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Posted at 11:35 PM ET, 01/25/2011

A Small Town and a Big Forum: First Impressions from Davos

By Trevor Richard Dougherty

British Council Global Changemakers is a network of young social entrepreneurs and community activists from 110 countries worldwide.

The trip to Davos is a Swiss dream. On the train from Zurich, we pass majestic lakes and frozen streams, and the snow gets deeper as we climb higher into the mountains. A two-hour journey takes us to the small town that hosts one of the world's most significant gatherings of global leaders. The World Economic Forum's youngest participants have arrived!

After a traditional meal of cheese fondue on our first night, we set out on Monday morning for our first day in Davos. We enjoyed a session with the Young Global Leaders, participating on workshops and discussions on a wide range of topics from media and transparency to entrepreneurship and data management. Later we stopped at the registration tent, where well-dressed staffers gave us fancy bags and programs, and we continued past security into the Congress Centre. With World Economic Forum signs and bright lights in every corner, we had a few minutes to soak in the atmosphere before dashing to a meeting with the British Ambassador to Switzerland Sarah Gillett. We also stop at the infamous "Piano Bar" (where the Davos greats hang out, apparently), but apparently the party hasn't started yet. So we bail, because blogs need to be written.

Trudging through the snow on the way back to our apartment, the Promenade (the main street in Davos) is quiet and peaceful. A couple of camera crews and groups with Forum badges are the only signs that anything out of the ordinary is going on. Somehow, it feels like Davos hasn't been overrun by the Forum. Maybe this is a well-orchestrated illusion, but, so far, I have really appreciated this seemingly serene atmosphere.

Who am I to talk about serenity? My mind is exploding with all the possible connections I could be making in the coming days. I'm blogging at 2 a.m., and the Forum doesn't even officially open until Wednesday. Time for a few hours of sleep until the next round. Here we go!

Trevor has been an online activist since 2007. He is one of CNN's top citizen journalists, as about 100 of his "iReports" have been broadcast as part of the network's global news coverage. He is also a YouTube Partner and the youngest person ever to have moderated the YouTube homepage as a "guest editor." A particularly empowered member of the Millennial Generation, Trevor has been harnessing the Internet's power in creating social change through "viral" outreach. His videos have been viewed over 3 million times by people in at least 100 countries. In 2008 he organized the world's largest human peace sign in Upstate New York, bringing 6,000 people together largely through targeted Facebook advertising and a low-budget online video clip. He finished high school in Swaziland, Southern Africa, affirming his belief that Internet access needs to be established as a right -- not a privilege -- for young people worldwide. Trevor will begin his tertiary education in the United States in the fall of 2011.

By Trevor Richard Dougherty  | January 25, 2011; 11:35 PM ET
Categories:  Trevor Richard Dougherty  
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Next: Davos Changemakers: Day 2

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