The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Three Cups of Tea author drives to make a difference

“Three Cups of Tea,” co-authored by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, chronicles Mortenson’s journeys throughout Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan on his quest to build schools and bring hope to the children of these war-torn areas.

Originally a mountaineer, Mortenson’s failed 1993 attempt to climb K2, the world’s second highest mountain, lands him in Korphe, an impoverished village in the Karakoram Mountains, where he becomes incredibly touched by the people’s kindness and hospitality. When Mortenson discovers the children of Korphe without a teacher and scratches previous lessons in the dirt with sharpened sticks, he vows to build them a school and raise the money to hire a full-time teacher, about $1 a day.

After realizing the difficulties of fundraising, Mortenson sells all of his belongings, including the car he lived in, for a meager $2,400 in an effort to fulfill his promise to the people of Korphe. Eventually, after all his efforts, Mortenson finds the support he needs to accomplish his goal, and by 1996 the village has a new bridge and school. 

After three years working in the area, Mortenson, a full-time humanitarian, co-founded the Central Asia Institute, whose main goal is to make education possible for children, especially girls, in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In providing this service, the CAI works to promote peace by bringing communities together to better their young. Children who receive an education are armed with a key to a better future, and are provided an alternative to joining the Taliban or other extremist groups, who may offer them money. 

Relentless in his effort to help the children of Pakistan, Mortenson spends most of his time, since 1993, in the region. Fluent in the country’s language and customs, “Dr. Greg,” as he is known, becomes extremely well-known and respected to the locals and acquires many devoted followers. From working along Pakistan’s border, 9/11 leads Mortenson to realize the need in Afghanistan as well. Despite painful separation from his family, death threats, an armed kidnapping and multiple fatwas, pronouncements of Islamic law declared by local leaders, nothing keeps Mortenson away from his mission.

His motivating story, “Three Cups of Tea,” is a moving testament of “one man’s mission to promote peace … one school at a time.”

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