Meet Felipe Parra
“This one's fucking gnarly. My family and I were living in the West Coast of Africa on assignment for my parent’s line of work. This was during the Bush presidency, back when there was always incredibly interesting stories about the militarization of Africa and western exploitation of natural resources. My father was asked to turn around one of their projects, which was in a seriously distressed situation.
However from the minute we arrive, I realized that we were in a tough situation. We had to be caravanned by the military at all times due to tension between the private and public sectors. Effectively, my whole life there, I was constantly around military. Something I’ll never forget from my childhood is seeing an emotionless guard sitting in the passenger seat of the car comfortably holding an AK-47 by his side. It was a surreal experience, looking back on it these days. Anyways, it was the early 2000s when my father went to meet some partners at this slick Asian restaurant known as The Dragon. That night, my mother gets a call from my father. My father tells her in Spanish, “hey honey, don’t freak out, but I won’t be coming home tonight.”
I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but my mother was freaking out and we were taken to a family friend’s home. We just sat there and waited. There was no communication from my father and understandably, my mother thought that something had happened to my him.
Finally, we get a call from him and he tells us that they had let him go. What had happened was the union surrounded the penthouse with firearms, locked it down, and killed the electricity. They held him there as long as they could, but my father just wouldn’t let up and finally, I think government officials were forced to intervene.
I didn’t really understand the gravitas of the moment, but now thinking back on it, it’s opened my eyes to the realities of social and economic struggles seen vis-a-vi the interaction between the militarized political factions of West Africa and the corporate interests of multinationals in the region.
Now, it’s absolutely clear to me that conflict resolution is one of the most crucial skill sets to have as a human being, but more importantly as a young man trying to change the world one vision at a time. Expat Society has enabled me to develop my global communication skills in pursuit of that very objective.”
Felipe is the founder of The Artist Corporation, which is set to launch May 1st, and he will hand over the company when he heads to New York City after graduation to work at JP Morgan.