Mortenson has, since 1993 dedicated his life to promoting community-based education of literacy programs, especially for girls in remote mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson faces each obstacle with a calm assuredness that he will get through each situation. He sits down to tea with the Taliban.
The reason that the book is entitled Three Cups of Tea, is because to conduct any sort of business in Pakistan and Aftghanistan, you must first have tea. With the first cup, you are a stranger, the second a friend. Upon sharing a third cup of tea, you become family, for which they will do anything, even die. (Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan.) One of my favorite chapters is "Rumsfeld's Shoes." Mortenson goes to Washington to meet with Rumsfeld and is amazed that upon entering his office, he isn't even offered a seat. There is no tea. Mortenson notices Rumsfeld's shoes - which appear to be expensive and are polished to a high sheen. Rumsfeld smells of cologne and is freshly shaven and impeccably clean. Mortenson notes that in Washington, no one meets an other's eyes. Everyone walks forward, quickly, in a rush to get to where ever it is that they are going. (I have experienced this in D.C., myself. My daughter likes to explain my behavior to east coast folks when I get chatty, by saying 'she is from Indiana.") Mortenson notes how very far away he is from Pakistan while in Washington,DC.
One of the huge heros, in Greg's life is his wife Tara. She so believes in Greg's mission in life, that she very often must be single parent. She has to trust and believe that Greg is fine, despite the dangers of the areas he travels. When in danger, Greg's first thoughts are of getting back to Tara and the children. Chunda School, 2006 *
Khandays female students clutch new school uniforms. * Central Asia Institute logo *
Greg's efforts are founded in the Central Asia Institute. Mortenson is director. Pennies for Peace logo *
One program, which helps children help other children is Pennies for Peace. Pennies for Peace came about with Greg's initial fund drive for the children of Korphe.
Mortenson writes Three Cups of Tea with author David Oliver Relin. Reading Three Cups of Tea was, for me, a life-changing experience. It causes me to think about how many Americans recklessly squander money. This book was passed on to me by a colleague and upon finishing the book, I bought a copy to pass on to others. You don't have to take my word for what a fine, life-changing story this is. The book was #1 on The New York Times best seller list, TIME magazine's Asia book of the year, Kiriyama Prize for non-fiction award, PNBA non-fiction award, Borders Books Original Voices Selection and Montana Honor Book Award. Many speculate that Mortenson will receive the Pulitzer Prize. With a calendar booked through 2011, I don't know that he will be on hand to accept it. Most likely, he will be far away, building another school.