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Bringing Hope and Peace Through Promise of Education
Three Cups of Tea Co-author Greg Mortenson Recounts his Life’s Work During Lecture at Trinity University

By Russell Guerrero ’83

Greg Mortenson

The best way to overcome terrorism is by building hope.  And the best way to build hope is by offering an education to the millions of children around the world who are deprived of the opportunity to go to school. Greg Mortenson, executive director of the Central Asia Institute, shared this message with about 2,000 people at Laurie Auditorium on Thursday, Aug. 28, at the first Reading TUgether Keynote lecture.

Mr.  Mortenson has spent much of his adult life in one of the most remote regions in the world.  He has gone from village to village high in the mountain ranges that spread across Pakistan and Afghanistan building schools.  His story is the basis for the best selling book Three Cups of Tea.

Mr. Mortenson, a soft spoken, big bear of a man, was greeted with a standing ovation. He also received loud applause for a PowerPoint slide saying “Thanks Trinity University, making miracles happen on the football field and all over the world.”

He spoke passionately about the need to provide an education to children.  “The real enemy is ignorance.  It’s ignorance that breeds hatred,” said Mr. Mortenson.

Providing an education for girls is especially important.  Mr. Mortenson said that providing at least a 5th grade level of education to girls would help to reduce infant mortality, reduce the population explosion, and improve the basic qualities of health and life itself.

Greg Mortenson (left), co-author of Three Cups of Tea, meets with Trinity students at a reception in his honor.

Mr. Mortenson’s visit was the climax to Trinity’s Reading TUgether program.  Earlier this year, Felicia Lee, vice president of student affairs, and Michael Fischer, vice president of academic affairs suggested Three Cups of Tea  to the First-Year Seminar Steering Committee, which selects a book for incoming first-year students to read over the summer.

According to Professor Lee, the book was recommended because its theme is strongly aligned with the mission of Trinity University. 

Professor Lee pointed to the purpose of the Common Curriculum, which provides skills that are “necessary for the personal, lifelong, quest for understanding of oneself and one’s place in the world, and the serious commitment to respond to the opportunities and needs of society…”

“His life’s work is about that,” said Professor Lee of Mr. Mortenson. “It is about trying to make positive change in our world.”

It was also decided that the entire Trinity community would be invited to read Three Cups of Tea along with first-year students. The Reading TUgether program was created to make the book a collective University experience.  When he heard about the program, Mr. Mortenson donated forty copies of his book to the Coates Library.

The day after speaking at Laurie Auditorium, Mr. Mortenson visited the International School of the Americas (ISA), a magnet high school for students interested in global issues founded with help from Trinity education professors.

He was invited to share his insights by an ISA student group known as PeaceJam, according to Angela Breidenstein, associate professor of education and an ISA mentor.   

Members of the Trinity community also raised money to benefit the Central Asia Institute. Throughout New Student Orientation and concluding with Mr. Mortenson’s lecture, the New Student Orientation Team coordinated a “Pennies for Peace” fundraiser. 

With a combination of cash donations and personal checks, a grand total of $2,653.41 was raised –  enough to pay the annual salary for four teachers in Afghanistan or Pakistan. 


© 2008 Trinity University

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