- Alisha Barnes
Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, tells the story of one man's attempt to promote peace in the Middle East by building schools. Journalist David Oliver Relin chronicled Greg Mortenson’s life in order to encourage further support for his efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book aids in educating the reader on the accomplishments of the Central Asia Institute, the nonprofit which Mortenson co-founded, that works to construct schools in impoverished areas in order to promote scholarship, with a particular emphasis on educating girls.
Mortenson's story begins with a failed attempt to climb K2, the world's second highest mountain, which is located in the Karakoram mountain range that spans areas of Pakistan, India, and China. Mortenson stumbled into the village of Korphe suffering from weakness associated with his K2 climb. There he was met with the kindness of Haji Ali, Korphe's chief, and other members of the village. Mortenson was so impressed with the hospitality of the villagers that he left with a promise to return and bring the materials to build a school for the students of the town--whom he had observed outside drawing the answers to math equations in the sand without a teacher there to instruct them.
Once back in the States, Mortenson found it hard to obtain grants for his Pakistani schools, which would have assisted predominantly Muslim children in gaining up to a fifth grade education. Three Cups of Tea tackles the obstacles Mortenson faced trying to build his schools and also the benefits he gained from sponsoring the havens of education in the Middle East even during the events leading up to and after September 11, 2001. The book goes into depth about the Central Asia Institute as well as Pennies for Peace, a fundraising organization that began with American school children donating pennies to help Mortenson in his mission to construct schools.