Friday, January 30, 2009

At Mills Lawn School, a penny saved is a penny learned (01/29/09)

Yellow Springs News (OH)
January 29, 2009
At Mills Lawn School, a penny saved is a penny learned
By Susan Gartner

The ad hoc public relations team hurried down the hall, snaking their way past the lobby where colorful flags from 20 different countries hung from the ceiling. The group quickly grew in number as they stopped to collect more members en route to the 10:45 a.m. press conference. Sometimes a quick hug with a new arrival would take place before continuing on. The group, representing varying levels of fundraising experience, squeezed around a small, round conference table to discuss the project, how it got started, and what they had learned so far.
McKenna Banaszak-Moore began the meeting by stating that the money being raised will be used to assist people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, “to help build schools and let girls have an education.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Three Cups of Tea for children (01/27/09)

Tampa Examiner
January 27, 2009
by Karen Deerwester,

Three Cups of Tea for children: Greg Mortenson writes new books for kids by Karen Deerwester
Greg Mortenson's new books for young readers debuted last week. Listen to the Wind is written for the 5 to 8 year olds and Three Cups of Tea, the Young Reader's Edition is for 8 years and up. When I recommended these last week, one reader asked for more information on the books and their amazing author, Greg Mortenson. The original Three Cups of Tea has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 102 weeks and counting. These new books for children are sure to follow. Both books introduce children to a larger world - to other cultures, to compassion and appreciation of other people, and to the dynamic power of education and peace. Mortenson's first book told us of his journey that begun as a young mountain climber and ended as a humanitarian building schools in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greg Mortenson tells a hero's story - one of truth and honor. He taught me that "peace education" is the daily practice of seeing other people's points of view, respecting differences, generously extending the benefit of the doubt to sometimes hurtful situations, and searching for peaceful solutions instead of impulsive defensiveness. Mortenson teaches all of us how to effect positive change through relationship-building - taking the time to share "three cups of tea". Young children will enjoy hearing the story of Listen to the Wind, as told by the children of Korphe. They will recognize the lives they share and imagine living with yaks and goats. American children will be intrigued when they read:
With our small fingers we wedged tiny slivers of stones into the cement to make our walls stronger. Our school grew each day, up from the high, flat ground where we used to write with our sticks. Mortenson's books give parents and teachers a wealth of ideas and activities to construct lifelong meaning from the words and images on these pages: children can reenact the building process from carrying supplies across treacherous landscape to erecting walls; they can compare how people in far away places dress, what they eat or recreate the style of home; children can take up the cause of helping Dr. Greg by getting involved with
Pennies for Peace. The Young Reader's Edition retells Dr. Greg's original story with breathtaking clarity for his new audience. The foreward by Jane Goodall connects Dr. Greg's work to another extraordinary role model for young children. The lessons of this book are personal and inspiring. Children, like Dr. Greg's many adult readers, will be forever changed by meeting a real-life, get-dirty, break-few-rules adventurer like Dr. Greg. And meeting the children whose lives he touches. These are must-have books for your at-home or school library.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reaching young minds (01/21/09)

Reaching young minds
Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Greg Mortenson has spoken to thousands of U.S. university and high school students about his bestselling “Three Cups of Tea,” the inspirational story of his work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan to “promote peace, one school at a time.”


