Finding Home In An Unfamiliar Place

While we all have found a home in Southwest Virginia, some may be anticipating a change of scenery in the upcoming months.  

Whether it be a temporary stay at the beach, a study abroad trip to a foreign country or moving to a new city after graduation, finding a sense of home in an unfamiliar area is vital for truly valuing the grandeur of traveling.

Before Donna Price Henry came to UVa-Wise to serve as the eighth Chancellor, she had lived in various locations throughout the world while fulfilling an impressive career. Due to her travels, the knowledge of other cultures has left a tremendous impact on Henry’s life and worldview.

The Chancellor was first introduced to different cultures when she started undergraduate school in Philadelphia. “I grew up outside of Philadelphia, and then went to school in the city, and cities have different feelings,” said Chancellor Henry. “I lived really close to a big Italian neighborhood. On Saturdays, I would go to the Italian market and shop, so that has its own flavor.”

Of course, the many flavors of living in a new, unfamiliar area must have sparked a desire to explore life beyond the United States for Henry. To accompany her minor in Spanish, Chancellor Henry went on a study-abroad trip to Seville, Spain, where she studied various courses for six months.

“It opened my eyes to a world view,” Henry revealed. “Really going and living somewhere, taking classes with students from another country and becoming friends with people from Spain just gives you a different perspective on how they view things.”

With these perspectives freshly introduced to her at the time, it was only the beginning of a career brimming with travel. Just after Henry completed her master’s degree, she moved to London, England for a year. While living in the outskirts of London, Chancellor Henry said that becoming a part of the community helped her find a sense of home after being a continent away.

When Henry returned to the United States, she found a new home in Miami, Florida to teach at St. Thomas University. “I lived in Miami for about ten years, and Miami’s another really culturally diverse community,” said Henry. “The University that I taught at actually had Cuban roots; There were faculty who had actually been at the university when it was in Cuba before it moved to Miami, and it was a largely Hispanic serving institution. So, it was great to know the families and have a sense of that.”

Throughout the numerous destinations that Chancellor Henry has traveled to, the experiences led to an understanding that a home can be found just about anywhere with the right approach. Though there are challenges that arise, such as missing family and friends, Chancellor Henry expressed the importance of getting to know a wide range of people in a given community to establish a better sense of home in a foreign place.

“You’re there to work, but outside of work, you want to have a really enriched life, so I think those things are important,” Chancellor Henry added.

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