Just the beginning
British Council Global Changemakers is a network of young social entrepreneurs and community activists from 110 countries worldwide.
D-A-V-O-S, The very word that left me sleepless for nights. Not just in excitement but in anticipation and looking back, time has flown by and I am finally here in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. As a visual artist I cannot explain the visual impact the place has had on me over the past 24 hours. The mountains, the snow, the buildings, the people, the cheese and chocolate, just about everything. Well that's a lot to take in considering that today was just the first day of the World Economic Forum 2011. A place where heads of state, businessmen and entrepreneurs in all walks of expertise participate and then there is us, the Global Changemakers who are the youngest participants at the Forum.
The Forum by itself is overwhelming in its very proportion and I would be lying if I said that I was not completely nervous. The day began with a half-hour walk up a snowy hill to an Italian café for lunch. We met with Sophie Bussmann- Kemdjo the senior community relations manager of Africa at the World Economic Forum. During our meeting, we discussed bukilding more youth engagement in Africa. The best part of the meetings so far has been the valuable insight that everyone has to offer.
We then left for a session with the Young Global Leaders. I was stunned by the number of people who were there -- all of them from such a range of backgrounds. We split into groups depending upon our interests. I joined a session on creativity and the value of high art. During the session, I spoke with artist Lera Auerbach and producer Rafael Destella and their views on investment in art and identifying the right talent in the new reality and providing appropriate support. One of the highlights of my session was when I got an opportunity to meet Enric Sala, a National Geographic Fellow and a marine biologist whom I deeply admire. Using my art to spread a message about environmental problems is something that I hold very close to my heart and meeting him was a wonderful experience.
Dinner came next. Ah, the Swiss - Don't they just love food? I feel like I'm almost Swiss already. We had a dinner session with Sarah Gillett, the British Ambassador to Switzerland. We had the chance to ask her questions relating to her life, her inspirations, her experiences of being a diplomat and the pros and cons of traveling and holding a high stress job. It was nice to see her open up and talk to us.
After the oh-so-delicious chocolate fondue we headed for another 30 minute walk back to our lovely Swiss house. By that point, it had started snowing -- my first-ever experience with snow. It was just magical to look up in the sky and see the flakes fall on my face. The chill of the snow that melted onto my gloves made me realize that this is just the beginning of one very cool experience.
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.