I have to admit that creating education opportunities in other countries has been one of my favorite things to read about since I read Half the Sky over two years ago. It’s one of those things that serve both my feminist ideals since these school almost always help girls get an education as well and my Christian ideals because these schools have proven time and again to be the root of helping people improve their lives. Even here in the US, there are programs designed to help students with barriers to education, like GEMS. Three Cups of Tea is another book talking about building schools and improving lives of kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.
The book is about the journey Greg Mortenson takes in creating the Central Asia Institute and some of the work he’d done in growing it. Despite that he’s listed as an author, the book is not a memoir. Its not even written in the first person. His story is remarkable and humbling. Here is a man who had no idea where to get started or how he was going to do it, but made a promise to build a school in the middle of nowhere in Pakistan and then really made it happen. The story of this first school and how he came to grew the institute is remarkable. The writing is entertaining. I had borrowed the audiobook from the library and have to admit that I was not a fan of the narration, though. It’s not that the narrator did anything specifically wrong, his voice and tone just grated on me for some unknown reason.
As you might notice when looking over the Goodreads page linked above, there is some dispute as to the accuracy of the book and the way in which Mortenson ran the Central Asia Institute. It has since been reestablished, checked out, and ranked well by Charity Navigator and GuideStar. That said, I still enjoyed the book and the idea of the Greg Mortenson it brings with it. With opposing allegations about his management of CAI and his own admission of short-comings throughout the book, though, I have a hard time demonizing him.
Despite whatever issues may have surrounded it, I appreciate that the institute is still around and expanding the work mentioned in the book and I appreciate that its publication brought us one more book bringing to light what a difference education makes in the more remote parts of the world for even the most impoverished children. There is another book by Mortenson, Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which I plan to read as well. Eventually. It’s gonna be a busy year.
As mentioned above, I borrowed the audiobook from the library but it’s also available for purchase in plenty of places. Click on the cover image to be redirected BookLikes to see their options or here for options on Goodreads.