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Posted at 8:49 AM ET, 01/27/2011

Davos Changemakers: Day 2

By Anjali Chandrashekar

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

Day 2- A day that will remain etched in my memory in times to come. There was so much about today that made it special. So we woke up really early and set off on a freezing walk through knee-deep snow to the UNHCR Refugee run. Well, contrary to our understanding it had nothing to do with running. It was a 25-minute simulation that put us through a hair-raising experience to help better the understanding of what refugees go through and it gave me a whole new perspective about the situation. First we were put into pitch dark tents with soldiers patrolling and we had to keep our heads down all the time. I was given the identity of a married woman with four children and the only possession I had was some jewelery and I had to flee with what I had. We came from a community where the women wore head scarves and didn't talk to men who were not immediate family. Through the entire process we were put in a camp where we learned about land mines and I also had to trade my watch for a glass of water and a piece of bread, which was subsequently stolen by a fellow tent-mate. The final part that left me shocked was when three young women, including me, were robbed of our identities and in danger of being sold. It made me realize the realities of life and I felt that I was an extremely lucky to be just the way I am.

This was followed by a wonderful session called "Powerful Portraits: What's in a face?" by photographer Platon Antoniou. Then we had a session with financier Jitesh Gadhia where we discussed a variety of topics. I then met with my Social Entrepreneur Buddy -- Jeroo Billimoria who is the founder of Aflatoun.

At 3 p.m. we had one of the best meetings of the day. We met with the Professor Schwab, the man behind the World Economic Forum. And even though it was just 15 minutes it was really nice to get to know him and share our activism with him too. I also got to give him my painting which was pretty awesome to imagine that I have left a part of what I do with the Forum.

My favorite part of the day was our meeting with the managing director of the World Bank Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who happens to be a genuinely nice person with so much information and experience to share. I loved every minute that I spoke with her. The Crystal Award followed: A.R Rahman one of India' favorite composers and singers was honored. This was followed by the Opening Plenary session with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who flew in to speak despite the current state of affairs in the country.

Finally I set off to the dinner session where I was one of the discussion leaders for the topic, "Budding artist, fertilizer needed," which focused on the key enabling factors for the success of budding artists and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion.

To sum up the day, I would say it was one roller-coaster ride - the energy, the people, the ideas, the happiness, the struggle that we learned that people went through in different parts of the world just made me both happy and grateful to be a part of the Forum, because after all the aim is to live through the roller-coaster that is life.

Anjali is a two-time national award-winning visual artist and activist and has been using her artwork to raise funds and awareness for many national and international organizations. She believes that art is a universal language and a tool that cuts across barriers of language, religion and literacy. Anjali is passionate about the environment and the preservation of biodiversity, and she uses art as medium of education. Her paintings have also been used in international auctions to raise funds for diabetes research, buying insulin for children in developing countries and funding free dialysis for poor kidney patients. The sale of related merchandise has benefited numerous organizations that work against child abuse, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease and smoking. She is a Rotary Youth Ambassador and gives talks at various schools and forums to help empower youth. In addition she helps integrate and rehabilitate orphans, physically and mentally challenged children by teaching them art. She has represented India at World School International Forum and the International Diabetes Federation. Anjali is currently in the 12th Grade at Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Junior College (PSBBJC) in Chennai, India.

By Anjali Chandrashekar  | January 27, 2011; 8:49 AM ET
Categories:  Anjali Chandrashekar  
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