar Times is heading to Japan for spring break, after winning the Discover Asia Correspondent Contest, sponsored by Korean Air and the Los Angeles Times.
Luis Valente, a junior in the Technology & Media magnet, wrote an essay about wanting to go to Japan, because he grew up playing Japanese video games.
According to Valente, he was hanging out with his friends in downtown Los Angeles when he received a call from his boss from the summer letting him know he needed to talk to him.
“I’m thinking: am I in trouble? Because I think I’m in trouble or something,” said Valente. “By that time, I forgot that I even turned in an essay; it was in the back of my mind [because] it was something I didn’t think I was going to win.”
His boss asked him if he wanted to go to Japan during spring break. Valente was still confused, because he had still forgotten he turned in the essay.
According to Valente, he did not believe his boss when he told him that his essay had won.
“[I was] like: ‘nah, get out of here. You’re kidding; you’re joking,’” said Valente.
It wasn’t until Valente remembered that he had written his essay he realized he actually won.
“I smile[d] super large; it’s like the biggest smile [ever],” said Valente. “I tried to keep it cool, but I [couldn’t].”
Valente started to hug his boss, his friends and even the security guard. According to Valente, he couldn’t stop smiling during the whole bus ride home.
Valente’s original spring break plans of going to Mexico dropped when he heard about the violence occurring near the village where his parents are from.
“I don’t want to die this spring break. I don’t want to go to Mexico; I’ll wait until I’m 18,” said Valente.
Although Valente chose to go to Japan because he grew up playing Japanese video games, he is also looking forward to Japanese cuisine– such as sushi and takoyaki.
Valente will take his brother-in-law to Japan because his parents and sister are not able to leave the country due to their immigration status.
“My parents aren’t going, but they’ll be there with me in spirit,” Valente said.