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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 01/27/2011

Putting it into perspective

By Daniel Joshua Cullum

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

There are moments in life that define us. In all honesty, I expected Davos to do that; I didn't know in which or what way, but I had this feeling it would.

So, did I find a moment or person which helped define me this first Davos day?

I did, actually.

But let me put things into perspective for you first before you judge me for naivety or for having a blind R&J type love for the Forum.

I got the opportunity to meet and see some crazy people:

Joseph Stiglitz: I have a friend called John-boy, he says that after religion, comes economics. There is no giant in the economic world like Stiglitz. I had the opportunity to share dinner with the Nobel Prize Laureate and talk about the "perils of economic prediction."

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: The MD of the World Bank had such a presence and humility about her. The woman who single-handily eradicated corruption in her home country of Nigeria was actually interested in the lives of my fellow Changemakers and I. She was human, real.

Klaus Schwab:The director/founder/brainbox of the World Economic Forum. 15 minutes. Changemakers are the only delegation outside of Heads of State that get private meetings with the professor. Genuine, and a gentleman.

Dmitry Medvedev: I didn't meet personally but saw his speech, which was less than exciting and the rounding off with a 10 point recap did not sit well with many in the audience. However, seeing the Russian President in the flesh was an experience in itself. It really put into perspective the concept of power, how one man could hold so much of it and have such a large influence.

There was a real sense of a "Rat Race" in the Congress Centre and a whole bunch of schmoozing. A kind introduction was oft followed by quick glances of the surrounding area to see who the next connection would be.

Coming back to the importance of perspective, regardless of who I met or rubbed elbows with today, truly, honestly, from the bottom of my heart, none of it mattered, because I had found perspective.

The UN Refugee Run had me frustrated, angry, rebellious and even dangerous. It opened my eyes to the real reason why I'm here at Davos, why I'll never belong in a suit, why I do what I do.

I cried my eyes out into the shoulder of a former child soldier from Uganda when he told me his story after the UN simulation game. We shared our faith, our hopes, what he had been through and my heart ached at my ignorance.

The rich and famous lose their appeal when you're faced with a moment that defines your outlook. I'm grateful for every opportunity here, but perspective, true perspective, is priceless.

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 third 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 27, 2011; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Daniel Joshua Cullum  
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