Friday, December 28, 2007

USA TODAY (12-28-07)

Following is an excerpt from USA Today article on Greg Mortenson and "Three Cups of Tea". For detailed article please visit USA Today's weblink below:


Mountaineer builds schools in 'Three Cups of Tea'

December 26, 2007

By Bob Minzesheimer

A surprise best seller this season is a non-fiction book, set in Pakistan and Afghanistan , that was published 21 months ago to limited notice.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin has climbed the lists, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations and a tireless author with an inspiring story.

Tea describes how Mortenson, an American mountaineer, found a new cause: building schools, mostly elementary and especially for girls, in 1993 during a failed attempt to climb the K2 peak on Pakistan 's border.

Friday, November 23, 2007

NBC Today Show (11-20-07)

Excerpt: ‘Three Cups of Tea’
Nov. 20: TODAY’s Ann Curry reports on Greg Mortenson, who has dedicated his life to giving girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan a better future by building them schools.

For the complete story please visit:

NewJersey Fundraiser a Huge Success (11-10-07)

11-10-2007, New Jersey, -A fundraiser for CAI and was tremendously successful as it raised $264,000 to benefit the charity. This event was sponsored and organized by the American-Pakistani community and spear-headed by a local couple, Sumeera and Zahid Baig. The Robbinsville High school entrance hall where students mill, socialize, exchange notes and notice each other fashion oddities during the day was transformed in a splendid banquet Hall at night. Mortenson first had a book signing from which it was hard to tear away the 470 guests that were able to get a one-on-one time with the legendary author/humanitarian whose book has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for over 40 weeks.

"If you promote peace, that's based on hope," Mortenson said, "The real enemy is ignorance because it's based on hatred." The book's title, Three Cups of Tea, refers to the measured progression of becoming a trusted partner with people in developing areas. With the first cup of tea, you're a stranger. With the second, you're an honored guest. With the third, you're family." Mortenson then spoke of his journey from the peaks of K-2 to the pinnacle of humanitarianism in front of the hundreds of spectators where one could have heard a pin drop. In simple lyrical sentences punctuated by a slideshow of his voyages, the unassuming American hero who has been called a real Indiana Jones retold his story. Mortenson explained, "There are 145 million children without education because of slavery, gender discrimination, religious intolerance and corrupt governments. It only costs $1 per month, per child to change that, roughly $6 to $8 billion per year."

In a region marked by tribulation, Mortenson's schools and projects have been triumphant by extending self-empowerment to communities, which leads to enduring life development. Before a project starts, he explained, the community matches Central Asia Institute project funds with equal amounts of local resources and labor. Such ownership ensures the project's viability and long term success. As he said, "When the Taliban was in power, only 800,000 kids were in school. Today more than 5 million children go to school -- and 1.8 million are girls. That's where we should be putting our money."

As Mortenson finished speaking, the captivated audience gave him a standing ovation. A school building now costs $50,000 and as the fundraiser ensued the checks cascaded in and a ticker on the screen tallied $264,000: the amount raised. All the proceeds will benefit Mortenson's Central Asia Institute and help sustain schools and build new ones.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

East Coast vs West Coast (11-03-07)

West Coast:
Three Cups of Tea supporters queue for hours in line for limited tickets for Cambridge Reads series on Nov 7 and 8th.November 8th talk at Sanders Auditorium, Harvard sold out in less than two hours (1,100 tickets) on Oct. 24th.This line, on Saturday, 11/3 at Cambridge library, is for the added 11/7 event at First Parish Church, Cambridge, and sold out also.
Photo: (c) 2007 Carole Feeney -Withrow, Cambridge Public Library

East Coast:
In response to sell out crowds in the West Coast, east coast 3CT and CAI supporters respond with equal enthusiasm Tickets (450) for New Jersey 11/10 fundraising dinner event sold out by 11/03.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Seattle Post Intelligencer interview with President Clinton (11-01-07)

Seattle Post Intelligencer interview with President Clinton
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Extracted from full interview on above website:

QUESTION (by Bob Marshall - P-I book editor):
(The book) "Giving" provides many examples of successful philanthropic efforts. Two from the Northwest merit special praise from you. ... I'm speaking of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Greg Mortenson's Central Asia Institute (that builds schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan). Talk about what you have learned from those two. What I admire about the Gates Foundation, is that they've not only put a massive amount of money into play, but they are directing almost all the money, virtually 100 percent of it, trying to remedy the world's inequalities at the moment, not only around the world, mostly in health care, and in America, mostly in education.... With Mortenson, I admire the fact that he had a big idea that he realized it was big because it could be replicated. He's the ultimate social entrepreneur ... a guy with a good idea, prepared to start small and stay with it as long as it takes to have a big impact and commit a lifetime to it. ... I admire he was able to encourage and tap people of exceedingly modest means to help him. ... I also admire he was working and was effective in an area where Americans are not popular, ... he was able to break through all that because he was able to relate to people as human beings ...
Please note: (c) 2007 Seattle P-I. All Rights Reserved

Three Cups of Tea selected for Rochester Reads (11-01-07)

Rochester Post-Bulletin (Rochester MN)
Three Cups of Tea selected for Rochester Reads
Thursday, November 1, 2007
By Christina Killion-Valdez

More than any other year of Rochester Reads, this has been the year that people want to know which book is in the lead.

Since the community began voting in June on which book Rochester will read, Katherine Stecher, chairwoman of Rochester Reads, has been careful not to give it away.

