‘Three Cups of Tea’ offers valuable message of hope | SummitDaily.com

‘Three Cups of Tea’ offers valuable message of hope

TARA KUSUMOTOspecial to the daily
Special to the Daily

The idea is simple: Use education as a tool to fight terrorism. The feat is heroic: One man overcoming cultural expectations and barriers to achieve this goal.Greg Mortenson is a former climber who, after a failed attempt at summiting K2 in 1993, was taken in by a remote village in Pakistan’s Karakoram region. A self-proclaimed climbing “bum” with no income or home, Mortenson (seemingly on a whim) promised the village leader that he’d come back and build them a school. Fast-forward 13 years. Mortenson not only kept his promise to build the village a school, but he has significantly expanded his reach. With his nonprofit organization, the Central Asia Institute (CAI), he has built more than 55 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. With coauthor David Oliver Relin, Mortenson tells of his courageous journey and his ongoing, successful mission in the nonfiction book, “Three Cups of Tea.”

No matter what readers’ political or religious slant may be, this is a story that can be valued for its message of hope, and appreciated by anyone who believes in the possibility of peace through cultural understanding.Part mountaineering adventure story, part memoir, part armchair travel, “Three Cups of Tea” takes readers on a journey to the remote Himalayan and Hindu Kush mountain areas of Central Asia. But different from the high-drama, Hollywood adventure that gets adrenaline junkies in the gut, Mortenson’s story also captures the reader’s heart and mind. In a time when the media inundates us with politically-biased commentary, sensational “news” and smear campaigns, and the publishing industry fights to release money-making hits from the political spectrum, it’s a challenge to find stories that are positive and fair. “Three Cups of Tea” is just that: a refreshing, inspiring story of hope and achievement. For Mortenson, the path to achieve peace in this area of the world is through education – nonextremist, balanced education that levels the playing field for both boys and girls in a Muslim society.

Admirably, Mortenson does not tarnish or try to “improve” the culture through a western political or religious agenda. Rather, he works with the local communities to provide more educational opportunities within the context of the existing culture.”Three Cups of Tea” is about the possibility of cultures coming together for a common goal of peace and puts a new perspective on how we (the United States and all of us as individuals) can better interact with the rest of the world.The book, and Mortenson’s own courage and dedication to the mission, are catalysts for change, and will motivate, inspire and educate – not just the kids and women benefiting from schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan – but all of us. So now we have a challenge ahead of us. We know that one person can make a substantial and meaningful impact in the world. For Mortenson, it’s building schools against seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to provide the opportunity of fair education in Central Asia.

The question is: What is that meaningful, single effort for the rest of us?”Three Cups of Tea” was released in paperback Feb. 1, and has been chosen as the March Book Club selection for Hamlet’s Bookshoppe.Tara Kusumoto works at Hamlet’s Bookshoppe in Breckenridge. To contact her, e-mail tarakusumoto@yahoo.com or visit http://www.hamletsbooks.com.

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