Suffolk’s new ambassador to Spain

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whoever said people from small towns never leave their homes has never met Bracey Parr.

Not only is Parr, who is the 2011 Nansemond-Suffolk Academy valedictorian, leaving Virginia for college, he is leaving the United States.

When he told me he was going to St. Louis University, I was already pretty surprised he has going so far away from home, but then, when he said he’d be going to the Madrid campus, I was astonished, not to mention extremely jealous.

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But Parr isn’t at all worried about being thousands of miles from home. He said he thinks he’s ready for a change in scenery, because he has attended the same school since preschool and lived in the same city since he was born.

Whereas some college-bound students are nervous about being an hour away, Parr is more than ready to be an ocean away.

But this isn’t his first trip away from home. He said his whole family has a passion for traveling, and they often take yearly trips to faraway places.

This summer, his family had a Mediterranean cruise planned, but when the flight to Italy was canceled, they took a trip to the Caribbean instead.

He said he was a little disappointing that he didn’t get the chance to brush up his Italian, but he was glad to practice his Spanish, especially because he leaves for Madrid next month.

After speaking to Parr for a couple of hours, I think he’s greatly benefited from all of his travels. More than having a good understanding of other cultures, he has a great understanding of himself.

He is confident in his actions, and he doesn’t second-guess himself.

Even though he is going to be at an American university, Parr will live with a host family in a town close to the university and speak Spanish almost all the time. But even with that, he isn’t worried about the move.

In fact, he said, he originally wanted to get even deeper into the culture by attending a Spanish university, but he changed his mind to ensure his college credits would transfer back to America.

He might have been born with it, but I think Parr’s carefree confidence comes from his exposure of the world. He isn’t anxious about heading to Spain, because this is just a new experience — just like going to a new place — and he’ll just be staying longer than usual.

I was really impressed that Parr isn’t fazed by the big step he is about to take, and I think Suffolk can be proud it will have someone like him representing the city in Europe.