"People are coming up to me and asking who's winning?" she said.

Yet even before Mayor Ardell Brede announced the winner this morning in the city hall rotunda, one book had a clear lead, she said.

"Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations -- One School at a Time," a New York Times bestseller, has been a popular choice at the library all year. Book clubs have the book reserved through June, and the waiting list for single copies has been up to 30 people deep, Stecher said.

"I think people will be really pleased that this book won," Stecher said.

The book tells the harrowing journey of Greg Mortenson, a Montana resident, who helped build 58 schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The other books considered were: "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science" by Atul Gawande, "Sweet Land: New and Selected Stories" by Will Weaver and "Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague" by Geraldine Brooks.

The books were selected for a variety of reasons, including good writing, a good story and being ripe for discussion, she said.

"Three Cups of Tea" however got twice as many votes as the other books and has sparked discussions across the country, Stecher said.

The book "does not make people into terriorists," she said. "It's trying to explain their culture in a sensitive way."

Discussions based on the book and cultural programs will be a big part of Rochester Reads events in February. Mortenson will speak to classes and at a public forum Feb. 11.

The book selected for junior readers looks at the same region of the world. "The Breadwinner" is about a girl living in Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban. Author Deborah Ellis is expected to visit Rochester as part of Rochester Reads.

(c) 2007 Rochester Post-Bulletin. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Daily Aztec (10-31-07)

Daily Aztec
San Diego State University, CA
Pennies add up
By Shanee Warden - Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In 1833, a penny could buy a newspaper. In 1950, a penny could buy a piece of candy. In 2007, a penny can help build a new school.

San Diego State 's Mortar Board raised $6,000 - the equivalent of 600,000 pennies - to help pay for half the cost of a school in either Pakistan or Afghanistan .

Mortar Board's Pennies for Peace project made its goal in June of this year. The campaign collected about 300,000 pennies and other forms of cash. Jane Smith, assistant vice president of academic services, said many people donated dollar bills, dimes and nickels.

With so many coins and dollar bills, sorting the donations was a hefty task, but the SDSU Bookstore and Aztec Shops helped out.

"We had to put all the pennies on a dolly to take them from my office," Smith said.

Smith said they received a letter saying that donations would help to build a school in either Pakistan or Afghanistan - which country it will be is currently unknown.

"One penny can buy a pencil in Pakistan or Afghanistan ," Smith said. "Every penny makes a difference."

Samantha Spilka, former president of Mortar Board, made the Pennies for Peace project a reality at SDSU in February. Penny collecting containers were set up in a variety of places, including fraternity houses, student service offices and the library.

Spilka, who graduated from SDSU and is attending Columbia University , got the idea of the penny project from the book "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.

The program is a part of the Central Asia Institute, an organization founded by Mortenson, which encourages education in Pakistan and Afghanistan .

Henry Janssen, professor emeritus and the adviser to honors council, said SDSU chose "Three Cups of Tea" as its book for next year. Mortenson will be on campus to talk about the book.

Janssen said the next pennies project will be with the San Diego Public Library and hopefully include San Diego city schools.

"The San Diego schools could raise $12,000 to fund one whole school," Janssen said.

The project is supposed to start collecting pennies in January 2008.

(c) 2007 Daily Aztec. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Contra Costa Times (10-28-07)

Contra Costa Times
Students at Livermore school save their pennies to build a school in Pakistan
By Mark Tarte
Sunday, October 28, 2007

CHILDREN LEARN IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. A fifth-grade class at Emma C. Smith School is learning about the world around them in a positive way and helping other children in Pakistan at the same time.

It started when a student's mother brought a book to her child's principal, Denise Nathanson, called "Three Cups of Tea." It is about a young man's near-fatal climbing accident on the mountain known as K2 and his subsequent recovery at the hands of poor Pakistani villagers.

Out of this near tragedy and recovery for the climber, Greg Mortenson, grew the program Pennies for Peace. A Berkeley nurse, Mortenson made a vow to the villagers who saved his life that he would come back and build a school for them.

The village was so poor that it couldn't even afford the dollar a day it takes to hire a teacher. The children would climb to the next village at times to go to school and still study together even if the teacher didn't arrive. Their writing was done with sticks in the dirt since they were so poor they couldn't afford pencils and paper in a country where a penny buys a pencil.

Mortenson did scrape together the money to build a school and fulfilled his promise. He then wrote "Three Cups of Tea" with David Oliver Relin about his experience. To date, he has helped to build 59 schools in Pakistan and is now expanding into Afghanistan .

His work is especially important for girls in a culture where they were not normally allowed to receive an education and the schools are slowly countering the Taliban-supported schools where children were taught only to hate.
The story has enthralled those who read it, and Nathanson asked if anyone at the Smith school wanted to get involved. Two teachers who job-share took it on enthusiastically. Erin Summers' and Megan Fletcher's fifth-grade class have jumped in with both feet and are trying to raise the $12,000 it takes to build a school in Pakistan .

The class has raised almost $2,200 in the past month or so toward their eventual goal, and they are working hard to raise the rest. This is a daunting task for any fundraiser, let alone a group of young students.

Each week these fifth- graders go into the other classrooms, update the younger students about the project and leave behind containers to collect pennies. At the end of the week, those cans are collected and added to the slowly growing total.

The students have also written letters to many politicians about what they are doing and will be making a presentation to the Livermore school board Nov. 7.

