- Study Abroad
- Volunteer Abroad
- Teach Abroad
- Intern Abroad
- High School
- Gap Year
Cultural Embrace by API
Programs and Reviews
Cultural Embrace by API wants you to be more than a tourist; we want you to interact with the local culture and community you are visiting.
Whether you are a student trying to gain academic credit and work experience, or a professional looking for that meaningful vacation or corporate team building retreat, or a retiree that wants to revive your life in another exotic destination, Cultural Embrace by API offers travel programs that will fit anyone's schedule, budget, interests and passions.
What position do you hold at Cultural Embrace? What has been your career path so far?
Emlyn: I founded Cultural Embrace (CE) in 2002, started marketing it around 2004, and made it a full-time career in 2006. In January, 2012, CE was acquired by Academic Programs International (API) creating Cultural Embrace by API (CE by API). Currently, I am Managing Director of CE by API. My career path seemed to be paved wherever the wind blew.
I've held positions ranging from: sports & events publicity and marketing, to sales and marketing in the funeral/cemetery plot industry (morbid, I know, but a never-dying industry--no pun intended), to teaching English in China and the States, to working as a cruise director on the Yangzte River (the year the "Macarena" came out and I probably lead the Macarena moves about ten times a night), to managing and leading luxury tours and private jet adventures to over 75 countries in five continents from 6-600 passengers on a trip, to teaching GED in East Austin, to working at a no-meat, no-sugar eat low on the food chain addressing global issues and cross cultural dialogues youth summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains, to telemarketing to raise funds for disabled children.
While I am a big proponent with setting goals and plans, I honestly never "planned" or knew about these 'types of jobs" when I was a student. Most of my experiences and jobs I got were through my own initiatives and connections. I never 'studied abroad' as a student, nor used a 'program provider' for my international travels; which is why I founded Cultural Embrace. I wanted to alleviate the hiccups and speed bumps that I experienced from my personal travels or through working within the hospitality/tourism and education industries.
Did YOU travel abroad? If so, what inspired you to go?
Emlyn: I am blessed and grateful to have traveled the world several times over, and continue to travel for work and leisure. I have been to over 85 countries in six continents--from hitch-hiking to riding the Concorde. I didn't travel until after I graduated university since study abroad wasn't popular when I was a student, and a two years assignment to an unknown destination for the Peace Corps seemed too unsettling. Ironically, my first international experience was to teach English in Wuhan, China, which I ended up extending my teaching contract and then landed the cruise director job, so stayed in China for 22 months straight! So, trust me, two years goes by really fast! Since I was young, I always embraced diversity and had a soft spot in my heart for those less fortunate. I think one of the best ways to experience the world (and to grow as an individual), is to go somewhere outside your comfort zone and do something that helps others. Often times, the more you give..the more you get back.
What does the future hold for Cultural Embrace - any exciting new programs to share?
Emlyn: 2012 has been an transitional year for Cultural Embrace and it's merge with API. We look forward to the collaborations which will offer more experiential opportunities (i.e.: volunteer, internship, work, and teach) to the study abroad field. In 2013, we have 1-4 weeks set group departure dates during Spring and Summer break to China, Guatemala, South Africa Thailand, and Turkey. We hope this will attract people who enjoy: traveling off the beaten paths, serving the local community, eating amazing cuisine, seeing incredible sites, embracing the local cultures, and meeting and having fun with other like-minded wanderlusts. We have add-on internship and volunteer programs with API study abroad to Argentina and Costa Rica, and will increase experiential offerings to increase academic, professional, and personal development to students and graduates around the globe.
What about the future of the tourism industry? Given the increased opportunities and interest from youth for travel, will there be any drastic changes?
Emlyn: The world is constantly changing, and information is readily available at the touch of mouse button or voice-activated navigations. I hope what we see, hear, and learn virtually continues to intrigue us more to touch, taste, and embrace our world. I am optimistic in thinking that there will be more cultural exchanges between citizens of developed and less-developed nations...making us want to discover the similarities and share the differences to be a more loving and compassionate world.
If you could travel abroad right now, where would you go, what would you do, and why?!
Emlyn: Wow, how much space and time do I have? If I had to pick one place right now, I think I would like to return back to Nepal to experience and truly embrace it. I lead a group with my former luxury tour company position, and was fascinated with the Chitwan National Park, but only got to spend 2 days there. I would love a chance to spend more time, get immersed with the locals and the wildlife, and to be connected with their culture--from the rural and rustic areas to busier Kathmandu. The people seemed so peaceful, genuine, and kind; and the landscape of the country was so beautiful and diverse (from jungles to the Himalayans). Plus, I would be drawn to help underserved areas with their economic, education and health initiatives.