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Christine Lee, Irving Reporter
An Irving man who makes a difference in countries around the world is home for the holidays this year.
An Irving family had an extra-special Christmas this year when a family member who has spent years making a difference in different countries came home for the holidays.
Izak Hernandez, a staff member for nonprofit Generation Peace Academy, has not been home for Christmas in two years.
"Each of the holidays, we felt like we we're missing something, but it's so great to have Izak back," said his father, Mark Hernandez.
Izak Hernandez recently returned from a three-week trip to Trinidad and Tobago, where he and his team helped renovate and remodel a community center in Trinidad.
"For the most part, we stayed in Trinidad, and we were working in some of the communities with the highest crime rates," he said.
Hernandez said an assassination attempt on the prime minister triggered a state of emergency while he was there.
But people living in the area didn't seem too bothered by the threat of violence, he said. He said he was surprised at how many people smiled on a daily basis.
"People tend to turn away from the problems that they're having in their society -- almost like, they pretend like it's not there," he said.
Hernandez has worked with Generation Peace Academy for three years, renewing his commitment every year. He said growing up in a humble environment influenced his desire to want to give back.
"It was pretty difficult," he said. "For the most part of my life, I grew up in different church centers in Texas."
Despite their circumstances, his parents reminded them that there were people who were less fortunate.
Hernandez's mother, Yuri, said she's happy to see how her son is growing up.
"He's always trying to be thinking of other people, so I'm very proud of him," she said.
Isak Hernandez said he plans to go to college next year. His dream is to get into Rice University, where he can start working toward his goal of working for NASA.
His older brother, Hero Hernandez, said he and his other brothers refer to him as the golden boy of the family.
Hero Hernandez said he couldn't wait to see what's next.
"Hopefully, he doesn't do a fourth year," he said. "Hopefully, he goes straight into college, and we're excited to see what he can do in college."