I learned about this wonderful project through Charlotte Grabill, the volunteer publicity chairwoman at the school. The more I looked into what Charlotte told me, the more I was pleasantly surprised by the dedication and drive these youngsters demonstrate. Everyone should be as passionate about something as these students are.

You can help if you'd like. Donations are being accepted through the school; you just need to earmark a check with "Pennies for Peace" when you send it.

You can mail a donation to the Emma C. Smith School , 391 Ontario Drive , Livermore , CA 94550 .

To find out more about the international project or the book itself, go to There, you will find different links to this project and other projects supported by this group throughout central Asia . My check is on its way ... how about yours?

Until next week, be alert, be safe and God bless America .

Reach Mark Tarte c/o the Times, P.O. Box 607 , Pleasanton , CA 94566 or by e-mail:
(c) 2007 Contra Costa Times

Friday, October 12, 2007

Making a Difference: Bringing light to danger zones (10-12-07)

NBC Nightly News covered Cetral Asia Institute and Greg Mortenson in their "Making a Difference" segment. Click the following link to view the story and watch the video that was aired:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Journey Of Hope (10-10-07)

This is the story of one man's mission and what it means to those who live in a region plagued by war, poverty and illiteracy. The reports, in photographs captured by Deirdre Eitel and stories written by Karin Ronnow while in Pakistan and Afghanistan, detail why Greg Mortenson started the Central Asia Institute, and how his efforts have become a source of hope.
Devastation & Hope

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mortenson: Regular guy gets big results (10-07-07)

Photo: Deirdre Eitel - Greg Mortenson talks with his friend and supporter Mehdi Ali in the lobby of the Indus Hotel in Skardu, Pakistan, in July. Mortenson has been able to build girls schools in conservative, rural areas of the Pakistan by gaining trust and nurturing relationships with the villagers.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Mortenson: Regular guy gets big results

By KARIN RONNOW Chronicle Staff Writer

October 7, 2007, Sunday

Note: This is the last of a five part Sunday weekly feature by Bozeman Chornicle editor Karin Ronnow and photographer Deirdre Eitel who spent several weeks following Greg Mortenson and the work of Central Asia Institute in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the summer of 2007.

All five features are available on subscription to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle or from the office of Central Asia Institute after November 10th, 2007. Permission to reprint or use these articles in amy format or place must be obtained from the Chronicle first.

When Greg Mortenson was 3 months old, his parents packed him up in Minnesota and took him halfway around the world, to the East African country of Tanzania, where they would spend the next 14 years as Lutheran missionaries in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.

“When he was 2 or 3 years old, one day I couldn't find him,” said his mother, Jerene Mortenson. “And I looked outside and there he sat in the pathway with an old beggar and the cookie jar.

“Greg was handing the old beggar cookies and the two of them were having this conversation. He didn't just give him something, they were talking. And that just sums up how Greg has been all his life,” she said.

Now, at 49, Greg Mortenson heads the Bozeman-based Central Asia Institute, a nonprofit organization he founded. Instead of cookies, he's delivering education to children, especially girls, in some of the most isolated villages of northern
Pakistan and Afghanistan.

His success and a bestselling book about his life, “Three Cups of Tea,” has made him a bit of a celebrity - both at home and in the areas where he works - and that takes a toll on him and on his family. But it hasn't changed who he is at heart. He's one of those rare birds, driven by a sincere compassion for disenfranchised people about whom few others know or care.

“Even as a child I was deeply affected and disturbed by seeing really impoverished people starving or dying,” Mortenson said. “If I had extra food, I always wanted to share it. And now it's hard to keep my balance because I see so much poverty and hurting and suffering. It really takes a concerted effort, stamina and sometimes courage to remove yourself a little bit.

“But I always think it's important that you touch and smell and feel poverty, extreme poverty. You have to do that to understand it. You can't do it from a think tank in
Washington, D.C.

And he really means that, said retired Lt. Col. Ilyas Ahmad Mirza of
Pakistan, a longtime friend of Mortenson's.

“He loves those people, he listens to them, he lives with them,” Mirza said. “Their houses are dirty and smelly, but it doesn't matter. Greg goes and stays with them for days. He's a different breed.”


One thing Mortenson is not is vain. He's about as humble as they come. All of the attention he's getting, the success of “Three Cups of Tea,” the speaking engagements, newspaper and magazine articles, TV interviews, are seen by him solely as opportunities to build more schools.

He is not a man on whom the mantel of celebrity and greatness rest weightlessly. Rather, Mortenson is far more at ease with his self perception as "a regular guy."

He comes from truly humble beginnings. His family never had much money. After
Tanzania, he went to high school in Minnesota, then volunteered for the U.S. Army and served as a medic in Germany for two years. “I joined in 1975, after Vietnam, when it was not cool.”

When he got back, he attended
Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., where he played football on an NAIA II national championship team. He later transferred to the University of South Dakota, and earned degrees in chemistry and nursing.

He was a trauma nurse and a mountain climber before he started the Central Asia Institute. In 1995, he married Tara Bishop, a psychologist, and they now have two children, Amira, 11, and Khyber, 7.

Mortenson has some quirks, just like everyone else. He is constantly running late. He sometimes forgets appointments.

“I'm still not very socially adept at the wining and dining” part of fundraising, he said. “Often I show up late and I don't even have socks on.”

Perhaps it goes back to growing up in
Africa; perhaps it is something more organic, something temperamental. Either way, he's not wired like most Americans.

It is one of his “maddening aspects,” Bishop agreed.

