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Posted at 11:07 PM ET, 01/30/2011

What an honor

By Daniel Joshua Cullum

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

I was asked today in front of hundreds of business and political leaders -- on live Swiss TV, streamed around the world, translated into eight languages -- what inspires me.

What an honor.

I think of my life one short year ago, how I had no clue as to what the following year had in store, how every little test and challenge prepares us for the next one. How in life we are blessed with moments and people we don't deserve, and how sometimes we get dealt a situation and challenge that we cannot handle in our own strength.

When asked as a 19-year-old what inspires me -- in front of an audience twice my age, many of whom are leaders and pioneers in their fields -- I felt this wave of despair come over me that anything I said would seem completely naive.

Although I felt I couldn't say something hugely profound or intellectual, I had a question -- something practical. I asked the audience how many of them in the past year had willingly, for the pure joy of it, jumped in puddles in the rain.

Only a handful, out of hundreds.

Three years ago, five of my friends passed away tragically in a river canyon flash flood. Two of them had a motto that the whole community clung to after they passed away: "Jump in puddles." No matter what the situation, no matter how hard the rain is coming down, we can always find joy if we choose to do so. Why do we rush out of the rain? Why not live, be alive and jump in those puddles?

It is so important in life to be faithful with the small, to then be able to be trusted with the large. How can we find true joy in life and know how to truly value the most significant things such as our relationships and children if we don't know how to find joy in the small things? That is my humble opinion.

My challenge to the audience was to take that chance the next time it rains to live in that childlike freedom, with the hope that the small action, the metaphor, will transcend into true inspiration for living. It was an honor to be able to share the inspiration my friends were to me with the world.

The spirit of Davos was in that room. Regardless of what the media, the bloggers, the individuals, or even the staffs say, there was a real sense of hope in the audience.

To open my ears and listen to the other panelists -- the hope they have for the future, their inspirations -- was the perfect ending to Davos.

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 young people in South Auckland who are exposed to drugs, alcohol abuse and domestic violence through local camps for young people and sporting events. He has won three national public speaking titles and most recently came in third at the English Speaking Union International Public Speaking Competition, where more than 40,000 young people around the world 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 a scholars program, majoring in politics and economics.

By Daniel Joshua Cullum  | January 30, 2011; 11:07 PM ET
Categories:  Daniel Joshua Cullum  
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