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Posted at 9:44 PM ET, 01/25/2011

What happens in Davos, happens in the world

By Raquel Helen Silva

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

"This is really happening!"

That was my thought when I woke up in the morning and saw the snowy Swiss mountains from my window. I could feel the genuine Davos spirit when I put my coat on and left with the other Changemakers and started walking to our meetings. The whole adventure was about to begin. I felt cold and excited, and the butterflies in my stomach reminded me I was about to meet Marta Arango Montoya, my mentor, for lunch. Sharing, laughing and being myself made that meal fantastic and I was amazed at the opportunity because she is a Social Entrepreneur of the Schwab Foundation.

After lunch I met the group again and got my badge. I read my name, saw my picture and put it on. This was real. I am a full participant of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. Some people in the streets look at us and wonder why we have the badges just like the "big guys" do. Some of them have said we are too young to be here and ask the reason we are here. No matter what the situation, we smile and tell how passionate and engaged we are and about our grassroots work.

This afternoon we went to a workshop and met the Young Global Leaders community. It was so great to know we have so much in common! I met Jill Otto, who is a YGL from Brazil. There were so many incredible people there and most of them were amazed by the fact I'm Brazilian. I invited everyone to come to the 2014 World Cup.

We then went to the opening reception. After that, we had dinner with Ambassador Sarah Gillett, the British ambassador to Switzerland. We talked about everything from inspiration to the challenges the world will face in 20 years. An unforgettable opportunity, especially for me, since I intend to work in the Brazilian Foreign Service. We had chocolate fondue for dessert and walked "home" slipping and laughing in the snow.

Mai taught me that "anan" means cloud in Hebrew, while we were reading Kofi Anan's bio in the book of the Forum's constituents. Every time I speak about the organization I helped found, React & Change, the first youth gender equality project in Brazil that includes both men and women, I keep in mind I am here representing a lot of passionate people who are working to make the world better. That makes me even more humbled, proud and delighted to attend Davos!

Then I thank God, my family, friends, and everyone who made this dream possible. I am definitely going to make the most of this experience and keep in mind all who can't attend but are with me in spirit.

Raquel began working in her local community at the age of 9. For the last decade, she has been involved in various volunteer efforts, from dance and teaching English to helping underprivileged children to 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 currently 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.

By Raquel Helen Silva  | January 25, 2011; 9:44 PM ET
Categories:  Raquel Helen Silva  
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