Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Evening with Greg Mortenson

The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family -- Balti Proverb
This past weekend I attended the San Francisco Gala event of DIL – Developments in Literacy. DIL is dedicated to providing quality education to disadvantaged children, especially girls, by establishing and operating schools in the underdeveloped regions of Pakistan. It has a strong focus on gender equality and community participation. Since its inception in 1997, the organization now operates and manages 150 schools, with an enrollment of nearly 15,000 students.
The key note speaker was Dr. Adil Najam, a professor at Boston University and a senior fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Dr. Najam served as a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), work for which the IPCC was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore. His talk focused on the urgency to uplift the millions of poor in Pakistan by allowing them a chance to improve their lives through education. As I’ve mentioned before, he stressed the critical importance of educating girls, for when you educate a girl you improve not only her life, but that of her children and the community.
The special guest of honor at the event was Greg Mortenson, whose NYT bestselling book, THREE CUPS OF TEA, illuminates the importance of overcoming cultural divides and stresses that education is the solution to poverty. Greg's book has had a tremendous impact on me and my husband, who uses Greg's example in his class. We were looking forward to hearing him speak, but unfortunately, Greg was out sick. In his place stepped in Professor Abdul Jabbar, Board Chairman of Greg’s organization, the Central Asia Institute.
Professor Jabbar spoke candidly about Greg’s amazing work in building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also shared a poem with us – a poem that was sent to Greg by an American soldier stationed in Afghanistan. In it, the solider, who’d just read THREE CUPS OF TEA, explains how he sits for hours behind a wall, listening to kids playing on the other side. As he marvels at their innocence, he ponders whether his gun is the answer to why he is there. He believes the only way to overcome ignorance is education. This soldier helped organize a fundraiser in Alabama to raise money for schools in Afghanistan.
It’s amazing how a book can spark so much change, little and large

No comments:

Post a Comment