Greg Mortenson, with his son Khyber and daughter Amira, visit with students at the Gultari war refugee girls school built in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan in 2007. But when Mortenson visited a fourth-grade class in Houston, he realized the kids were struggling with the adult-level book. That prompted his wife, Tara Bishop, to suggest once again that he write a version for children.“Kids are so excited,” Bishop said, especially about Mortenson’s Pennies for Peace program, which allows children here to raise pennies that will buy pencils and school supplies for students in Pakistan. “It would feel empowering if kids could read it themselves.”Two years later, her idea is being realized.Two children’s books based on Mortenson’s story are being released today. One is a half-length version for young readers, entitled “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World One Child at a Time.” It has a forward by famed primatologist Jane Goodall, plus photos, maps, a timeline, glossary and list of who’s who, as well as information about how kids can get involved and help Pennies for Peace.
The second is a picture book illustrated by artist Susan Roth called “Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea.”Mortenson and his 12-year-old daughter, Amira, are set to appear this morning on NBC’s “Today” show to talk about the books. It’s the first stop in a national tour that will include the United Nations Children’s Forum and a book expo in Los Angeles.Amira, who has traveled to Pakistan with her family three times, discusses what life is like for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan from a kid’s point of view in a 30-page question-and-answer interview in the young-readers book.“I think it’s important for kids to know, no matter how small you are, you can make a difference in the world,” Amira said.Chatting with the seventh-grader Tuesday, as she sat next to her dad in the family’s Bozeman home, it quickly became clear that she has a confidence and self-possession far beyond her years. When they speak to groups, it’s her dad who is more introverted and Amira - a taekwando champ and Equinox Theatre alum - who is naturally outgoing.Still, she admitted the “Today” show, though “a huge adrenalin rush,” was making her nervous.Mortenson’s mission began in 1993, when he was saved by Pakistani villagers after his failed attempt to climb K-2. Seeing village kids learning by sitting on the ground and scratching in the dirt with sticks, he made a rash promise to build a school.Back home, he struggled to raise a few thousand dollars to keep his promise. One big break came when children in his mother’s Wisconsin school raised $623 in pennies. Mortenson built the first school, and that snowballed into working with other villages to build more schools, aimed especially at educating girls, in remote areas where the Taliban has attacked hundreds of government schools.“I think their greatest fear is not the bullet but the pen,” Mortenson said. “The real enemy is ignorance n ignorance that causes hatred. To overcome it we need compassion and education.”So far, he said, his nonprofit Central Asia Institute has built 78 schools, and runs another four dozen, educating 28,000 children.Thanks largely to word of mouth and book groups, his book, co-authored with David Relin, has sold more than 2 million copies in paperback and been on the New York Times bestseller list 102 weeks. It has become required reading from Montana universities to the high school population of New Hampshire. He has gotten e-mail from such notable readers as Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.Pennies for Peace, meanwhile, has mushroomed among students, growing from 270 schools last year to 3,200 today.One stop on the Mortensons’ tour will be the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., which President Obama’s daughters now attend. Mortenson said his mother-in-law, Lila Bishop, taught there for 20 years. He and Amira have a chance to share their story with Sidwell students, and possibly First Lady Michelle Obama, he said.Mortenson said he is “very excited” about the new president, but concerned about Obama’s “brazen statements” about hunting down Osama bin Laden and plans to beef up the U.S. military in Afghanistan. He’d rather see something like the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.“They’re all thinking firepower, and what we really need is brain power,” he said. “It’s education that will determine if the next generation (in Pakistan and Afghanistan) is educated, or illiterate fighters. The stakes could not be higher.”

Gail Schontzler is at

Friday, January 2, 2009

'Three Cups of Tea' author finds new mountains to climb (01/02/09)


WASHINGTON — Globe-trotting humanitarian Greg Mortenson, co-author of the best-selling memoir Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time, keeps a reminder pasted to his bathroom mirror back home in Bozeman, Mont.: "When your heart speaks, take good notes."

Mortenson's own heart started hollering 15 years ago, when the exhausted mountaineer lost his way in northeastern Pakistan's untrammeled Karakoram Range. After stumbling nearly 60 miles down a glacier to the Muslim hamlet of Korphe — where he was welcomed as the first foreigner the 400 villagers had encountered — he watched local children substitute mud-coated sticks for pencils in an apricot orchard that served as their only classroom.

Inspired by his parents' work to start a hospital and school on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, and by fellow climber Edmund Hillary's charitable work in the Nepalese Himalayas, Mortenson promised he would return to Korphe to build a school.

But unlike most well-meaning tourists touched by encounters with Third World poverty, Mortenson delivered on his pledge.

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