School Builder for the Poor in Afghanistan, Pakistan to Speak Aug. 27 at Michigan Tech

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

Bestselling author Greg Mortenson will address Michigan Technological University's first-year students at a lecture set for 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the Rozsa Center. His talk is free and open to the public.

Mortenson's book, "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time," topped the New York Times best seller list for many months and is the University's 2008 Summer Reading selection. Michigan Tech's 1,400 entering students were asked to read the book over the summer and are discussing it in small groups during orientation.

If the event of an overflow crowd, Mortenson's talk will be broadcast on TV monitors in the Horner Lobby of the Rozsa Center, standing room only.

The book begins with Mortenson's attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain. Weakened by the effort, he was sheltered for weeks by the people of the impoverished Pakistani village of Korphe. To show his gratitude, he promised to build the town's first school, the first project of what would be his Central Asia Institute.

The institute has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan, with emphasis on educating girls. Mortenson and coauthor David Relin assert that collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls, are the only viable tools in the fight against Islamic extremism in the region.

Time Magazine named "Three Cups of Tea" its 2006 Asia Book of the Year and called it "an astonishing tale of compassion—and of promise kept."

A Christian Science Monitor reviewer wrote, "Laced with drama, danger, romance and good deeds, Mortenson's story serves as a reminder of the power of a good idea and the strength inherent in one person's passionate determination to persevere against enormous obstacles."

"Three Cups of Tea" was also the summer reading for Finlandia University and Conserve School, in Land o' Lakes, Wis., and Mortenson will be addressing students from those schools at 11 a.m. today in Room 641 in the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building. At 1:30 p.m., he will host a question-and-answer session for Michigan Tech faculty and other area educators, also in Dow 641.

The public is welcome at all three of Mortenson's talks.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.