Monday, September 1, 2008

Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin: Three Cups of Tea

"The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger.
The second time, you are an honored guest.
The third time you become family."

Last winter, it seemed like everyone I knew was reading Three Cups of Tea. And now I know why. It's not a gripping page-turner. It's not a literary masterpiece. It's a simple, inspiring, true story about how one person with vision and determination can truly make a difference in the world.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time follows the story of Greg Mortenson, a young man who fails in his attempt to climb K-2, the world's second tallest mountain. Very ill after his climb, Mortenson is taken in by residents of Korphe, a small Pakistani village. Moved by their hospitality and stunned by the absence of a school in the area, Mortenson vows to return to Korphe and build a school for the village. A school that, against the grain of custom, will teach girls as well as boys.

Greg Mortenson sold everything he owned and wrote letters asking for donations. Things began to come together when a group of school children in River Falls, Wisconsin heard about his cause and collected over $600 worth of "Pennies for Peace." Mortenson has spent the last 15 years building schools for girls and boys in Pakistan and Afghanistan, sometimes at great risk and danger to his own life. Today, his schools educate more than 26,000 girls and boys in Central Asia.

Mortenson argues that the education of girls in particular is the key to the end of the "war on terror." While educated boys often leave their villages to work, girls stay home, take care of their families, engage their communities. He quotes an African proverb: “If you educate a boy, you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educate a community.”

There's an interesting quote from a September 2007 article about Mortenson in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Consider the word “jihad.” We know about that word in one context — a violent quest. But the word has other meanings — reflecting other pursuits. But before beginning a jihad, you ask permission from your mother, Mortenson said. If she is educated — she’s less likely to give approval for a violent mission.

Those who dismiss education say that many of the 9/11 hijackers were educated — and that’s true, Mortenson said. “But none of their mothers were educated.”

For more information and to get involved:
Central Asia Institute
Pennies for Peace


Amy Schimler-Safford said...

What a wonderful and inspiring post. I will have to get this book.

Josephine Cameron said...

I hope you'll enjoy it!