In his own defense, Mortenson said, “To me, the world is an oyster. I am very curious about a lot of things, so I take time to do everything, and now I am perpetually late. I'm just so busy,” he said.

He is that. He is on the road at least six months a year, overseas and crisscrossing the
United States. After his book, "Three Cups of Tea," was published in 2006, life became increasingly hectic. The phone rings off the hook with people wanting him to come and speak. He gets hundreds of e-mails each day. People stop him on the street, in the coffee shop or at the airport.

“Our lives have really changed since the book was published, as far as the level of demand for his time,” Bishop said. “It was already building its own momentum, but until then, if they didn't go to a talk, people didn't know about him. Then all of the sudden it just geometrically took off.”

Mortenson's perpetual lateness is less of an issue overseas.

“In Baltistan, in the language, there is no sense of time,” Mortenson said. “You can say, ‘I go to Korphe,' which could mean you will be there tomorrow, or you were there yesterday, or you were there 10 years ago. Time is irrelevant. They don't have watches over there. I enjoy working like that, things work well and we get things done.”


Nevertheless, when he gets to
Pakistan, he still can't enter a room without great fanfare. A steady stream of people come to see him as soon as he arrives at the Indus Motel in Skardu.

“It's like he's a rock star or something,” Doug Chabot, a mountain climber and friend of Mortenson's from
Bozeman, said of the scene at the Indus. “People will do anything for him. They just love being around him. It's like, ‘I'll just be standing over here in the corner trying to anticipate your needs.' ”

In July, some of the teachers at remote institute schools had traveled long distances to visit Mortenson during his week in Skardu. Although he has staff in country to make decisions and keep the ball rolling, they often defer to him. Besides, Mortenson is the one who people want to see and talk to.

“He has this incredibly busy schedule when he goes over there, because not only is he checking on schools, but he has all these relationships with people,” Chabot said. “He doesn't sleep much when he's over there. When he's in work mode, it's pretty impressive.”


When he isn't working, Mortenson is often hunkered down in his basement office at home. The small space has, over the years, become his sanctuary.

The 8-by-10-foot room is cluttered with photos, satellite phones, old Texas Instrument calculators, camera parts and books, lots of books, on all four walls up to the ceiling. They are organized into sections on terrorism, poverty, nonprofits, fundraising,
Pakistan, Afghanistan and history.

“I don't drink much or smoke,” he said. “The one vice I have is I am a voracious reader and I buy a lot of books.”

Over the years he has developed a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the history, culture and religion of
Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also has learned the languages spoken in the areas where he works - Balti, Urdu and Farsi.

As a kid, his mom said, “Greg's strongest areas were language, math and science.”

A few minutes later, she went back to that thought. “He does have a particular facility with languages. When he was 8 or 9 years old, we were in
Rome and the maid came into the hotel room and said something. My husband and I couldn't understand her.

“But Greg said, ‘She's asking are we leaving today and should she change the sheets or just make the beds.' It amazed me. That was what she was asking us.”

Mortenson attended an international school his parents started in
Tanzania, and that might have contributed to his ear for language.

But his appetite for knowledge is just a part of who he is.

“We had a set of children's encyclopedias and he started with A and read through the whole set,” Jerene Mortenson said. “We didn't have a television. Greg liked facts. I remember he got a ‘Guinness Book of World Records' that really intrigued him.”

These days, he prefers nonfiction to fiction. And he prefers reading to television, music or even parties.

“He doesn't watch movies,” Bishop said. “He doesn't have a pulse at all on popular media.”

He also doesn't, at this point, have a lot of friends he socializes with at home, Bishop said.

“He doesn't have time for it. His friends are his staff. They get him, his quirkiness,” she said. “He's a little cynical about western, American culture, the power stuff that's such a big part of how we interact here, the teasing, the one-up-manship and the humor around belittling. It baffles him.”


Instead, he focuses on relationships he needs overseas to accomplish his goals of literacy and peace - a lesson he said he learned from his dad, Dempsey.

“My dad worked closely with the Tanzanians, especially his handyman, John Moshe,” Mortenson said. “The expats often scoffed at him, saying he should have the upper hand and be the boss. But he believed everybody was part of the team.”

Mortenson has integrated that philosophy into his own work in
Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“If anything happens to me, everything will be taken care of over there,” he said. “We have amazing staff and we have amazing community support.”

That staff, his central team, is largely a result of serendipity, composed of people that Mortenson tripped over in his work and later hired. But the team is devoted to Mortenson. And the feeling is mutual.

“I consider my staff to be family,” Mortenson said. “They are prepared to give up everything they have to help
CAI. They are all family men who have kids and wives. But they are willing to be gone from their families even more than me, for months at a time.

“They are the ones who go to the village with the hardened mullah, trying to convince them to send girls to school, who really push the envelope in working with different ethnic groups, Sunni and Shia, and different politicians, bringing the hardest opponents together with the proponents and work until they come up with some solution.”

Most of the staff are not highly educated, either, he said, “yet they are willing to work very had to learn difficult skills.”

They have flaws, he said. Sometimes they push too hard when it might be better to give people time.

“I love them dearly as my family, but sometimes I have to remind them that to do business, sometimes it takes" time, he said.


While a lot of the village work might be handled by the in-country staff, the fundraising and public speaking is exclusively Mortenson's job. And it takes a toll.

“The success of all this has forced me to become a much more public person,” he said. “I'm rather shy and reserved by nature, and at first it was really hard on me. But the more I do this, the more comfortable it is. And I really want to do this because I want to promote education and promote peace. But I have to raise money.

