Why should you become a BRAVE-Maker?


The following is a summary from the ACAN Youth Talk given by Emlyn Lee on May 29. 

Follow Emlyn Lee on Twitter @brave_atx

Join ACAN Youth on Discord to CONNECT, LEARN & SERVE (https://discord.gg/9VTSe7q) 



If you couldn’t achieve something just because of your skin color, what would you do?


Unfortunately, Emlyn Lee had to witness this when she was only in 5th grade. She noticed that the main roles of a play at her school were all white students, even though there were other more talented, non-white students. When she was in 6th grade, the same happened to her and her best friend; they were given the supporting roles despite being more fit for the main.


Emlyn is the 5th (and youngest) daughter of her family. While her 1st and 3rd sisters had a gift for math and her 2nd and 4th sisters had art skills, Emlyn was sort of the “black sheep” of her family. Although she wasn’t good at a specific subject, she had great people skills and as a result, she was very aware of the injustices happening around her.


Angered by the unfairness, Emlyn encouraged the ”minority”

 classmates to boycott the play. This would be the beginning of her fight to bring awareness to the social injustice happening around us.


Many years later in 2001, after the tragic 9/11 attacks, Emlyn was inspired to start her first company. She and a group of volunteers helped Americans, predominantly 18-30 years old, to travel abroad to ~29 countries in 5 continents with  an immersive experience.. She worked on this business for about 10 years until she sold it.


In 2015, after multiple African Americans being shot to death because of their skin color, Emlyn created BRAVE Communities, a program dedicated to spreading awareness to social justice, amplifying voices of the marginalized, and advocating various political events, such as the census.


BRAVE stands for: Build Relationships Awareness Voices Engagement


BRAVE Communities is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers a variety of programs and services for the Greater Austin area and beyond. They host monthly community conversations, organize a monthly community celebration called “BRAVE-Fest”, and host young leaders for U.S. Department of State cultural and educational programs. This year, 2020, has two significant events: the US Census and the national presidential election, which only fall on the same year every 20 years. Because of the lasting impact that these two events will have over the next few years, Emlyn is hosting a summer program for female-identifying youth between the ages of 15-21 years old.  


This program, called BRAVE-Makers, is a leadership and social change program for young women. During this program, young women will develop leadership skills, explore racial identity, promote peer accountability, and become influencers for positive social change.


Right now we are living in a historic time. The COVID-19 pandemic not only caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, but revealed the inequities of living standard and access to healthcare among communities of color. The tragic death of George Floyd and many others show this. Not only that, but the two greatest powers in the world, China and the US, have increased tensions.


It is in this context that Emlyn came to speak to ACAN Youth last Friday and shared with us her life journey, her passion, and what we can do as ACAN Youth. Just as Emlyn said, “as an Asian American, this is probably the most impactful  time of our life. We can rise up and become an agent of change, a BRAVE-Maker.”

“as an Asian American, this is probably the most impactful  time of our life. We can rise up and become an agent of change, a BRAVE-Maker.”

-Emlyn Lee 





Meals Prepared


lbs of Food Sorted

Vicina Youth at Central Texas Food Bank

“As we work, we become united; we help each other without even needing to be asked– a hand to lift a heavy box there, or moving boxes out of their way.”

At first glance, the food bank does not look like a food bank. The building is quite large, and seems to be impossibly clean, which is exactly the opposite of other food banks I’ve been to.

Inside, waits clusters of people. To one side is a troop of Girl Scouts, all around the age of 10, along with their parents. On another side are a few groups of people, maybe families or other organizations similar to Vicina.

Once we’ve all checked in via the kiosks, an employee of a food bank walks up and explains to us the rules of the food bank: no tank tops, open toed shoes, gum, etc. She leads us past a large kitchen and into the product recovery room, where we are greeted by other employees, and told that we are to sort through frozen food today.

We are split into different groups. Six of our students go to help move around the finished products, and the rest of us help pass out food that needs to be distributed to the sorters. Other jobs include banana box lifters and trash sorters.

We work for three hours straight. Although there’s a break room, none of our students go to use it. While we work, background music is played, along with a football game (but most of it is ads). As we work, we become united; we help each other without even needing to be asked– a hand to lift a heavy box there, or moving boxes out of their way.

When we’re done, it seems like no time has passed. We all smile at each other, hearing the employee give us the stats: we’ve sorted through over 7,000 pounds of food, resulting in about 6,500 meals.

Rock climbing in Wyoming
20 days and 20 nights backpacking and rock climbing in Wind River Mountain Range
Ran the half marathon at age 13 and full marathon at age 14
Canoeing on Buffalo river, AR
Performing the violin for the elderly
Volunteering at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village in China
Volunteering at a food bank in New Orleans

Living in a Fearful World

Dear Reader,


The world we live in is a world full of anxiety, stress, and doubt. This is not a new discovery, but it isn’t a topic that we teenagers reflect upon often. However, the truth still stands: we live in a world of fear. In fact, a while ago, my dad said this: “I’ve been alive for XX years, but this is the first time I’ve seen the world in so much fear [due to the coronavirus outbreak],” and it got me thinking.


From the very start of our lives, even before we are born, our parents are worried for our life, our health, our future. As we grow up and start making friends, we start experiencing something known as “fear of missing out.” As we mature into young adults, we start becoming anxious for our own futures. When we grow older and have families, we become stressed about our own children’s lives, their health, and their future. And on and on it goes.


Various researchers have determined that one of the factors influencing our decision making (both consciously and unconsciously), is our emotions, fear being one of the main ones. Fear can cause us to overthink, make crazy decisions, and lose options when we put off or avoid difficult decisions.


A few weeks ago, a student who studies in America flew back to the U.S. from China. Although he hadn’t been anywhere near any confirmed or suspected the coronavirus, once the news of his return was leaked to his classmates, parents started calling and insisting that the principal needed to suspend the student from school. This student’s own family members were afraid of the .001% chance of him having the virus that they thought about setting up a tent in their backyard to quarantine him, causing the principal to step in and allow the student to live in her home.


Bless the principal. Pray for the parents.


Although this problem will never be solved, there are many steps that we can take that will help us live fearlessly in a world of fear. Here are a few:

Be cautious but brave

It’s impossible to be completely fear-free, but instead of turning that fear into something negative, be cautious when needed. If you’re stressed out because of the coronavirus, for example, wash your hands often and sneeze into your elbow. Encourage your friends and family to do the same, if they don’t already. However, there is no need to wear a face mask wherever you go and discriminate against Chinese people.


You only live once, so don’t spend your whole life too afraid to do something new. Someday in the future when you look back at your life, I guarantee that at least half of your most regrettable moments have something to do with fear.

Take calculated risks

Of course I’m not telling you to do anything dumb, but wouldn’t you rather die having attempted to climb Mount Everest (with serious training) than dying with no significant achievements in your life because you were too afraid to go out of your comfort zone?

Open your eyes

Don’t be blind to other views. Listen to other people’s perspectives. And if you decide to do something about it, at least get your facts straight.


When the coronavirus first broke out, a group of Chinese (half from Shanghai, the other half from Wuhan) were in Japan, ready to board their flight back to China. They had all been in Japan for a few weeks, before the virus even broke out. However, when the Shanghainese heard the Wuhan people’s dialect, they refused to board the plane and instead demanded that the airline send another plane just for them. When people are this divided, how can they ever hope to solve the bigger problem?

No one is perfect

There is no such thing as perfect, and it’s normal to be afraid. What matters is what you will do with that fear. Will you use it to do something for the good of the world or will you turn it into something harmful to others?

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name;

you are Mine.”

-Isaiah 43:1