Favorite Book: Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

After a failed climb of K2 in Pakistan, Greg Mortenson set out on a mission of another kind – one that required an immense amount of perseverance and passion beyond K2. This is the true story of Greg Mortenson’s journey to “promote peace one school at a time”. I thought that I would like this story – it has all of my favorite elements – non-fiction, global travel, athleticism/drive, and giving back; yet I not only liked it, I loved it. I can say that it is my favorite book I’ve ever read. Finally – I have an answer for stupid online dating questionnaires…”What’s your favorite book?”

After his failed attempt on K2, Greg wandered into an impoverished Pakistan village, Korphe. He was lost and disoriented but was moved by the kindness of the people who took care of him. Korphe was a hearty village – it had to be to survive in the barren mountains, high altitude, and harsh winters. After seeing the village kids had no school – but as an alternative sometimes gathered to draw lessons with a stick in the dirt – he vowed that if the Pakistan government couldn’t provide a school, he would.

One of the things that I loved about Greg was that he was a man of his word – something that I try to live my life by and have the utmost respect for. Greg had no idea how to make the school commitment happen, but he was scrappy and determined. His journey was full of learnings and strife as he came to really understand the Pakistani people in this region, their Muslim religion, their language, their customs, how they did business, and their pace. All countries have a pace – I believe America to be the fastest paced country I’ve ever been in. Pakistan’s pace was SSSLLOOWWW.

His journey turned from one school to many schools, to water supply solutions, to women’s vocational centers, to Afghanistan, and eventually a NGO called Central Asia Institute. His initial contributor to the school was a rich old man that felt America was always pulling for the Buddhists (think Richard Gere) – but no one was trying to help the Muslims. Greg’s journey started years before 9/11 – however the books spans that timeframe and it was fascinating how it evolved from simply a book about an NGO building schools, to a testament on how to fight terrorism through the education of kids. Education of kids in impoverished areas is the key to many issues the world faces today and something I believe strongly in.

This book made the reader really think about religion, morals, empowering women, politics, global travel, and culture. I read the book with a highlighter in hand – marking my favorite passages that moved me.

All I can say is – read the book. I’m not sure that it will be your favorite all-time book, but I think you will enjoy it. The reason why it’s my favorite book is very personal to me. As I read through the pages those old, familiar feelings came back to me, the ones that make me want to drop everything and go back and do volunteer work. As I was reading it, I kept thinking about how purely happy I was when I was teaching the kids in India…I had passion. A passion that made me smile so hard it hurt, and cry so hard that you forget how to breathe. This book reminded me of what I need to do, of what makes me happy – and that is making a difference in the world. This book came at a pivotal time for me in my travels, one where I’m confused about going home, looking into a directionless future…it grounded me again. It provided me a glimpse of what my future could be if I have the perseverance and drive to make it happen.

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