Medellín pride

@Roberto Arribas

Lupita Prada is a Colombian student at IE University who is extremely passionate about diplomacy, foreign policy, and Latin America.

Medellín is the second-most-populated city in Colombia.  It has recently been recognized as one of the best cities to live in South America.  What’s more, just six years ago, it was crowned the most innovative city in the world in the “City of the Year” competition, which was organized by The Wall Street Journal, among others. Now, the many years of drug trafficking, which led Medellín to become known as one of the most violent cities in the world, seem long in the past.  In fact, the country is now onto a new era, one in which the ostentatious “Monaco” building, previously owned by the sinister Medellín drug lord Pablo Escobar, was to be demolished.  

For Lupita Prada, a 21-year-old Colombian student at IE University, Medellín is home. For her, it is a city that “is synonymous with joy” and “has been able to overcome all adversities that have been thrown its way, as well as overcoming this damaging image which has been known to link the city with drug trafficking.” As the demolition of the “Monaco” building was taking place, Lupita decided to write an article in which she asked people to once and for all overcome this stigma associated with her city.  She wrote: “Medellín is not Pablo Escobar; Medellín is innovation, entrepreneurship, and strength. It is music, art, and literature. It is nature, tradition, color, and fruitfulness. Medellín is joy and solidarity.”

Medellín pride dual Degree in Laws and International Relations

The article, titled “Medellín, the Phoenix” (Spanish original: “Medellín como un Ave Fénix”), reached audiences far and wide. It was first published in The Global View, a blog dedicated to delving deep into international affairs and political and legal concepts. It then came into the hands of Medellín’s mayor, Federico Gutiérrez, who sent Lupita a message himself, congratulating her and inviting her to continue her work in fighting for their city.  Following on from its success, the article reached new heights, including: being read during a broadcast on Medellín’s radio station, Radio Múnera Eastman, during the program “Al Derecho y Al Revés”; being published in the online newspaper The Stork; and also in the Spanish newspaper El Adelantado de Segovia.  This student of the Dual Degree in Laws and International Relations at IE University is without a doubt one of the best ambassadors for Medellín out there.

When Lupita finishes her studies in Spain, she wishes to return to Colombia and enroll in the Diplomatic Academy in Bogotá. However, first she will pursue a master’s degree, possibly in International Law or Latin American Studies. She also wants to enhance her professional experience by working for international non-profit organizations.

Lupita Prada, who speaks four languages (Spanish, English, French, and Italian) is extremely passionate about diplomacy, foreign policy, and Latin America. She is a young woman who keeps up with the times: a strong feminist, committed to fulfilling her duties as a human being, always open to discussions, and always on the search for different points of views and ways of thinking. 

This global spirit has been instilled in her from a very young age and has been growing and growing ever since.  It’s no surprise that, during her first years at high school, she was actively involved in Model United Nations—UN simulations in which each participant plays an important role, whether it be a nation’s delegate or the secretary general. 

“I played a many different roles in these activities.  In fact, I graduated from high school having participated in 26 simulations. I played the role of delegate for many countries and I was the president of several commissions, until finally I could play the role of secretary general of the largest simulation in the region, Antioquia. This simulation was organized by the regional government and over one thousand students from the area attended.  As secretary general, I had to organize all the committees, the presidents, and the countries, as well as the debate topics. It was a difficult and stressful job, but it was also immensely rewarding,” Lupita says proudly.

On the other hand, this young Colombian also loves to write, and she is especially passionate about discussing issues related to law and international relations. Just over one year ago, Lupita Prada and fellow IE University student Volodymyr Lakomov—along with “a group of wonderful people”—founded the online newspaper “The Stork.” Here, Lupita acts as editor for the opinion section, in which students have the opportunity to unleash their views and concerns. 

International

In Lupita Prada’s opinion, it is essential to learn about the supranational institutions where major global issues are taken to be discussed.  With this in mind, she completed an internship at the Organization of American States (OAS), an institution which aims to serve as a political forum for decision-making, multilateral dialogue, and the integration of The Americas.  The IE University student spent around three months in Washington D.C., working for one of the organization’s most important sectors, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, which is responsible for promoting and defending human rights throughout the continent.  “It was an incredibly enriching experience because not only did I have the opportunity to witness firsthand Latin American diplomacy, but I was also able to meet a group of people who were all incredibly passionate about their continent and making the world a better place,” she says.

As for her future plans, Lupita Prada has already been offered two other internships. On the one hand, she has been accepted to undergo an internship at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. this summer.  On the other hand, she’s also been accepted to work at the Agency for International Cooperation of Medellín, which is responsible for promoting the Colombian city throughout many countries around the globe “and making it a place for investment opportunities and where major events can be held, as well as, in general, giving it the international recognition it deserves.” “It is now up to me to choose between the two internships, but the fact that I have been accepted by two institutions is a great honor and recognition,” she says.

Segovia

Lupita Prada spent her first three years studying in Segovia. She then spent a semester as an exchange student at Bocconi University in Milan, an institution renowned for its specialization in economics. She is now completing her fourth year studying at IE University in Madrid.

In this way, Segovia was Lupita Prada’s first home in Spain.  It was her first point of contact with our country, so she takes great pride in calling it her first Spanish home.  The Colombian student has fond memories of her time in Segovia as “it is a very open and welcoming city where I made my first university friends, who are still my classmates today.” According to Lupita, the fact that the IE University campus is situated in a small city makes it the ideal space for fostering authentic relationships with other people and getting to know other cultures and ways of thinking.  “My first years at university have been an incredible experience as I have had the opportunity to meet young people from many countries, who speak different languages, and who come from different cultures. It has been an incredibly enriching experience,” she says.

Medellín is her home, and her heart will always be there. Nonetheless, Segovia is now part of her identity. Once she graduates from IE University, she aims to pursue a career in diplomacy and to continue to show the world all the good that Colombia has to offer.  A final message: “Let us never forget that, above all, Medellín is a city of joy,” she concludes.