My school always chooses a Community Reading Project book. A bunch of people on campus read the book, they host discussions about it and then the author comes to talk/ sign books. This year our book is Three Cups of Tea, about the work of Greg Mortenson, building schools in Pakistan.
After a failed attempt at reaching the summit of a Pakistani mountain, Mortenson made a promise to a small Pakistani village that was without a school. He told them that he would return and construct a school for them. Mortenson raised the money needed for the school at home in the U.S. and eventually got the school built. He has since helped to build 131 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These schools are located in the vast underdeveloped rural areas of these countries, what Mortenson calls "the last best places." He believes that by improving the education of women you improve the life of the whole community and that we should work to eliminate terrorism through education not bombs.
I just finished the book and it was inspiring! Greg Mortenson is my new hero, the work he has done for children, especially girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan is amazing. His passion about fighting terrorism and war with education is truly inspirational.
He is coming to campus in April, but sadly I will be out of town. I knew I would miss his talk before I read the book, but after I was devastated, becuse I really really want to meet him now. Hopefully, a friend will be getting my book signed for me, wish I could meet him and tell him how much I appreciate his work!
Here is the website about the Central Asia Institute, the organization Greg started to help him build schools in Pakistan and other central Asian countries. https://www.ikat.org/ There is info about its history, donations, etc.
The book is full of fabulous quotes- here are some of my favs
"And like many Americans who worshipped at the temple of rugged individualism he had found the idea [of submitting to God] dehumanizing. But for the first time, kneeling among one hundred strangers, watching them wash away not only impurities, but also, obviously, the aches and cares of their daily lives, he glimpsed the pleasure to be found in submissiong to ritualized fellowship of prayer."
"Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel." Ok that one just made me smile.
"I have seen that community and a close relationship with the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication." Helena Norberg-Hodge
"I don't know if I particularly want to be remembered for anything. I have enjoyed great satisfaction from my climb of Everest. But my most worthwhile things have been the building of schools and medical clinics. That has given me more satisfaction than footprints on a mountain." Sir Edmund Hillary
That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I've ever learned in my life. We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We're the country of thiry minute power lunches, two-minute football drills. Our leaders thought their 'shock and awe' campaign could end the war in Iraq before it even started. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them."
" 'I can't read it.' he said. 'I can't read anything. This is the greatest sadness in my life. I'll do anything so the children of my village never have to this feeling. I'll pay any price so they have the education they deserve." Haji Ali
"Jean was known for his scientific achievements. But I think he cared just as much about that little school in Korphe. He felt he was really leaving something behind." Jennifer Wilson
"He's the type of religious leader I admire most. He is about compassion in action, not talk. He doesn't just lock himself up with his books. Syed Abbas believes in rolling up his sleeves and making the world a better place."
"I've learned the world is a very large place and so far, I've only seen a little of it." Shakeela
"If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls."
"I wish Westerners who misunderstand Muslims could have seen Syed Abbas in action that day. They would see that most people who practice the true teachings of Islam, even conservative Mullahs like Syed Abbas, believe in peace and justice, not in terror. Juas as the Torah and Bible teach concern for those in distress, the Koran instructs all Muslims to make caring for widows, orphans and refugees a priority."
"In times of war you often hear leaders-- Christian, Jewish and Muslim--saying 'God is on our side' But that isnt' true. In war, God is on the side of the refugees, widows and orphans."
"I request America to look into our hearts and see that the great majority of us are not terrorits, but good and simple people. Our land is strickedn with poverty because we are without education. But today, another candle of knowledge has been lit. In the name of Allah the Almighty, may it light our way out of the darkness, we find ourselves in." Syed Abbas
"The only wa we can defeat terrorism is if people in this country where terrorists exist learn to respect and love Americans and if we can respect and love these people here. What's the difference between becoming a productive local citizen or a terrorist? I think the key is education."
"This guy Greg quietly, doggedly heading back into a war zone to do battle with the real causes of terror is every bit as heroic as those firemen running up the stairs of the burning towers while everyone else was frantically trying to get out." Charlie Shimanski
"I want to be thoroughly used up when i die."
"I've learned a few things. I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere lik Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death."
"If we truly want a legacy of peace for our children, we need to understand that this is a war that will ultimately be won with books not bombs."
"You have to attack the source of your enemy's strength. In America's case, that's not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance. The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business. Otherwise the fight will go on forever." General Bashir Baz
I am reading Mortenson's second book- Stones into Schools. There is also a children's book about the first school Mortenson built- Listen to the Wind. Check them out!