Three Cups of Tea

Over the holidays I finally got a chance to read this book. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Great book! Wonderful book.

It first got brought to my attention a few years ago when Gardner School was doing a Pennies for Peace drive and had the short synopsis of the story available. I emptied my pockets into the jar that afternoon. I tried to get the book at the library and had no luck. So, I bought it. Did I have time to read it at first? No. sigh… So it sat on my shelf and waved every time I passed the shelf.

I finally picked it up on Yule. (December 21st) The story is about Greg Mortenson, a mountaineer and high altitude climber. He was climbing K2 when a team member needed an emergency evacuation. On his way down, he gets lost and ends up in a small Baltistan village called Korphe. The villagers take him in. “Here ( in Pakistan and Afghanistan) , we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything—even die.” Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan (Moretenson & Relin, 2006, Penguin books)

Mortenson realizes that so much depends on education, and that was one of the biggest things missing from the small villages. He promises to build a school. Working on that epiphany, he returns time and again to build schools for the small isolated villages in Pakistan and later Afghanistan. The book is about his struggle to achieve this.

The book struck cords on many levels. First off, I’m a daughter of a mountaineer. I spent every weekend as a child either hiking, camping or waiting for my dad to come down off of the high peaks. I understand the climbing culture and the drive that some people have to be out in the mountains. It took me years to understand that when Dad talked about God, he meant Great Out Doors.  I share that love of the mountains and high places.

Next, education. I live in a rural area where education is a struggle for so many. I’ve been on the local school board and shared the joys and frustrations that go hand in hand. Especially when it came to raising money.

Most of all, this is a wonderful story about what a person can do if they try. Greg Mortenson is a beautiful human being. Three Cups of Tea is worth the read!

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