Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Difference One Man Can Make

About this time last year, I read a book called "Three Cups of Tea." A very short synopsis is that the author, Greg Mortenson, went to Pakistan in 1993 to honor the memory of his deceased sister by climbing the treacherous K2 mountain. He didn't make it to the top, but he did encounter some rural villagers that impacted him greatly. He promised to come back and build them a school to try and give back for the way that they helped him. In the past 17 years, he (now through his foundation) has built 165 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan with the emphasis on educating girls. He has strong beliefs about the importance of literacy, the right to an education, and empowering people.

This morning, Jason and I had the opporunity to hear Mr. Mortenson speak at Tarleton. He gave a wonderful presentation about his experiences in these two countries. He shared statistics such as: in 2001 800,000 children were in school in Afghanistan; in 2010, over 8 million children were in school in Afghanistan! He talked about off-shoot foundations, such as Pennies for Peace and Journey of Hope that also support his cause.

In his book, Mortenson is somewhat critical of the military and politicians for not properly relating to these people. The story goes that many military wives have read the book and passed it on to their husbands. Evidently, the generals and admirals have recently adopted his beliefs about establishing relationships, showing respect, and listening to the people in these war-torn countries. General Patraeus agrees with Mortenson so much that he has made it mandatory for Officers and Special Forces to read Three Cups of Tea when deployed to Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Mr. Mortenson was very humble in his presentation. He has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and I'm convinced that he will win the award one day. He also had a book-signing after the presentation; however, I read it on the Kindle and opted out of him signing that!

1 comment:

Sara Graham said...

I am so jealous!! How cool that you got to see him! FYI, in the library here at Ft. Leavenworth, which is more research library than a city library, there are over 20 copies of 3 Cups of Tea. And Petraeus was once the head of the school here.

One more thing, read "The Poisonwood Bible." Another great (fiction) literary work about relating to the people you want to help.