“The hard part is that I've been married for 12 years and more than 65 months of that time, I haven't been with my family.”

“It's a tricky thing for Greg,” Bishop said. “I think he would like to do it all. I don't think can't is in his vocabulary. He really is committed to those little kids over there. And he has a huge heart.

“But I miss him, that's the biggest thing. I'd like more time with him. That's the part that makes me sad.”

The other thing Bishop would like her husband to do is take a little better care of himself; he's paying a price for the pace he keeps.

“I get frustrated because his life is so overwhelming,” she said. “I'm happy for his success and what it means for the world and for him. But I wish he could have some more time to catch up with himself, to be able to slow down a little bit and fully think. He's truly an introvert and he's not getting what all introverts need, which is time unplugged."

Karin Ronnow is at

© 2007 Bozeman Daily Chronicle. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 5, 2007

S.D. connections helped author of book (10-05-07)

Sioux Falls Argus Leader

S.D. connections helped author of book

By David Kranz

October 5, 2007, Friday

If you have been in a bookstore in recent months, you probably have seen "Three Cups of Tea" prominently displayed on the shelf.

I was intrigued by the cover but never picked it up. It wasn't until Jack Rentschler told me about it that my interest was piqued, particularly by the South Dakota connection.

Greg Mortenson's story, co-authored with David Oliver Relin, is a powerful account of the challenges he's faced in Pakistan and Afghanistan. From those major hurdles came a commitment from him to help make a difference in the area of education. Mortenson, a 1983 graduate of the Univ. of South Dakota with a bachelor's of liberal studies and an degree in nursing, tells the compelling story that began in 1993, rising out of his failed pursuit to reach the peak of K2 in Pakistan, the world's second highest mountain.

After descending the mountain, he was separated from those he traveled with, coming upon a poverty-stricken Pakistani village - a place that left a permanent impression in his mind, a place where children had little or no opportunity to receive an education.

Failure to conquer the mountain led Mortenson to reprioritize his life, focusing on becoming a humanitarian. His goal would be improving and expanding educational opportunities in these countries.
He only would be content making sure these children's educational needs were met, particularly addressing the educational opportunities for girls. Today, 58 schools have grown out of Mortenson's mission in Pakistan and Afghanistan, educating more than 20,000 children. He is founder and executive director of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute, an organization dedicated to promoting education to underprivileged children.

Achieving the goal would create new concerns, resulting in his campaign against Islamic fundamentalists who would sometimes find their members in the religious schools.

Mortenson's ultimate objective to educate in the face of the turmoil of war is defined in a chapter aptly titled, "The Enemy Is Ignorance."

"If we try to resolve terrorism with military might and nothing else, then we will be no safer than we were before 9-11. If we truly want a legacy of peace for our children, we need to understand that this is a war that will ultimately be won with books, not with bombs," Mortenson writes.

His acknowledgements in the book include help he received along the way and covers four pages, including these mentions: "From South Dakota, and my USD alma mater, I thank four noteworthy individuals who touched my life: Lars Overskei, Tom Brokaw, Dr. Dan Birkeland, and Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today and the D.C.-based Freedom Forum, from which I received the 2004 Free Spirit Award."

Incidentally, Brokaw was one of 580 celebrities he wrote to, asking for money to build a school in that village. Of those 580 letters, Brokaw was the only one who responded with money.

Mortenson returned in 2006 to deliver the USD commencement address.

© 2007 Souix Falls Argus Leader. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

TCT holding ground (10-02-07)

Three Cups of Tea is # 5 this week on NY Times bestseller list (paperback nonfiction) for week # 34

Top 5 at a Glance

1. EAT, PRAY, LOVE, by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. INTO THE WILD, by Jon Krakauer
3. 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN, by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey
4. THE GLASS CASTLE, by Jeannette Walls
5. THREE CUPS OF TEA, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Complete Paperback Nonfiction List »

