Saturday, November 28, 2009

Indiana Jones and the Taliban

The publishers of Three Cups of Tea describe the book as "The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his remarkable humanitarian campaign in the Taliban's backyard" (back cover).

What Indiana Jones-like qualities and skills enable Greg Mortenson to carry out his promise to build schools in Pakistan? What specific events or scenes in the book highlight some of these traits?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spreading Literacy

Greg Mortenson ends Three Cups of Tea with a "vision that we all will dedicate the next decade to achieve universal literacy and education for all children, especially for girls. More than 145 million of the world's children are deprived of education due to poverty, exploitation, slavery, gender discrimination, religious extremism, and corrupt governments" (Mortenson and Relin 333).

What is your vision to achieve the goal of universal literacy?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Educating Afghanistan's Girls

Mortenson encounters Zahir Shah (Afghanistan's former king) and tells the Shah about his hope to open girls' schools in Afghanistan. The Shah, in turn, refers Mortenson to Sadhar Khan. Mortenson hires a jeep, and after escaping a mine field and a shoot out between opium smugglers, finally finds Sadhar Khan. The "mujahadeen shouted with joy and wrapped the startled American in an embrace.

"Yes! Yes! You're Dr. Greg! My comandhan Abdul Rashid has told me about you. This is incredible . . . The Khan catalogued a sea of schoolless girls, far more vast than anything Morteson had imagined" (Mortenson and Relin 329-330).

From what you've read in Three Cups of Tea do you think Mortenson will be as successful in Afghanistan as he was in Pakistan? Why or Why not?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Empowering Women in Central Asia

Greg Mortenson's focus for the CAI is empowering girls through education. On a trip to Korphe, the reporter who accompanies Mortenson is amazed by the pluck of Jahan, a young woman educated in Korphe's school. "Here comes this teenage girl, in the center of a conservative Islamic village, waltzing into a circle of men, breaking through about sixteen layers of traditions at once: She had graduated from school and was the first educated woman in a valley of three thousand people. She didn't defer to anyone, sat down right in front of Greg [Mortenson], and handed him the product of the revolutionary skills she'd acquired--a proposal, in English, to better herself, and improve the life of her village" (Mortenson and Relin 300).

One of the themes of Three Cups of Tea is that education can solve the problem of terrorism. "[T]error doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death" (Mortenson and Relin 292).

Do you, like Mortenson, believe the key to stopping terrorism lies in the revolutionary idea of educating Islamic women? Why or why not.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Terrorists in the News

After 9/11 Greg Mortenson received a message from the American embassy ordering U.S. "civilians to immediately evacuate the country the embassy called ' the most dangerous place for American nationals on Earth'" (Mortenson and Relin 273).

As Greg Mortenson noted earlier, the media circus descended on Pakistan, "a solid mass of caffeine and deadline-fueled humanity" (262) where "green reporters who know nothing about the region stand up on the roof in flak jackets and act like their backdrop of the Margala Hills is some kind of war zone instead of a place to take kids on the weekends" (264). When Mortenson met with reporters he "tried to talk about the root causes of the conflict--the lack of education in Pakistan, and the rise of the Wahhabi madrassas, and how that led to problems like terrorism" (266).

Do you think the media helped draw attention to the root cause of terrorism, or the lack of education, as Mortenson describes it, or do you think the media had another agenda? Why?