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Posted at 12:34 PM ET, 01/28/2011

An extreme experience

By Raquel Helen Silva

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

I could not believe that the alarm had gone off. I felt as if I had just lain down and it was time to be up. Being in Davos is such an extreme experience: it requires a lot from your mind, since you are supposed to be focused, tell people about what you do and who you are, and say things that make sense. It requires a lot from the body too. I met someone who is still jet-lagged from traveling. I feel I sometimes can't breathe because of the cold weather. Tension and accumulated tiredness make your body feel heavy to carry. I am actually learning how to learn how to walk in the snow. I invented a new sport, "bootboarding," which consists of trying to walk without falling in the melting snow wearing boots.

Our busy schedule started with the Faith Factor workshop. Dan, Mai and I went there to share our opinions concerning the role of faith, religion and values in shaping society. I was sitting with nice people, staring at this huge glass window. I could see how my day was brighter, literally, because I could see the sun coming from behind the mountains. There were various pine trees and I could see how sun embraced them, making them look like they were alive. The sunlight went from the top of the mountain, to the trees and inside the room. The whole city was shinning, people walking and smiling.

What I thought was the most interesting today is that I learned how contrasts can show you how much pairs share. Imagine a house: it is super cold outside and inside it is warm and cozy. That is what all people are in the end.. Another comparison was with the sunlight and the darkness of the night. It is interesting how snow glows in the darkness when the lights from the cars hits it. It is all about taking the first step and daring to be the light for someone or even yourself.

In the afternoon we went to a high school to share our experiences and inspire the young people there. We replied to questions ranging from aspirations in life to what is it like to be at the Forum. It was a lot of fun, we laughed, told stories and everybody participated. It was great to be there and be in touch with people our age who can't come to the WEF, but who still have a lot to say. I felt like myself in that place, being an ordinary teenager, who checks Facebook never often enough and who hopes to be happy throughout her life.Sometimes people forget that you are who you are,regardless of the things you have achieved, so it was great.

We met Lord Carter and Lorenzo Mendoza who provided us with this great and in depth talk. As soon as we finished, we managed to go to see Bill Clinton's very insightful speech. I then ran to the session I was leading on the role models for the 21st century. I felt a little nervous, but by the time I started talking all the butterflies were gone. Anjali and Mai were there too, supporting me.Later on, Mai and I made it to Brazilian Nightcap. It was good to meet some fellow citizens and get in touch with interesting people.Can't wait for the rehearsal of Ideas Lab and the Women Leaders session tomorrow!

Raquel began working in her local community at the age of 9. For the last decade, she has been involved in various volunteer efforts, from dance and teaching English to helping underprivileged children to collecting, separating and selling recycled materials to raise funds for community projects. She has served as a Brazilian Youth Ambassador in the United States since 2008, and in 2009 she was the only Brazilian delegate in the Women2Women America Conference. Raquel believes in the power of great ideas, curiosity and opportunities. She is currently enrolled at the Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais, where she is studying international relations, and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, where she is studying government. Raquel is fascinated by different cultures, which is why she has learned how to say "butterfly" in more than 20 languages.

Return to the Insiders' Guide to Davos 2011 page

By Raquel Helen Silva  | January 28, 2011; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  Raquel Helen Silva  
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