Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin. adapted by Sarah Thomson.
Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Group: NY, 2009.

It isn't often that I read a nonfiction book that is as gripping as Three Cups of Tea. Greg Mortenson was on a mission to do one great thing as a thank you to the village that saved his life in the mountains of Baltistan, Pakistan. A lost mountain climber, he stumbled into the remote village of Korphe. He was nurtured and welcomed as a guest until he was strong enough to find his way home. Noticing the children at their lessons, drawing in the dirt and sitting in the cold, he promised the village chief he would be back one day to build a school.

Returning to America with little money, he got a job and proceeded to raise funds by writing letters to celebrities. After receiving only one check, he talked to a fellow mountain climber who published an article about Greg's mission in a newsletter for climbing enthusiasts. One man gave him the money he needed to start. From there, the process was slow going, but he eventually built his school, with many obstacles. His benefactor persuaded the American Himalayan Foundation (the group responsible for the newsletter) to support Greg's work. With his success, a foundation (Central Asia Institute) was started to build more schools, with Greg as the director.

This book is about an ordinary person determined to fulfill a promise. His goal might not seem so extravagant, but difficulties arose regarding the geography of the village (lack of bridge and seasonal roads), lack of personal money, the necessity of people of different cultures communicating with each other, and the growing unrest in Pakistan regarding Americans. Besides the project of building the first school and others, Greg's interaction (friendship) with the villagers and other contacts is detailed. Though the villagers lived mostly secluded from the world outside, Greg learned much from them, including patience and the need to use trusted locals instead of walking into an unknown place without support.

I like the story for not only its adventure and integrity, but also the relationships between Greg and others. I also really like that it is biographical. I strongly believe that our people need to be more focused on doing good, real things and less on making money. I believe that is how America has lost its way, the money factor. I also do believe that building schools and other needed projects are what ends war and hatred not the conquering of "enemies."

On a side note, CAI also founded a group called Pennies for Peace to teach students about Pakistan and Afghanistan and to promote education in remote areas.

related-schools, hospitality, heroes, charity, philanthropist, nonprofit organizations, peace, Pakistan, friendship
RL=6th & up

There is also an adult version of Three Cups of Tea and picture book Listen to the Wind.

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