Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Speaks at Mount Ellis Academy
During the month of April, Greg Mortenson, best-selling author of Three Cups of Tea, spoke to the students and church community of Mount Ellis Academy and Elementary Schools. Mortenson has dedicated the last 16 years of his life to building schools and improving living conditions for impoverished villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His book tells of how one impulsive promise to build a school for a small village in Pakistan grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has 78 schools throughout remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, educating more than 28,000 students including 14,000 girls.
Before he came, Mortenson gave the school a great gift: a copy of Three Cups of Tea for every student. The book’s title reflects what he has learned working to build schools: Taking time to build relationships with the people. When people drink tea together in that part of the world, they drink the first cup as strangers, the second cup as friends and the third cup as family.
Mortenson's mission has encouraged Pakistan’s government to build more schools. From 2000 to 2008, the number of children in schools rocketed from 800,000 to 7.2 million, over 2 million of which are girls. Educated men and women are becoming teachers, and women return to their villages with basic medical training to drastically reduce the infant and maternal mortality rate.
Mortenson’s story inspired MEA students. Kayla Grussling, sophomore, says, "When Greg Mortenson made a promise to build that first school, he couldn't foresee it would lead him to his life's work. It's like that in our lives. We don't know what impact our choices, promises or decisions will have on someone else or even on ourselves for the rest of our lives."
Joellyn Sheehy, MEA senior adds, “Mr. Mortenson didn’t start out with an agenda to achieve peace and end war by helping the countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He met real people and helped them simply because he cared about them. His story inspires me to think about how much God can accomplish through one regular person when they love Him and are willing to serve Him by loving other people."