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

I'm a Changemaker

By Daniel Joshua Cullum

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

I'm throwing diplomacy out the window with this bad boy. Nineteen years old, in Davos at the World Economic Forum. This is only going to happen once in my life, and I'm not going to spend any time sounding like every other 60-year-old CEO here. In a sea of suits, my 'I Am Dan' t-shirt is going to stand out. In the myriad of bald heads, my 12-inch rat's tail is going to fly in the Swiss winds. In a world of 'black and polished', my clumpy cherry Docs are 'living the dream'.

This is why I'm in Davos. I'm a Changemaker.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I was nervous. I'm a kid in this place, getting stares left, right and center from people at least twice, or a probable three times my age wondering why I'm wearing the coveted full participant badge of a Davosian.

At the same time, preparing for the panels and debates that I will be a part of is occupying my mind: faith and the role of religion in peacemaking, the global talent mobility crisis, the BBC live world debate, the Global Changemaker's Ideas Lab session as well as contemplating being translated into seven different languages on Sunday's closing plenary as I sit with France's finance minister and tell the world how to be 'Inspired for a Lifetime'.

I'm feeling incredibly blessed to have such an opportunity, but I'm not about to get carried away in a hot air balloon. Spilling coffee on myself today while meeting the chief financial officer of NASDAQ and then knocking glasses and candles during at dinner with the British Ambassador to Switzerland are small and comforting reminders that I'm here in Davos because of me, who I am, and not because of a title.

I may not be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but I know I've got an idea that is already a reality in 9 countries: that if young people can commit to wearing the same t-shirt for a whole year, they can change the world.

The I Am Challenge works by daring young people to wear the same shirt for a whole year, raising funds, awareness and volunteering in their own communities for issues they are passionate about. At Davos, I'm going to show the business and political elite of our planet that youth empowerment is one t-shirt away and hope to get funding for 1,000 participants to empower youth to make positive social change in developing nations, especially in the Pacific Islands.

This week is going to be the man.

Dan is concerned most with the issues in the Pacific Islands near his home New Zealand. He dreams of creating awareness and making a tangible difference in the communities whose dire social situations are often overlooked because their needs are dwarfed by other world issues. Through you camps and sporting events, he has been working with underprivileged Maori and Pacific Island youth in South Auckland who are exposed to drugs, alcohol and domestic violence. He has won three national public speaking titles and most recently came 3rd at the English Speaking Union International Public Speaking Competition, where over 40,000 youth around the globe participated. Dan was Head Boy of Botany Downs Secondary College in East Auckland, and has always been active in sports, music and theater. He is now studying at the University of Auckland on the University of Auckland scholars program, majoring in politics and economics.

By Daniel Joshua Cullum  | January 25, 2011; 11:25 PM ET
Categories:  Daniel Joshua Cullum  
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Next: A Small Town and a Big Forum: First Impressions from Davos

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