The Gift Called Life

By Emlyn Lee, Founder

“Life is a gift. If you do not value your gift, nobody else will.” This message was attached to my Yogi tea bag string, ironically, on the eve of my birthday. I come from a family string of gifted sisters that have high achievements within their personal and professional community, yet somewhere along the gene pool, I never embraced science and math like two of my sisters, nor had much talent with music and arts like the other two. In fact, I had a really challenging time figuring out what to major in at college, and what to do career wise.

I love learning, discovering, and education in general, but being a student was not my cup of tea, so I quickly finished college in four years with a communications major. After working in the corporate world for about five months, I jumped off the conveyor belt we seem to mechanically get put on, and went abroad to teach English in China. Some may perceive this as escaping and procrastinating with responsibilities (it’s okay, these thoughts crossed my mind too, and it continues to bring a worry brow across my parents’ forehead), but living and traveling on a Chinese wage budget, buying groceries at the local street market, creating daily lessons to my college students, hanging socks to dry on an outdoor bamboo pole on the seventh floor, and making travel plans for weekend and holiday breaks brought me more ‘life’ skills than any textbooks, diploma, and staff meeting.

After three semesters of teaching, I still wasn’t sure what my ‘calling’ was, yet life kept bringing me gifts of random opportunities. I ended up working as a cruise director on a river boat cruise along the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River, which introduced me to the hospitality and tourism field, where I managed and organized luxury tours all around the globe for three years. Getting a bit restless of over 900 days of international travel, I went back to teaching, and taught ESL and GED to at-need communities in Austin.

After all of these life and global experiences, I came to the realization that these are my gifts! People, cultures, equality, service, diplomacy, education, and travel are my skills set. I may not be able to discover vaccinations, or design jet engines, or be a concert pianist, or build office complexes, but I am capable of sharing my gifts to others. Cultural Embrace exists so we may introduce people to ‘Discover the Similarities and Share the Differences’.

We all have different opinions, expectations, experiences, highs and lows with life. That, in itself, is a gift of being human. Our knowledge and skills at Cultural Embrace are to form the box to best fit your shape, and wrap it up with the appropriate ribbons and wrapping papers. Cultural Embrace’s goal is to bring additional value, so when you receive your package, you will untie the bow and open it to discover the beautiful gift called…LIFE!

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Apr 29, 2021 @ 18:30
👋 Hi everyone! I'm Eryn Fleener a senior at DePaul University in Chicago, studying Early Childhood Education. I studied abroad with API Summer 2019 in Florence, Italy! I will be taking over API Instagram tomorrow, make sure you follow along!
🇮🇹 🍕
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Apr 29, 2021 @ 17:51
🗞️ 🌏 Breaking news! The world is opening back up and travel will return! Enjoy some good news before the weekend! #studyabroad #apiabroad #ispyapi #internationaltravel #Europe
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Apr 29, 2021 @ 10:57
A lovely day for a tour of Montparnasse au des années folles and some delicious glace 🍦avec API. There is always something new to discover in Paris! #apiabroad #paris
📷 by @api_paris
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Apr 28, 2021 @ 18:40
The world is slowly opening back up! Vaccinated tourists will be allowed to visit Europe as early as this Summer! #ispyapi #studyabroad #summer2021
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