Three Cups of Tea

The best way to get through a long road trip is with a good audiobook. On my last road trip home, I listened to Greg Mortenson’s book, Three Cups of Tea.

Mortenson is a fellow Minnesotan who traveled to the Himalayas to climb K2. After a failed summit attempt and a physically exhausting journey, he lost his way and it was taken in by the residents of Korphe. He watched the students diligently studying outside, practicing multiplication tables in the sand and dirt in the harsh Himalayan environment and pledged to bring them a school.

You must read this book.

It reminded me of a forum I attended last fall at the Hinckley Institute of Politics with Hussain Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States. Instead of treating the symptoms of terrorism, we need to start treating the root causes. In Pakistan, less than 50% of school age children go to school. One third of the population lives below the poverty line. Many people just there do not have any opportunities or choices in life like we have here in the United States. Without hopes and dreams, it becomes easier to recruit these young people into terrorist organizations.

Haqqani said, “The US now has an opportunity to reach out to the world and say, ‘we may be the largest power in the world, but we also have the ability to listen to others and work with them. There is no military solution. Some people you need to fight…but at the same time, there are people you need to win over.”

Mortenson has been carrying out this work singlehandedly. He has built or supported 131 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where boys and girls can learn to read, write and do multiplication and division. He just published another book, Stones to Schools that I still need to read. Please check out and support Greg Mortenson at and consider donating to his Central Asia Institute at