Meet the students selected for a free trip to Asia!

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Monica Hernandez and Luis Valente are the winners of the second annual Discover Asia Correspondent Contest, sponsored by Korean Air. They will each receive an expense-paid five-day, six-night trip courtesy of Korean Air to the destination of their choice in Asia to explore a topic of personal interest. A team of judges who are editors and Asia correspondents at the L.A. Times selected Monica and Luis from over 150 entries representing over 100 high schools.

Monica Hernandez | Los Angeles River High School

“I was born in Mexico and brought to the United States when I was 2 months. All my best memories have taken place in the same neighborhood with the same people. I love my people but going on this trip to Thailand can completely change my views of the world. Being a graduating senior my options of where I would like to study are opening from all directions. A year ago I was not able to imagine myself leaving my home. After this trip I may potentially want to study abroad and continue my studies in Asia.”

Luis Valente | South East High School

“Surprisingly enough, the virtual world of Pokemon connected me with real people, some of which became friends. Pokemon and video games allowed me to find a community, one where I could interact with people without fearing being judged….One can say I’ve already experienced Osaka, but I want to experience it in person, and not on a dual-screen handheld. I want experience the same level of comfort and belonging in Osaka as I did when I played the Pokemon games.”




Both students are planning to travel over spring break, and will be honored at the 2017 Festival of Books. Luis’ full essay can be found here, and Monica’s full essay can be found here.

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