His experiences over the past 15 years make for a captivating read. One of the appeals is that Mortenson is an unlikely hero - a climber with a fairly itinerant lifestyle to start. The story commences with his failed attempt to summit K2. On his descent, he gets lost and wanders into the Pakistani village of Korphe. The villagers take care of him and nurse him back to health, and he foolishly promises to repay them by building a school for the children. Thus begins his quest to make a difference in the lives of the children, the villages and the world.
Moretnson's experiences are a true testament to how one person can change the world. He is one person. It's clear that he is a pretty special person; most importantly he is culturally sensitive, which extremely important to his mission. But still, he is one guy. And furthermore, when he starts, he has NO IDEA what he is doing. This is what I found most inspiring... he stumbles into this project, he makes a commitment, but he is absolutely clueless about how to carry it out. It was just a whim.
It is only through his persistence - okay, stubborness -, his hand-on approach to action and his absolute trust in his relationships that he gets things done. And what he does is amazing. Mortenson now works under the auspices of the Central Asia Institute. Since its founding in 1996, the Central Asia Institute has opened 78 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing education for thousands of children.
For me, it was a perfect time to read this book and to start to think about the ways that I can "change the world". With the Tour d'Afrique, I have been presented with an amazing opportunity - to fulfill a lifelong dream to go to Africa and go on safari; as well as to fulfill a more recent goal of doing a long-distance biking expedition. (For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, click here to get the update.) But I realized that this is also an opportunity to something really productive, not just for myself but for my world. It is a perfect chance to raise money for a good cause and give it back to the communities I will be biking through.
I am really excited and energized by the idea of combining so many of the things that I am passionate about: travel, physical fitness and social justice. And Three Cups of Tea has challenged me to really think creatively about how I can use this unique opportunity to really accomplish something positive. Stay tuned!