Greg Mortenson

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Mortenson has antidote to ways of war
A phenomenon hit Seattle last week. Everywhere Greg Mortenson went, people lined up to listen to his simple message about how to change the world.
A week ago at Town Hall the lines started two hours before the event. It was the same at Beacon Hill, Green Lake and Bainbridge Island. Every seat filled while more people squeezed into every available space, sitting on the floor or hearing the talk from the hallway. Hundreds of people were turned away.
What is this message that we're so ready to hear? It's the antidote to the ways of war.
Think about the way we fight terrorism. We are at war. We fear what they will do. Fear is the key word.
But there's an alternative. "If you promote peace, that's based on hope," Mortenson said at his Bainbridge talk. "The real enemy is ignorance because it's based on hatred."
Mortenson's book, "Three Cups of Tea," tells the story about how building schools -- mostly girls' schools -- is the surest way to change the world.
He said when he first wrote the book the publishers sent him a mock-up cover with the subtitle: "One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations...One School at a Time." This wasn't the message he wanted to send. He suggested: "One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ...One School at a Time."
But the publishers were firm. This was a first book -- and the odds against it were great because most nonfiction titles don't make money. So the hard cover came out and it didn't sell well.
So when the paperback was published the peace subtitle surfaced. Something worked because "Three Cups of Tea" has been on The New York Times' bestseller list for 34 weeks. This occurred because book clubs, women's groups, schools and ordinary Americans would read a copy and then buy another for someone else.
I know how this for a fact. I've known Greg for a few years and was on a committee that gave him an award for his work. A few months ago, he sent me a dozen copies of the paperback. I gave them away -- and many of the people I gave copies to, told me they read it, went out and bought more copies to pass along. It was a network of hope.
It's the same with Pennies for Peace. That started with Mortenson's first promise to build a school in a remote Pakistan village. He wrote letters to celebrities -- even getting a check for $100 from Tom Brokaw. But it wasn't enough to do anything. Then he talked to a class. A fourth-grader in Wisconsin suggested a donation from his piggy bank. Six weeks later those school kids had raised 62,342 pennies.
"It wasn't adults. It was children, reaching out to children half-way around the world," he said. "What can a penny buy? You can buy a pencil with a penny. And that gives a child hope. If you have hope, you can do anything." Soon after he raised enough for the first school, some $12,000.
Mortenson's premise starts with an African proverb: "If you educate a boy, you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educate a community."
When a boy goes to school, it's assumed he will leave his village and work. But a girl stays. She grows into a woman, bears healthier children, and encourages them to be educated.
Consider the word "jihad." We know about that word in one context -- a violent quest. But the word has other meanings -- reflecting other pursuits. But before beginning a jihad, you ask permission from your mother, Mortenson said. If she is educated -- she's less likely to give approval for a violent mission.
Those who dismiss education say that many of the 9/11 hijackers were educated -- and that's true, Mortenson said. "But none of their mothers were educated."
There is an urgent need to do more, to build more schools. "There are 145 million children without education -- and the numbers are going up -- because of slavery, gender discrimination, religious intolerance and corrupt governments. It only costs $1 per month, per child to change that, roughly $6 to $8 billion per year.
Last week the Bush administration asked Congress for another $190 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Which plan is more cost effective?
On the other hand, the schooling of Afghanistan is "the most exciting news" you've never read, says Mortenson. When the Taliban was in power, only 800,000 kids were in school. Today more than 5 million children go to school -- and 1.8 million are girls. That's where we should be putting our money.
The people who stood in lines to hear Mortenson already know this. We are a nation with a generous people. We could make this world better by doubling our efforts to build schools. We even know where to find the money: Spend a few billions less on war.
Mark Trahant is editor of the editorial page. E-mail: For more information:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Young Audiences Drink In ‘Three Cups Of Tea' Author (09-26-07)

KITSAP SUN (Washington)

Young Audiences Drink In ‘Three Cups Of Tea' Author

By Tristan Baurick
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bainbridge Island - It's been said that Greg Mortenson has won more "hearts and minds" in a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan than the mightiest military force on earth.

What's this affable ex-mountain climber's secret weapon?

"Literate, educated girls," Mortenson told a crowd of students at Bainbridge High School on Wednesday. "You can drop bombs but unless you educate girls, a society won't change."

Mortenson is the subject of the bestselling book "Three Cups of Tea." Written in partnership with journalist David Oliver Relin, the book recounts how Mortenson -- then a dedicated mountaineer -- veered from the summit of K2 and blazed a new path toward improved education in some of the most isolated regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mortenson, through his Central Asia Institute, has built more than 60 schools that support 18,000 students per year.

A better-educated population acts as a bulwark against violent extremist groups that regularly recruit from the region's poor and illiterate, Mortenson said. And better-educated girls make for future mothers with important lessons to impart to their sons.

"There's an old saying: 'When you educate a boy, you educate an individual,'" he said. "'But when you educate a girl, you educate a community.'"

The notion of putting girls in classrooms wasn't an easy sell in conservative Islamic regions, but Mortenson's vision has earned many believers abroad and at home.

Bainbridge senior Alex Oechsli is one of Mortenson's most recent converts.

"International relations start at the basic level with education," Oechsli said after Mortenson's speech. "Going town by town, person by person is how you make a real difference. That's how (Mortenson) has gone about it. He's shown the right way to do it."

Oechsli and many other students library branch manager Cindy Harrison. "I think that's because people are hungry for a positive, uplifting story from that part of the world, which seems entangled in an impossible situation."

At an afternoon appearance at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island, over 200 people from 45 different book clubs attended a talk, where the bookstore said that he has sold more copies of "Three Cups Of Tea" than Harry Potter books.

With thousands of children enrolled in schools where none previously existed, "Three Cups of Tea" has no shortage of inspiring true tales.

raised their hands when asked whether they'd read "Three Cups of Tea." The book, which has sold over a half-million copies, was assigned reading in Bainbridge High social studies classes and was on the summer reading list for Poulsbo's West Sound Academy, where Mortenson also spoke Wednesday.

The Bainbridge Island Public Library co-sponsored an evening event with Mortenson that was expected to draw thousands to the Bainbridge High gym.

"This book has resonated in a special way with people," said Bainbridge

One of Mortenson's favorites is the story of a girl who grew up in a remote mountain village and went on to become her region's first health-care worker. After graduating from one of Mortenson's schools and receiving a college education, the girl helped dramatically reduce the annual rate of women dying during childbirth.

"It wasn't easy for her," said Mortenson. "Young boys threw stones at her when she tried to go to school. Teachers refused to teach her. She had to sit outside and listen to lessons outside. But she graduated. She learned how to deliver babies and about immunizations, and not one woman has died giving birth in her area."

If the goal of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and other parts of the Islamic world is peace, Mortenson argues that spending money on books produces a much higher return than bombs.

"We spent $95 billion last year (for the war) in Iraq," he said. "That's $10 million per hour. But it takes just a few dollars per month to send a child to school. If we did that, think of the incredible change that would have on the world."

