Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reflections: Three Cups of Tea

Adam C. Zern offers his thoughts on Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin's book Three Cups of Tea:

"I first heard about Greg Mortensen's work and subsequently book because I listened to a speech he gave at Brigham Young University.  While reading the book, I was reminded a great deal of Doctor Tom Dooley and his charitable and astonishing work he performed in Asia (some of which is recorded in his book Deliver Us From Evil and is an excellent read).  Greg Mortensen, through some rather serendipitous events, became devoted to the cause of building schools for children, especially girls, crippled in poverty in Pakistan and eventually Afghanistan.  His story is inspiring, but it was also frustrating for me to read.

It was frustrating because it seems that entire region of the world is trapped in a perpetual cycle of poverty and ignorance.  I wondered repeatedly in the book: "why can't these people, this nation, do for themselves what Greg Mortensen is attempting to do for them?  Why do they need an American savior with American dollars to provide some of the most basic attributes of a working society?"  It was difficult for me to not look for a diagnosis of the real problem, which Greg Mortensen never really gives.  Ignorance was brought up again and again by the authors as a cause for much of the problems in that region of the world, but why is ignorance so rampant?  What is holding the people and their nations back so much in that region of the world?  The authors of the book spend as much time defending the people's cultural practices as they do pointing out some of its faults.

Three Cups of Tea is a thought-provoking book, but it left me feeling just as an unsure about the success of Greg's mission as it did hopeful.  There seems to be some underlying and lingering problems in that region of the world that even the most "balanced" education will have an extremely difficult time eradicating."

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