Monday, September 8, 2008

Three Cups of Tea: What Does Education Have to do with World Peace?

I'll admit it. I wasn't overly excited about reading Three Cups of Tea when I saw that it was a 2009 Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award contender because, although I admire those who commit their lives to humanitarian endeavors, sometimes their stories can be a bit treacly. I enjoy reading blurbs about humanitarian heroes in People magazine, but an entire do-gooder memoir? Luckily, I put my reservations aside and was rewarded with an absolutely stellar account of an unlikely hero and his tireless efforts to build school for impoverished Muslim children in the mountains of the Pakistani Himalayas.
Greg Mortenson had failed to climb K2, the most technically-difficult climb of any mountain in the world. He was descending the slopes when he took a wrong turn, got lost, and ended up spending several weeks in Korphe, a tiny village, where he saw students trying to scratch out their lessons in the dirt. Mortenson vowed to return with enough money to build a school for the children of the village that had hosted him so generously. The rest of the book describes the difficulties Mortenson had finding donors to help Muslims (he points out that everyone wants to help the Buddhist sherpas made famous by Mt. Everest) and explores why that is and why helping Muslims and Muslim countries is necessary in fostering world peace. He eventually found a donor and began to travel down the path that he will follow for the rest of his life.
Three Cups of Tea is important for all Americans to read, in my opinion, and that's not something that I say lightly. It forces us as a country to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what our priorities are and what we can do-- both as a country and as individuals-- to foster world peace.
4 out of 4 Bananas


Mrs. Fritz said...

It's good to have TWO librarians selecting books for your library - so that you get two different points of view. Although I admire the humanitarian effort that Mortensen devoted to the people of the Baltu, the book itself wasn't that well-written, and the story just dragged (for me) in many places. A LOT of description of both climbing, the mountains, and the lifestyle in northern Pakistan -- but also a lot about how much Greg did without in his attempt to raise money for his cause. I guess I'm glad I read it, but afterwards I'm not too hopeful about the world and its changes vs. terrorism, and I'm ready to just dig into a good escapist novel!

Mrs. Duell said...

Mrs. Fritz, I actually felt inspired at the end of the book! I thought that, through Three Cups of Tea, Mortensen has been able to spread his message of education (especially for girls) and peace to a huge audience, some of whom might actually do something to help. For example, my mom went to hear Mortensen speak in Rockford last weekend at a sold out venue. Also, school children from the city had collected money for his Pennies for Peace foundation and local businesses contributed also, raising over $50,000. To me, that is so inspiring. But I do admit that, after reading the book, I dived right into a juicy Patricia Cornwell thriller!