On a hillside near a lake in Busan, South Korea, a school that can hold 5,000 students sits on a 40-acre plot. The grades 7-12 school keeps its students working from 7:30 a.m. to 11:20 p.m. Monday through Friday — and every other Saturday.
Then they go home and study some more.
"There is tremendous competition for education in Korea," said school board Trustee David Brooks. "They realize that to advance themselves they need an education."
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District vice president went to South Korea for a week in mid-February and got a chance to find out more about its educational system and the value its culture places on education.
The trip wasn't district-related, but Brooks had the chance to visit the school and stay with its founder, who had a child attending it.
The visit was with the Voice of China and Asia, a more than 100-year-old Christian missionary organization founded by one of his family members. Brooks joined the organization in the early 2000s and serves on its board of directors.
The organization works to support schools, churches, orphanages, homes for the elderly and the disabled, he said.
Brooks went with the organization to Korea for his third time to attend a seminary graduation ceremony and present a check to an orphanage for mentally disabled children.
During his visit, Brooks stayed in the home of a doctor who founded the school.
It was the length that South Koreans go to for education, and the sacrifices they made, that Brooks said he will bring back to his position as trustee.
"I feel that it broadens my vision for students here in Newport-Mesa," he said.
Interested in finding out more or getting involved with the Voice of China and Asia? Visit