© 2007 Kitsap Sun. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NBC Nightly News interviews Greg Mortenson on Sept 28th (Event Cancelled)

Greg Mortenson will be interviewed by Brian Williams on Sept 28th, please tune in and spread the word.

Event Cancelled - Future Date TBD...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Times Standard (Eureka, CA) - One penny at a time (09-20-07)

The Times Standard (Eureka, CA)
One penny at a time
Sharon Letts
September 20, 2007

”When I look into the eyes of children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I see my own children. I want my own kids and their counterparts to live in peace, but that will not happen unless we give them alternatives to the cycle of terrorism and war.”

-- Greg Mortenson, founder and executive director of Central Asia Institute
Rabia Sher of Arcata is planning on collecting pennies -- a lot of them.

For she knows the true value of the copper currency that many Americans consider a nuisance.

”A penny isn't valued in the states any longer,” said Sher, founder of the Roshni Center for Women in northern Pakistan, during a recent presentation at Grant Elementary School in Eureka. “But, a penny will buy a pencil in Pakistan, and one pencil will allow a child to go to school.”

Pennies for Peace is an international campaign developed by the Central Asia Institute. The campaign is focused on raising the awareness of children all over the globe about the need to help others. The program also builds schools in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Sher initially saw a need for improving economic growth through educational training while visiting Pakistan in 2000.

Since that trip, she has been working to enlighten people to the plight of the Pakistanis, first opening the Roshni Center for Women -- a place that helps young women learn skills, such as sewing. Sher's latest crusade is the Pennies for Peace campaign, as well as a letter-writing project involving schoolchildren.

”I read Greg Mortenson's book, 'Three Cups of Tea,' and I thought, 'He's telling my story,'” Sher explained of the man who founded the Central Asia Institute. “After I finished reading it, I called the Pennies for Peace office in Montana and told Director Christiana Leitinger that I wanted to bring that program to Humboldt.”

The Central Asia Institute was established in 1996 after Mortenson made a trip up K2 -- the second highest mountain in the world --and after a stay in the northern mountain village of Karakoram in Pakistan, where he saw a need and was compelled to help the children there, with a bigger picture of global peace.

According to its Web site (, the organization's mission is to “promote and support community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in mountain regions of Central Asia.”

”The theory is that if you educate a boy, you educate an individual,” Sher said, “but, if you educate a girl, you educate the community. Some men in Pakistan feel that it's evil to educate women, but things can and are changing slowly.”

Sher said that part of that change is due to the education of children, but to get that education, she said, the simplest needs must be met -- like owning a pencil.

The penny, or 1 percent of a dollar, represents the 1 percent of a gross domestic product goal set by the United Nations in the 1970s ( The goal was for wealthy countries to give foreign aid to impoverished nations on a yearly basis.

Sher is now bringing Pennies for Peace to Humboldt County -- one school at time. The program involves children dropping pennies into a jar in the classroom. Sher has also created a pen-pal program, which will encourage local children to write letters to children in northern Pakistan.

The pen pals and the Pennies for Peace campaign are two separate projects for Sher. She said that the pennies gathered will go to the Central Asia Institute and will be put toward the building of schools, while the letters are a more personal goal that Sher feels will enrich the lives of the children.

”The children there live in extreme poverty,” she said. “Most of them will never leave the village. I was the first foreigner they had ever seen. The letters will open up a whole new world for them.”

Grant Elementary School has joined in the campaign, and third-grade teacher Carol Goodwyn is just one of the teachers involved in both Pennies for Peace and the pen-pal program.

”Very few people actually hand-write letters today,” Goodwyn said. “Many of the children are very interested in writing letters to children their age in another country. Starting friendly letter writing also fits in our core curriculum and with the California state standards for third grade.

”The children will be able to address the standards in a real-life way, outside of the school or the family,” Goodwyn added. “It will give them a whole new perspective on what a letter can do.”

As for the Pennies for Peace campaign, Goodwyn said the school is already off to a good start.

”The day after Rabia gave her presentation on Pennies for Peace,” she said, “a fourth-grade boy came into school with a bag of pennies and said, 'Where's the jar?'”

Grant Elementary School Principal Bill Cannady said he's happy to be a part of both campaigns, which, he said, follow the school's philosophy.

”It goes right along with the five core values from the Community of Caring established by Eunice Kennedy Shriver that our school practices: caring, respect, responsibility, trust and family,” he said. “It's what we have to do in this world.”

For more information about Pennies for Peace, visit the Web site at To find out how to get involved in Pennies for Peace locally, or to be a part of the pen-pal program, call Rabia Sher at 826-7123, or e-mail her at
(c) 2007 Times Standard. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Montana State University Lecture by Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson, the Bozeman man who has garnered international acclaim for his efforts to build schools in remote, mountainous regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, challenged MSU students to find their own ways to change the world.

Watch the event

Friday, September 14, 2007

PBS NOW on the News with Maria Hinojosa (09-14-07)

Interview Excerpts:

"If you look at 9/11 highjackers, certainly they were educated, some even had university degrees, but nobody really checked their mothers, who were nearly all illiterate.""The international community, the Pakistan and Afghan governments and the U.S. really failed to go to the next level and provide education to the children.""[Mullahs and Imams] are even more antagonistic towards girls going to schools because they do know if the girls have an education, they pretty much have lost their power.""If we put one percent of the money that we put in the war on terror into education, it could have a profound difference."
More details can be found at:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Three Cups of Tea is # 5 NY Times bestseller (09-13-07)

Three Cups of Tea is # 5 NY Times bestseller (nonfiction paperback) for Sunday 9/23/07
Week # 32 in a row since release and surging!
Over 500,000 copies sold now.
Thanks for your support.

