Tuesday morning was no different for Judd and Jess Carroll who drove their 15-passenger van to All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler, where they spend a lot of time dropping off and picking up a dozen students, all from South Korea.
"So we started with two kids and it has grown every year," Judd said.
Judd and his wife Jess were working as English tutors in South Korea when they decided to move to the United States; several of their students followed. After careful consideration, they decided to head to Tyler so their students could attend All Saints.
"A lot of the Korean parents are prepared to pay $25,000 a year for a good private school," Judd explained.
He said private schools in East Texas are less than half that price so it presents an amazing opportunity for several Korean students and their families.
These students said leaving their families and first language behind was a big leap of faith, but it has been worth it.
"Hi and yummy was all of Ryan's English," Judd said.
Now, four and half years later, Ryan Jeong, an 8th grade student at All Saints, is fluent in English.
"My favorite class is athletics. In Korea you don't have much land to play sports in and you won't see basketball courts anywhere," he said.
Tiffany Shin, a sophomore, is happy to have some time away from some of the congested cities in South Korea.
"All of the cities in Korea, it's just full of high buildings and there is really no place to have the nature," she said.
Shin said she hopes to visit a few national parks before heading back home overseas. Something else she is enjoying while in the states? American food.
"I like grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese," she said.
Amy Park joined the Carrolls five years ago, and is now a senior.
"In Korea they are very strict, but here we have a lot of freedom. We can curl our hair and have our fingernails painted, make up, in Korea it's not okay," she said.
She is applying to college here in the states, something the Carrolls said can be very difficult in Korea.
"In Korea you just have to go to school, sit in the class for more than 12 hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. And, there is one important university entrance exam every year. There's just one opportunity that you can get into the university," Jess said.
Jess, who grew up in the Korean school system, said that puts a lot of extra pressure on the students.
For now, these Korean students enjoy exploring America. Several of them have visited Colorado, Maine, Florida and some have even taken a cruise. The Carrolls are already planning their next vacation.
Kyle Edgemon is the Upper School Head at All Saints Episcopal School and said they appreciate the cultural diversity these students have brought to their school.
"Bringing in the Korean students has just been a huge impact for our students, and they just have an appreciation of another country that they probably would have never had if these families hadn't come in," Edgemon explained.
Edgemon is expecting several more Korean students to join their school as Judd and Jess continue to offer housing to students.
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