Making a difference by promoting peace

Kinsey Gustafson

Kinsey GustafsonReporter

Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, is on a mission to promote peace. In his book he writes, “Ultimately the War on Terror will be won by books, not bombs.”

Three Cups of Tea was chosen as SDSU’s 2010 Common Read because of Mortenson’s message to people of all ages: that one person really can make a difference.

Mortenson’s journey through rural parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan are recounted in his book. He also writes about his failed climb up the mountain K2 and how he decided to build schools in Central Asia to help those children to be educated.

The Common Read is encouraging students to learn from this book and to realize they too can make a difference.

The Common Read was established in the fall of 2009. Surveys conducted at SDSU show that (common reading) students increased their knowledge of global health issues and they were more likely to consider how they might use their talents to serve others.

“The common read is designed to raise the level of academic challenge at SDSU, enhance our awareness of diverse perspectives, increase faculty and student interaction, encourage service and promote enriching, engaging educational experiences both in and outside class,” according to the SDSU Common Read website.

“I think that Three Cups of Tea was a good choice for the Common Read because it shows how hardworking and dedicated you have to be to achieve something,” freshman Beth DeJong said.

SDSU has had numerous activities around campus, such as a Diversi-Tea, where students sat down with others at a tea and hunger banquet. The banquet was an effort to get students involved in the common read and the final event is Greg Mortenson speaking on campus.

He will speak to students and teachers about his experiences in other countries, the schools he helped to build and why he felt Three Cups of Tea was a book necessary to write.

Three Cups of Tea may seem like an unusual title since the book is an account of his failed climb up K2 and then his success at bringing education to rural places in Central Asia.

“Although symbolic, to do business in Pakistan or Afghanistan, it takes three cups of tea first,” Mortenson said, in explaining his choice for the title. “In their culture, the first cup you are a stranger, and by the second tea gathering you become a friend, and with the third cup you become family, and they will protect you with their life and are ready to do business, but the process takes several years.”

In addition to the many different activities at SDSU centered around the common read book Three Cups of Tea, Pennies for Peace is also being held at SDSU. Pennies for Peace was started in 1994 to raise money for Mortenson to build his first school in Pakistan.

At the front desks of residence halls are buckets for pennies to be dropped in to help support the cause.

“Not only does donating pennies to a great cause help you feel good, but reading a book that really gives you insight to an important issue helps you understand how far one person can go to help many,” said freshman Katie Hoff.

Mortenson will speak on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are free to SDSU students with their ID and are available through Information Exchange in The Union.

#1.1730987:4255045907.png:Greg-Mortenson-2-Laura-Cox.png:Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, will be speak at SDSU about the importance of education in developing countries.:Collegian Photo by Laura Cox