Marika Gillis's Reviews > Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
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Feb 20, 09

bookshelves: nonfiction, memoirs-auto-biographies
Recommended for: Leonard, Danica, Erin, Sarah
Read in February, 2009

"That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I've ever learned in my life," Mortenson says. "We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We're the country of thirty minute power lunches and 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."

After nearly losing his life in a failed attempt to climb Pakistan's K2, Greg Mortenson stumbles into the tiny village of Korphe. He is welcomed and cared for by the villagers and, to thank them for their kindness, promises to return and build a school for their children. Greg returns to the United States and begins the uphill battle of earning the $12,000 it would take to build a simple school for the small village. A year later, Greg returns to Korphe with the supplies and materials needed to fulfill his promise. And this is only the beginning of what will become Mortenson's life's work- building schools for children in Pakistan and, later, Afghanistan.

Normally this kind of book would not be my cup of tea (cheap joke, I know!), but this book was different. For me, it's one of only a few books that will change the way I look at life. Greg's story makes it explicitly clear that one person can change the world, and there certainly is no more powerful message to hear. Without expectations or reciprocation, Greg earned the money, found the materials, and built fifty-five schools (mostly for girls) in an area of the world that fostered a deep distrust of Americans. Mortenson understood something George Bush never has- that only through education and knowledge can understanding and peace emerge. Through his quiet, unassuming dedication he illustrated a deep care for the people in that region.

The trendy cloth bracelets that people once wore with the initials WWJD flashed into my mind while reading this book. But, the question 'What Would Jesus Do?' is one that Greg Mortenson would probably not bother to answer... because he's too busy doing it.

"I'm no military expert," Mortenson said, "And these figures might not be exactly right. But as best as I can tell, we've launched 114 Tomahawk cruise missiles tipped with a Raytheon guidance system, which I think is about $840,000. For that much money, you could build dozens of schools that could provide tens of thousands of students with a balanced, non-extremist education over the course of a generation. Which do you think will make us more secure?"

Please read this book.
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