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Posted at 2:28 PM ET, 01/28/2011

Things come in threes

By Daniel Joshua Collum

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

There was a moment today when I had what Mum calls "woman's intuition." For those of you who don't know, I'm male -- but this was a moment when I knew that I knew.

He was a president. I just didn't know from what country.

I approached the first port of call, the big guy in black with the earpiece (sound like the movies?) I clumsily asked, "Is he a president?" I got a look that suggested I was the biggest idiot on the face of the earth and was physically pushed back. Obviously, the little push was just the encouragement I needed to really meet this president.

I saw the presidential seal on a bag his assistant was carrying: "The Republic of Dominica" -- bingo! As the man himself turned around, I waved my hands in the air, then, once his attention was firmly fixed on my almost dancing to get attention, I mimed a question, asking for a handshake.

He smiled, began to walk over, and as he shook my hand I politely gave the guy in black a cheeky smile; I invited my fellow Changemakers over, asked for photo opportunities and then it all went wrong...

Trying to curry favour with the man, I told him I'd done a research paper on his country, forgetting he was the President of the Dominican REPUBLIC and not DOMINICA. I realised that the small nation of Dominica, with banana exports accounting for 70 percent of GDP was not his nation.

To make matters worse, he began to ask myriad questions about "my research." I diplomatically played it down, avoiding questions, when the teacher really started scraping her fingers on the blackboard. He asked me to send him my paper, gave me his assistant's card, took down my name and said he was expecting an e-mail soon.

Your thoughts? Should I have come clean? Told the president I ignorantly confused his country with another? Write another research paper?

Rest of the day? Shook hands with Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, President Zuma of South Africa and Prime Minister Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe. Sounds surreal when put like that, but those conversations happen at Davos.

Still wrapping my head around it.

Living the Dream.

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. To reach that goal, he has been working with underprivileged Maori and Pacific Island youth in South Auckland who are exposed to drugs, alcohol abuse and domestic violence through local camps for youth and sports events. 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 sport, music and theatre. He is now studying at the University of Auckland on the University of Auckland scholars program, majoring in Politics and Economics.

Return to the Insiders' Guide to Davos 2011 page

By Daniel Joshua Collum  | January 28, 2011; 2:28 PM ET
Categories:  Daniel Joshua Cullum  
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Next: Man(n)'s Magic Contradictions


The Bears explain the Bailouts....

Posted by: pauldia | January 29, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the total waste of my time.

Keep your tales of personal embarrassment or celebrity chasing for your friends, please.

Posted by: j3hess | January 29, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

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