I teach seventh and eighth graders. I asked my students what they thought the purpose of our class is . . . this is what I got:
“ We are here not only to learn about others’ stories, but also [to learn] how to write our own.”
Education is the key to empowerment – that’s why slave owners in the South forbade literacy among slaves; that’s why the Taliban forbade the educating of girls; that’s why I am a teacher of his- and her-story. Access to information coupled with expectations of success and responsibility to succeed both allow and motivate children to improve themselves and the world we live in.
Greg Mortenson understands this necessity, too, though he’s too old for my class. He is writing the stories of thousands of boys and girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan, an area of the world that we as Americans only pay irritated attention to when we pay attention at all. Better said, he is helping them to write their own stories.
His book, Three Cups of Tea, should be the next book you read. Period.
Those of us fortunate enough to have internet access, to learn our letters indoors, to be taught, and who can conceive of a world beyond our immediate dwelling because we’ve been shown that it is here have a responsibility to make those gifts a reality for each person on this earth. It is our responsibility to lift up our fellows, to insure that none of us lives in squalor, in poverty, in ignorance.
“From those to whom much has been given, much is expected.”
“Dr. Greg” is giving life to that message, is giving a foundation and walls and roofs to those words. The translation of that spirit into physical acts is usually where human beings fall short. The words are said, but the body doesn’t move to make them incarnate. Greg Mortenson is making them real.
There are many people I look to for inspiration – Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama.
I’ve just added one more, because Greg Mortenson and his mission are my cup of tea.