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Posted at 3:36 PM ET, 01/29/2011

Suitcase of memories

By Raquel Helen Silva

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

Today was the day. I could not believe how the week went fast. I can still remember the first e-mail we got telling us we were selected out of the 60 incredible Global Changemakers that had attended to the Global Youth Summit in London last November.

It took many drafts until we got to the final version of the IdeasLab, a five-minute presentation, with 15 slides. It was quite a short amount of time to put all your ideas, passion and will to change the world. Fluela Congress Center was the place, 9 a.m. was the time, and Anjali, Daniel, Mai, Raquel and Trevor were the names. And that was the opportunity of a lifetime: sharing our ideas and getting feedback from experts at the World Economic Forum! Wooow!

The room was cold; we wanted people to come - so much to see. My hands naturally get cold when I'm nervous and the weather was not helping much either. We went through the warmup, played games, made voice exercises and stretched. We had a couple of things in mind: It was supposed to be fun and even if nobody showed up, the whole effort had been worth it. Speaking at Davos about the dreams that keep us going was more than enough, it was amazing! Then people started coming and the session started.

Sir Vernon Ellis introduced the Global Changemakers network and then the moderator gave the floor to Dan. That was when the butterflies went crazy in my stomach! The thing was actually happening! Dan put all his energy into his presentation and I thought to myself: I have to go there and do my best, no matter what happened.

So I went and presented the Youth Empowerment Summit, a project by the React & Change Organization, the first youth-led initiative in Latin America aimed to promote gender equality through youth involvement. I had great comments on it and got great support, just like the other Davos Teens. We learned so much from the people attending our IdeasLab and we are definitely going back home with many great questions to be responded.

What I felt after the presentation? A mix of feelings. It was if I had this suitcase of memories of the drafts I have written since early December, the research I have made, the preparation we had in Zurich before coming to Davos. It was a mix of joy, relief and sadness, because the speech I was working on for the last couple of days had been delivered. However, I felt that my mission was completed and from there a new path was about to begin, in which I was supposed to make the dream turn into reality. I am so excited and I believe that this day will be in my memory forever.

Raquel began working in her local community at age 9. For the last decade, she has been involved in various volunteer efforts, from dance and teaching English to helping underprivileged children and 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 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 29, 2011; 3:36 PM ET
Categories:  Raquel Helen Silva  
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