Greg Mortenson

Saturday, September 1, 2007

CAI @ ISNA Convention (09-01-07)

For the first time "Central Asia Institute" had a presence at the ISNA convention, Out of a crowd of 40 thousand, over 1500 attendees stopped by the CAI booth and picked up a copy of the book. A dozen volunteers helped in distributing books and booklets and spread the good word.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Eugene Register-Guard (08-02-07)

The Eugene Register-Guard
In final sentencing, judge upholds defendant's term
By Bill Bishop
Thursday, August 2, 2007

A federal judge on Wednesday reimposed a four-year, three-month prison sentence on Jonathan Christopher Mark Paul, a longtime leader in the radical environmental movement and the last of 10 defendants indicted and sentenced in Eugene for conspiracy to commit arson to promote their views.

Paul's lawyer, Marc Blackman of Portland, disputed the sentence during a June 5 hearing, claiming the judge lacked authority or failed to follow the law to set the prison term. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken set Wednesday's hearing to settle the matter. She ultimately refuted Blackman's objections and let her sentence stand.

Additionally, Aiken ordered Paul to read the best-selling book "Three Cups of Tea," and to write a book review for her before reporting to prison on Oct. 1. The book is a true account of Greg Mortenson's effort to combat terrorism by building 55 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Aiken also read a lengthy letter she received from Paul's co-defendant Stanislas Meyerhoff, who is serving a 13-year prison term - the longest meted to any in the conspiracy. Meyerhoff has repeatedly renounced violence, cooperated with authorities and pledged to work peacefully to help others and improve society. Meyerhoff's letter recounted his work teaching Spanish and English to fellow inmates.

Paul also has publicly renounced arson as a means to end animal suffering and environmental exploitation. He refused to name others in the conspiracy when he signed a plea deal to settle his case.

In court, Aiken challenged him to "walk the walk," and prove through his actions in prison and after his release that his stated commitment to nonviolence is true. She told Paul on Wednesday that Meyerhoff's letter and Mortenson's book are meant to inspire him to find his own ways of coming back into the community.

"Sentences have to be about giving people a chance to be held accountable by society and yet come back and be productive," Aiken told him. "I read that (Meyerhoff's letter) because he is walking a path you say you'll walk. And I expect the same."

Aiken has taken time during each of the 10 sentencing hearings to offer similar guidance tailored to each of the defendants in the conspiracy. She compared Paul's inherited wealth, intelligence, education and family support with the relative poverty and social obstacles Mortenson overcame to build schools in Asia.

"You can do far better than what you did," she told Paul.

In a public statement after court, Paul, 41, urged fellow activists to reject arson as a weapon in their fight.

In earlier statements he said he rejected arson after helping burn down the Cavel West horse meat packing plant in Redmond in 1997. He became a volunteer firefighter / medical technician and went on more than 2,000 calls in Southern Oregon - once treating a man whom he knew was a bear poacher, another time rescuing a three-week-old kitten on a highway.

On Wednesday he said arson defiles the belief that all life is sacred and violates the tenet of nonviolence embraced by the environmental movement.
Copyright 2007 Eugene Register Guard. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Voice of America (07-13-07)

"Three Cups of Tea" (3CT) on "Voice of America" (VOA). Newscast aired globally today. For audio - go to link:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NY Times Bestseller for July 22, 2007 (07-11-07)

Three Cups of Tea 3CT is #4 on NY Times bestseller list (nonfiction paperback). 3CT on NY list for 23 weeks in a row! Listing in NY Times Book section for July 15 and 22.

Also #2 on Booksense for four months now, which is the compilation of independent bookstore:

Greg Mortenson

Saturday, July 7, 2007

BestLife Magazine (07-07-07)

Greg Mortenson is featured in Best Life for July 2007, to read the article click on:

Friday, July 6, 2007

Rochester MN endorses "Three Cups of Tea" (07-06-07)

Rochester MN endorses "Three Cups of Tea" for their Rochester Reads 2008:

Please vote for "Three Cups of Tea" at:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

"Three Cups of Tea" is moving up (07-04-07)

"Three Cups of Tea" is July 15 # 4 (highest yet) NY Times bestseller for week 22 in a row. Thank you everyone (especially from all the kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan)!
Greg Mortenson

Sunday, July 1, 2007

CAI at the APPNA Convention (07-01-07)

The Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) invited CAI to their annual convention in Orlando, FL to help raise awareness among the Pakistani Physician community. CAI volunteers Sadia and Tauheed Ashraf manned a booth and Greg Mortenson gave a presentation to a full house. Special thanks to Dr. Nadeem Kazi, Dr. Tariq Cheema and Dr. Saima Zafar for their help in making this event a success for CAI.

Greg Mortenson being interviewed by an international news channel
Greg Mortenson signing books

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Chicago Fundraiser (04-21-07)

Chicago fundraiser was a success, a lot of people from different walks of life supported our cause. CAI was able to raise $142k from a crowd of about 460 people. With everyone's help we can make progress and fight illiteracy. TCF (The Citizens Foundation) donated books for the next 3 years, special thanks to the president of TCF Mr. Danial Noorani. CAI and the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan truly appreciate this kind gesture.