Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, spoke Saturday afternoon. Someone had had the foresight to move his presentation to a larger room, but even still, it was packed full.
Mortenson took a lot of time at the start to greet people and to pose for pictures. He continued to smile graciously for an unending line of cameras and cell phones, even after his handler twice tried to cut the line off. He seemed very much like the person who is presented in the book.
His presentation opened with a video narrated by his daughter. He retold the story most of us had already read in Three Cups of Tea, but he added more back story details. One of my favorite anecdotes involved Tom Brokaw. In the book Mortenson mentions that Brokaw was the only one who responded at all to his initial fundraising effort. When the men actually met later, Brokaw seemed a little embarrassed that he had donated so little. Mortenson paused and said, “I wanted to tell him, ‘It’s not too late …’” The audience laughed appreciatively.
Fundraising was not his overt purpose here. With beautiful slides and multicultural proverbs (”If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a girl, you educate a community”) Mortenson talked about how the project had grown since he wrote the book.
He mentioned earning the support of Pakistani religious leaders AND the American military (no small feat, that!). He also talked about two newer books, one revised for young adult readers, and one for children called Listen to the Wind. The YA version of the book includes some teaching support materials.
The only disappointing aspect came later: Mortenson was signing books, and I wanted one; but the line was too long. Everyone else wanted one, too. As I walked out, I wondered if it might be possible to launch a “Pennies for Peace” project at my school
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