#FlashbackFriday (8)- Greg Mortenson

23 Aug
Every Friday, I will “flashback” to an older journal entry or post pertaining to books, reading or writing. I will then write a short follow-up to it.

Every Friday, I will “flashback” to an older journal entry or post pertaining to books, reading or writing. I will then write a short follow-up to it.

Published in 2006, Three Cups of Tea is the kind of book most likely everyone’s heard about because they knew someone who read and recommended it to them. It’s the story of Greg Mortenson who had to literally lose his way in order to find his purpose in life. At first, fueled only by the desire to repay the people who saved his life, the building of that one school in the small village of Korphe would be the beginning of something big. It would lead to more schools in remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan- where children, especially girls, can get the education they deserve. And by doing so, Mortenson (and the Central Asia Institute, which he co-founded) is helping “promote peace one school at a time”- as the subtitle goes. David Oliver Relin helps tell Mortenson’s struggles and adventures. This has definitely inspired me to do my part in creating a much safer, more united world.

Because Three Cups of Tea has struck such a chord with everyone who’s read the book, it’s no surprise there is a Young Reader’s Edition and picture book version. The latter (which I also read) is entitled Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea- told through the perspective of Korphe’s school children. Susan L. Roth shares writing credits and did the collages using “found” materials in her studio- inspired herself by the resourcefulness of the people of that village.

The Young Reader’s Edition was adapted by Sarah Thomson with a foreword by Jane Goodall, a new introduction by Mortenson, and even an interview with his twelve-year-old daughter, Amira, who is apparently following in her father’s footsteps. It also includes new maps and pictures, a timeline, glossary, who’s who, and a reading group discussion guide.

The audio book has the original song “Three Cups of Tea” sung by Jeni Fleming and Amira Mortenson. What I like about these versions of the original story is that it teaches kids they can contribute to and participate in bringing peace to the world.

-excerpt, August 30, 2009

Three Cups of Tea is currently one of my 38 favorite books. I’ve got to say the controversy a year or so ago really affected me and it made me not want to read non-fiction (especially memoirs) even more. But, of course, we tend to remember our own versions of events more vividly than how things may have actually happened.

I guess because of the positive effects and influences it had on me outweighed the negative press is why I still haven’t dismissed it.

Here’s another flashback of when I got to see Greg Mortenson speak.

To say that I was excited to see and hear Greg Mortenson speak would be an understatement. He wrote one of my favorite books ever. Three Cups of Tea was just a magnificent and inspiring read that I can’t stop recommending to people. He was making his rounds to promote Stones Into Schools- a first-person narrative continuing his mission to promote peace through education. The lecture took place at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall- an absolutely beautiful building.

It’s always exciting to be around people who share a common interest or passion- in this case, I guess, it would have been the importance of education. I was surrounded mainly by teachers and librarians. To have someone see someone else they knew across the concert hall was a pretty common occurrence. There was an elderly lady, decked in red everything- including a feather boa- and she was so in praise of Stones Into Schools- she had just bought her fifth copy that day, in fact- that I couldn’t wait to get my own copy to read.

It was interesting to hear that the hardcover edition had a different subtitle from the paperback. He never liked the original publisher’s choice of “One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism One School at a Time” and it was eventually changed to “One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time.”

Some recurring themes during his speak were the need of community and relationship building (especially of listening and respecting elders for what they’ve been through and can offer in terms of advice), the ability of children to change the world when given the chance (because it was schoolkids, and not celebrities or powerful politicians, that funded his earlier missions through the Pennies for Peace program), and the importance of education as an important factor in battling ignorance, hate and many other problems that stem from them.

Overall, Greg Mortenson gave an inspiring and well-received talk. And, once again, my desire to do good in the world, my call to service, was awakened.

-excerpt, December 19, 2009


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